I’m not going to spend this blog post convincing you that your business can benefit from a well thought out social media strategy. I think you already know that. In fact, most companies now realize that social media isn’t a fad and can provide some serious results. I’m simply going to ask you one question: do you have time for social media?
Another popular form of this question is “who is going to do all this stuff?” While it may seem funny, it’s one of the most important questions to ask before diving into a new campaign. Unlike some other forms of marketing, social media requires a constant investment of time and effort.
How much time does social media take?
It’s less “Build it and they will come” and more “Build it, take care of it, staff it, ensure it has all of the proper resources and then they will come.” Building a successful social media presence is like establishing a friendship. It’s not going to happen over night and it’s going to take a lot of effort on your part to develop.
Forecasting your time investment
I don’t know if there is an absolute way to quantify the time requirement but the considerations below should help you estimate the level of time needed to properly manage your campaign.
1. Define your goals
Defining your goals will give you an idea of what it will take to accomplish them. Do you have lofty goals like becoming a thought leader around a specific topic? Maybe your goals are more tactical, such as simply listening to your customers and better understanding their needs. Depending on your choice, the time commitment will vary widely.
2. Determine the current level of conversation
Similar to forecasting search volume, you can get a gauge for how many conversations are already taking place about your company, category or offering. To obtain this data, you can perform relevant searches across social networks, utilize keyword research tools or use one of the many social media forecasting and listening tools available.
If you operate within a smaller market or niche, you may find that the current level of chatter is very small or limited to specific websites and blogs. On the other hand, if you operate within a large competitive market, there may be thousands of conversations taking place across hundreds of websites. The greater the volume, the greater the time investment.
3. Determine your level and area of engagement
How do you plan on reaching people? Are you going to author a blog? How about a facebook company page? You could always join a relevant forum and become a top contributor.
The opportunities are really endless and the choice of engagement points should actually be the easiest of all questions to answer. By now, you’ve clearly defined your goals, you know where conversations are occurring and what people are talking about. How and where will you add value to the conversation?
It’s time to be honest with yourself. You know exactly what you need to do but can you do it?
Let’s make up an example for illustrative purposes. You’ve gone through the steps outlined above and determined that within your industry there isn’t a helpful portal for consumers and a lot of misinformation is floating around. Your competitors keep valuable information behind closed doors and don’t want consumers empowered in any way. You realize that freeing this information and making it publicly available will present you as an authority on the subject and create a ton of credibility for the organization. So you decide to write a blog.
Being an expert within your industry means you have the necessary knowledge and you know what topics are most relevant to consumers. However, the thought of writing anything longer than an email gives you the cold sweats…you image yourself starting blankly at a computer screen waiting for the right words to come. Plus, you barely have enough time to handle everything else on your plate let alone write an article for a blog. You realize you need help but where should it come from?
If you need help, what are your options?
Option 1: Don’t do it
You think I’m joking, but I’m not. Halfheartedly doing something just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make a lot of sense. The decision to engage in social media should be handled just like any other decision in business – with careful consideration and analysis. You may find out that engaging in social media doesn’t make sense for your business or, more likely, it isn’t feasible at the current time given your resources.
Option 2: Share the responsibility
If the commitment is too much for one person or you want to ensure that the success doesn’t depend solely on a single individual, consider having multiple employees share the responsibility. In this day and age, every employee should be an advocate of your company and offering. I highly recommend that companies pursuing social media develop guidelines of conduct and then encourage participation within the organization. Just ensure that personal conversations aren’t lost from person to person.
Option 3: Hire someone
If you don’t currently have the resources in house, consider adding employees with the right skill set to focus on social media.
Option 4: Outsource
If you don’t want to hire someone internally, you can always outsource some of your efforts. We’ve talked about outsourcing social media on here before and my stance remains the same – transparency is necessary for this to work.
Make the most of your time
No matter who is handling your social media marketing, the recommendations below will help them make the most of their time.
- Invest in the right tools
There’s absolutely no shortage of tools available. Some cost money, some are free. Utilizing the right tools is crucial for a successful campaign. Being able to hear the right conversations while ignoring the irrelevant will allow you to focus your attention and maximize efficiency.
- Organize your day
Social media is always on but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan for it. Organize your day and set aside specific times for tasks. If you have the right tools, most of the listening will happen automatically ensuring interruptions are minimized.
Not every conversation requires an immediate response and some conversations are much more relevant than others. Develop a method of prioritizing events and conversations; respond to the most crucial events first and in the proper format.
We’d love to hear your thoughts – how much of your day do you spend on social media marketing?