As small business owners, we often hear about the importance of maintaining a presence in social media. There is no question that virtual networking enhances the visibility of a business, but staying active in the ever-growing number of social media platforms consumes valuable time. What to do? Participate on the few occasions when we come up for air? Post madly in irregular intervals to put out bursts of information, only to disappear again for the next two weeks? Neither approach works particularly well. Here are some thoughts about efficient and consistent ways to keep your social media accounts updated:
Eliminate sources of distraction
The enormous volume of content presented by interactive online platforms is a big time risk. We have all been there–you open a site to add a business-related update to your feed, but once you start scanning the entries of acquaintances and colleagues, you're suddenly reading completely unrelated posts or adding comments to stories that are not particularly relevant to your work. When you realize how much time has gone by, you may even leave the site without posting anything. If the distraction of other content consumes too much time, it may be helpful to use a social media management tool such as Hootsuite to post your business updates remotely. Another approach can be to write your posts–including all hyperlinks and images–offline first. Then, deliberately choose a busy time and simply copy and paste your prepared text into the site, post it, and close.
Plan your online content
Since sharing regular information about your field and industry is an effective way to gain online recognition, content planning can start with making a small collection of reliable sources of such information. Having a go-to collection of interesting links for possible sharing saves valuable time. You can collect items as hyperlinks in a Word file or in a content collector such as Pocket. If you are pressed for time, any list format that helps avoid distraction is helpful. Adding categories to your collection list from the start and deleting entries you have already shared are further effective steps.
Occasional bursts of activity, followed by weeks of silence, are not the most effective way to interact online, nor are they likely to create new business opportunities. Planning the content you want to post is a more consistent approach for claiming a business niche in social media. That involves picking an area of expertise you want to promote along with a list of keywords you want to be associated with. Your online plan should not only specify the content of your posts, but also their frequency. A simple record of your business postings in an Excel file may be a helpful overview tool.
Set times of the day for interaction
Don't give in to the temptation to open a social media platform because you are procrastinating on another task. Always keep the tabs closed and switch off all e-mail notifications. For your daily planning, include social media interaction in your daily to-do list, but give the agenda items a purposeful name, such as "Online marketing" to avoid engaging with personal postings instead of business content. Before you open the platforms, define a brief intention: "I am opening Twitter to read my feed for 5 minutes and to interact with interesting posts in my area of expertise."
Stand out by making sense
As I wrote recently in another post, the absence or silence of your business in online conversations means that your competitors' voices ring louder. However, don't fall into the trap of thinking you have to post "something" just to stay in the conversation. If you are going to spend precious time online, it is better to be known as a professional who makes solid contributions than as someone who will fill feeds with trivial content of little interest. Always make sure your posts provide information, food for thought, useful updates and added value to make the best use of your time. Here's to you!
What are your best tips for handling social media without wasting time?
I look forward to hear from you!