Launching your company’s social media presence is a big step – both in terms of shifting to a more engaging and customer-centric marketing approach, and because of the resources you’ll need to dedicate to make it succeed.
As a strategist at MediaSauce, I’m often charged with helping clients launch their social media initiatives. I’ve found that the most challenging thing for most marketers isn’t learning how to use new tools. It’s knowing how to get digitally organized.
Time management, baby.
Now, I should clarify. These tips are for businesses. If you want to spend 5 hours checking out your old high school friends’ family photos, by all means, feel free. Your time, your dime!
For marketers performing social media for business, getting digitally organized includes:
- Figuring out how to manage time and organize information (and there’s a lot of information out there).
- Discovering ways to stay away from that oh-so-entertaining – and unrelated – Twitter discussion about Tiger Woods.
- Trying to focus on what’s relevant for your business – and what will have the most impact in the least amount of time.
If you only have a few minutes a day to dedicate to social media, what’s most important?
Even with the most solid, bullet-proof social media strategy, a lack of organization will completely derail your hard work. Social media ADD is a real affliction, folks. Let’s talk about ways to get some digital Ritalin (without the side effects).
If you only have 15 minutes a day to dedicate to social media, what should you do?
Respond to EVERYONE. Before we dive into any of the tactics listed below, I want to hammer this point home. If you commit to participating in social media communication, you’ve committed to responding to everyone that connects with your business through social media…no matter how little time you have. The whole point of social media is connecting and engaging on a one-to-one basis. If you can’t commit to responding to everyone and anyone, you may want pause and consider whether social media is the right step for you right now.
Google Alerts. These babies can pack a serious punch…if you set ‘em up properly. If you’re tracking more than one word (a phrase), don’t forget quotation marks. If you do, you’ll suffer the consequences by receiving everything under the sun about anything having to do with any of the words – not phrases – you entered. For example, instead of seeing articles related to “ugly holiday sweaters,” you’re going to see every article with the word “ugly,” the word “holiday,” and the word “sweaters.” Think about that.
Hot Tip: Send your Google alerts to a feed reader. Trust me, you will thank me when your inbox is clean and you can organize your alerts in folders by category. Which Reader should you use? Personally, my favorite reader is Google Reader, just because it’s easy. And if you already have your alerts going to your email, you can switch them to a feed reader.
Twitter Search. Even if you’re rolling your eyes at its goofy name, Twitter affects your business. Why? Because the things people say on Twitter are indexed by search engines. And search engines are kind of a big deal. So hop on Twitter search to see if the search terms for which you’ve already set up Google Alerts are being discussed right now online.
If you only have 30 minutes a day to dedicate to social media, what should you do?
Continue doing everything listed above. Just add:
RSS Feeds. These are feeds from your favorite blog and news websites. Just like the Google Alerts, set these up in a reader, like Google Reader or FeedDemon to save yourself time. Instead of going to 15 different websites, you’ll go to one inbox, where you can organize your feeds by category and scan posts quickly to see whether they’re worth reading, sharing and commenting.
Hootsuite. The biggest benefit to Hootsuite: you can pre-schedule your tweets. It’s what keeps me coming back, even though TweetDeck is my fav. For those of you who just don’t have time (yet) to do much more than use Twitter as a news release/blog promotion tool, this is a great service. If you know that new blog post won’t launch until tomorrow morning, and you have a meeting from 8 a.m. to noon, you can just pre-schedule your tweet and rest easy knowing it’ll go out on time.
Hot Tip: Don’t forget that you still need to monitor your Twitter accounts for responses.
If you have 1 hour a day to dedicate to social media, what should you do?
Just because you have more time doesn’t mean you can ignore the tools we just discussed. Keep at ‘em! Now start adding:
TweetDeck. Some people prefer Seesmic, I play favorites…and TweetDeck wins. TweetDeck is a desktop application that you can easily download and customize until it becomes your own personal crack. Oh wait, did I say crack? I meant personal Twitter organization tool.
In TweetDeck, columns are your friend. Groups are your BFF. Search columns are your BFF-forever-and-ever-cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die. You can set up columns and groups to organize your Twitter streams, so that you can always see what people are saying about “Ugly Sweaters.” You can monitor a single Twitterer’s account. You can create groups of similar people, like trade publications, in a column. You can also set up search columns – just like Google Alerts – where you can constantly monitor what people are saying about any given topic. Personally, my TweetDeck is so heavily categorized that you can scroll through my columns for an absurdly long time.
Manage Your Facebook Presence. If you have an hour a day to spend in social media, you should absolutely have a Facebook page for your business. Once you’ve set up your page, what should you do? First and foremost: respond to everyone. If you’ve got that covered, start sharing. Links (of your own stuff and others’ content that you recommend), photos and videos are some of the most popular – and effective – things to share. Got news? Share it with a status update. Just keep your Facebook presence up-to-date.
Manage Your LinkedIn Presence. Your business should have a company profile on LinkedIn. Do you? If not, create one. If you do, be sure it’s accurate. Ask your employees to join LinkedIn. Create groups for your business or affiliations. And again: whenever someone connects with you via LinkedIn about your biz, respond!
If you have 2 hours a day to dedicate to social media, what should you do?
Blog. If you have two hours, you can maintain a blog. Yup. Even you, ye of little faith in your writing abilities. Think like Water Boy…you can DO it! If you have a hard time finding things to write about, start with a plan. Hook up with a coworker or friend and brainstorm all the things you could ever possibly write about on your blog. Write the ideas down. Prioritize them. Scrap the ones that don’t make sense. Start writing the ones that excite you most.
Comment on Other Peoples’ Blogs. Remember those feeds you set up for blogs and news sites that contain relevant content? Oh yeah, those. Well, instead of just reading the posts, start commenting on them when appropriate. Social media is a good will, you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours kind of community. The more you connect with – and respond to – other bloggers and social media folks, the better your chances are of seeing success with your own social media efforts.
If you have more than 3 hours a day to dedicate to social media, what should you do?
First, thank your boss, because (s)he’s totally with it. If you have a solid 3 hours or more every day to dedicate to social media, you’ve most likely graduated from playing in the Social Media Pop Warner league, and you’re ready to play Varsity.
Take Pictures. Upload them to Flickr and Facebook. Pictures of what, you ask? Well, whatever it is that you’re writing about in social media. Have a tradeshow coming up? Do you have pictures from last year’s event that you can share online pre-event? People like pictures. And they really like seeing themselves in pictures, so if you take pics of your customers, try to connect with them and Facebook tag them if possible.
Create Video. Upload it to YouTube and/or Vimeo. This doesn’t have to be complicated. I do it with my day-to-day digital camera. At this point, most people can even do it with their phones. Just capture some customer reactions, behind-the-scenes footage, event participation – anything entertaining, really. Video makes everything more interesting and engaging.
Start Something Unique. Here’s where social media gets really fun. Do your homework. Find out about all of the cool social applications and campaigns companies have created using social media. Brainstorm some of your own. Make a plan. Get started. BUT…don’t even think about spending big bucks on an application or campaign unless you have a plan and you’ve already committed to all of the tactics listed above.
Now go forth and prosper, my social media padres! Please do your best to ignore the siren call of that Facebook friend request from your high school’s prom queen – focus on your business goals and manage your time wisely and you’ll see guaranteed results.
Next time, let’s talk about those goals…
Miranda McCage is an Associate Digital Strategist at MediaSauce. She’d like to hear about how you’re managing your time in social media. Contact Miranda at 317-284-5683, on Twitter @mirandamccage or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.