In Part 1 we looked at 7 signs You May be On a Social Media Treadmill. Tweeting, blogging, Facebooking… being here, there and everywhere is difficult to keep up long term. Do it long enough and burnout is certain. I call it social media’s “dirty little secret” – nobody really talks about the sheer amount of time you must invest to start your social media presence, keep it up and keep it going. Plus, stay abreast with the breathless pace of new social media tools that come out every single day – in virtually every single area.
Very few businesses will admit that the time factor can be a major turn-off from using social media, partly because you’re expected to “just do it.” But the more I speak with smaller businesses, the more I believe it is one of the elephants in the room and a big reason for their reluctance to engage in social media (It’s still a challenge with larger businesses, however they then to have the resources to manage it, which smaller business initially do not).
So what’s a business owner to do? How to be involved, benefit from your social media and social networking efforts without it becoming a burden, and without your social media footprint becoming a modern day version of the “Marie Celeste?”
I’d like to offer the following tips. They are based in part conversations I have had with other entrepreneurs, their experiences and my own experience. They are by no means exhaustive. As always you need to take action and try them to see results.
Preamble 1 – Read my previous post if you haven’t already.
1. Understand what sets you apart from everyone else
What makes you – or your brand - different from everyone else? How do you stand out from the millions of tweeters, Face bookers, Linkers, Bloggers etc? It could be your personality, your voice, your offer… whatever it is you need to determine it. And if you’re thinking “But Nicky ,this sounds like you’re talking USP”,(unique selling point) you’re right. Social media isn’t really about going along with the crowd it’s about carving out your niche in order to shine. From a world of faceless business and one way conversation, social media offers you the ability to do the complete reverse. People can put a face to us and more than that they can actually get a feel for what we are like. We can become personal, and in so doing, we have a wonderful chance to be unique and that is attractive. So, how do you stand out?
Again, what makes you stand out from the crowd?
2.Which social media platform best harnesses YOUR uniqueness?
The point is you need to pick and choose which platform to use according to what you think best harnesses your (or your business) uniqueness. If you are using all of the above then you need to ensure you link everything you do on each platform. For example I recently discovered that on Facebook Pages (which I am using for launching another project) you can tweet your updated to Twitter by linking your accounts. This interlinking saves a lot of time.
If using just two works for you then use just those two and be consistent.
3. Pick a Central Hub from which everything flows
You could go to great lengths building up a social media presence and brand on Facebook or Twitter, but at the end of the day YOU do not control those platforms. They could be gone tomorrow, or when the Next Big Thing comes along (and it will). As long as you do not own your platform you are at the mercy of someone else. Some social network platforms are the flavour of the month now, but what about tomorrow? As a business you need to think long term. And that means making something else your central hub. Suggestion? – Your Blog. If you don’t have a blog or don’t want to blog, then you need to find a way to make your website your central hub. Or you can build a stand along community by establishing your own social networking platform.
With a blog you control everything. You can build a community, you can link to it from each social media platform, you can distribute your content in any way shape or form to any of your other social platforms. Best of all with the judicious use of your keywords you get SEO to work for you.
Here are some other examples:
You write a post and update Facebook and Twitter automatically and drive people back to reading your blog…
You blog and use the “Share This” so others may share your content with their networks…
You share insights in forums and communities and link back to your blog for more information…
You offer expertise to your fans and link back to your blog for more…they spread the word. They help you.
I have always believed in the power of the blog. To me it’s the perfect Central Hub. That way if a social media platform changes their T’s and C’s overnight, or disappears, all my hard work isn’t lost. The key thing is –I control my blog. And that means I can focus better.
Which brings me to the next critical point.
4. Have a strategy to pull it together
You now know…
- What makes you or your brand unique
- Which platforms help express and harness your uniqueness
- Where your Central Social Media Hub is
The next step is to put in place a strategy for using your chosen platforms. Include the outcomes you want to see and apply that strategy consistently. You will be amazed at how certain things will fall away and you will be able to focus far more effectively. Your strategy could include how you are going to repurpose content into different formats for different social platforms. And it should include some plan for how often you are going to interact on each one, so that you maintain the consistency.
5. Delegate, delegate
There are 24 hours in a day. Social media requires additional time investment and you probably won’t realize this until you have started out. Many small business are drowning in the seemingly endless number of sites they need to be active on to generate any kind of presence. It is this that contributes to the treadmill effect. If you want a life (and I assume you do), you can’t do it all. So get help. The most successful entrepreneurs outsource everything but the most value generating tasks. They focus on marketing and driving business because their most precious element is their time. Many small businesses struggle with letting go of any aspect of our business… and this make success hard to achieve.
Outsource the social media tasks that do not create value as you would any other task and focus on the critical tasks that do create the most value. Use a Virtual assistant, a college intern looking for experience or outsource, but delegate, delegate, delegate.
Time-saving tools of the trade
In terms of tools for updating your various statuses check out this post by Dean Reick on Hoot Suite. My only caveat with HootSuite as described in his post is that losing the SEO juice (in my mind a key benefit of blogging and social media especially given the power of search) would be a big thumbs down for me, especially in the light of getting the most from my time. However Dean does mention a work around so it could be worth considering. As Dean says, other tools do roughly the same thing, but he’s made something that works for him. And 20 mins a week for your social media marketing is worth investigating.
What are your thoughts? How do you manage your social media time? What tools work for you?