Are you overwhelmed with social media marketing?
If you’re not careful, it can get out of hand.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest — they’re all powerful tools for marketing your business online, and you might be tempted to pursue them all.
In mid-2018, there were more than 60 popular social media networks, and that number will only increase moving forward.
Before long, you’ll have half a dozen accounts, hundreds of people to respond to on each website, and a sense of dread about what’ll happen to your online reputation if you can’t manage it all.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
You can simplify your social media marketing strategy and still get great results. Here are eleven tips to help make social media fun again—and still build your business in the process.
1. Only go where your customers are
There are so many social media channels nowadays that it can be overwhelming just trying to figure out which sites you need to participate on.
The simplest solution? Focus on the sites where your prospective customers already are.
For most businesses, that’s going to include the two big social media sites of the moment: Facebook and LinkedIn. LinkedIn is best for B2B companies, and Facebook has more of a B2C focus.
Beyond that, though, it will depend largely on the niche you’re targeting.
For eCommerce businesses, Instagram and Pinterest are good bets. If you’re building influence and thought leadership, keep up with Twitter. It all depends on your market.
Listen to your customers, and see which ones they talk about most, and then deliberately ignore all the rest.
Not only will it take less time, but you’ll be able to do it better. By limiting the number of sites you’re focusing on, you’ll be able to give each one the attention it deserves.
Over the long run, that will pay off with a much deeper engagement with your customers.
2. Take advantage of available tools
There are hundreds of tools out there that can help you better manage your social media presence.
The best benefit of these tools? They help you manage all your social accounts in one place, instead of visiting a half-dozen sites every day.
There are lots of these types of tools, but here are some of the most popular.
HootSuite lets you manage interaction as well as post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
Buffer works with more platforms, including Google Plus. Its focus is on social media post scheduling.
MeetEdgar automates posting by generating updates and pulling from pre-set types of content (like blog posts). It currently works with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Sprout Social is more of an enterprise-level app for larger businesses. That means a higher price tag, but also heftier features.
Anyone of those platforms can save you hours each week managing your social accounts.
3. Share the responsibility
Most successful brand social media accounts aren’t run by one person. Behind the single company voice there’s a team making sure they’re engaging potential customers in the right way, every day.
While companies don’t necessarily share their social media secrets, there are usually three strategies you can use.
First, you can use one employee at a time to update social feeds, rotating that employee on a regular basis. Some companies do it daily, while others rotate weekly. Either way, everyone gets to disconnect and take a break.
Another option is to have several people working at once. Employees may either update one account together (sometimes signing their respective updates with initials) or split the responsibility.
So one person might handle Twitter, another Facebook, a third Instagram, and so on. This is best for large brands with huge followings.
Finally, some companies opt to have “brand representatives” with their own accounts. This is the least common since social media accounts disappear when a person quits—but some companies use it.
4. Enlist help from the community
Providing useful, relevant information to your social media friends and followers gets difficult after a while.
When you’re immersed in a subject day after day, it all starts to sound the same, and you end up spending more and more time finding content to post.
The simplest fix: ask your community for help.
Let everyone know you’re looking for fresh, interesting content, and then let them send you ideas. You can also follow others who post relevant links and then repost those links.
It’s not stealing or cheating—it’s curating, and it’s one of the best roles you can serve on social media. By finding and sharing the best content, followers learn they can trust you to share posts they’ll like.
5. Schedule your updates
The best social media management tools allow you to schedule updates. This lets you batch your messages so they post regularly throughout the day.
Rather than taking five minutes every hour to post an update, you can just take half an hour in the morning or evening to schedule all of your posts for the day.
If you’re going to use this, use one of the tools mentioned earlier.
6. Don’t follow everyone who follows you
It’s common to feel like you should follow everyone who follows you.
On sites like Facebook, following is a two-way street. You accept a friend request and they automatically see your updates as you see theirs.
But on sites like Twitter and Instagram (as well as business pages on Facebook) users can follow you without a requirement to follow them back.
A lot of people think it’s good manners to follow anyone who follows you, and when you only have a few hundred followers, that can make sense.
But as your follower numbers grow from a few hundred to a few thousand or more, trying to keep up with all of those people is impossible, so don’t even try.
For example, I have hundreds of thousands of followers, but I only follow a fraction of those.
Nothing says you’re obligated to follow them back, and most people won’t be offended if you don’t.
7. Organize your friends and followers
If you just can’t bring yourself not to follow everyone who follows you, then take advantage of the organizational tools out there to filter your feeds.
Use lists on Twitter to categorize those you follow so you can make sure you’re getting the updates from those you care about most.
With other sites, use the filtering tools built into some of the social media management apps mentioned above to organize everyone.
You can create lists of most and least important people, allowing you to prioritize who you want to watch the most.
8. Stick to a time limit
Social media can be addictive.
It’s easy to get lost spending hours on sites like Instagram and Facebook. You find yourself popping over to check your new notifications and photos every ten minutes, interrupting your other work.
The best solution: use a timer. Set it for 15 or 30 minutes, and when the time is up, make yourself log out.
Or, if you’re managing multiple accounts, set the timer for 5 or 10 minutes, and then move on to the next account when it dings.
9. Use Google Alerts
Google Alerts is a free service from Google that keeps track of everything published to the web and sends you an email about anything containing keywords you specify.
Rather than spending hours looking for new content to post, set up Google alerts for common keywords and topics associated with your niche.
You should also set up alerts for your company and product names so you know what’s being said about you and your products and can respond appropriately.
You can opt to have the information emailed to you as soon as it’s found or on a daily or weekly basis.
For alerts related to your company or products, immediate alerts are probably the best idea so you know as soon as something is said and can address it quickly.
For everything else, a daily digest alert is more efficient.
10. Scan instead of read
Hang around social media long enough, and you become a master at scanning for relevant information.
Reading every update that comes your way would take hours, but you can scan all of them in a few minutes, picking out what’s important and what’s not, and then spending your time where it counts.
The simplest strategy is to look for relevant keywords from your company and industry, and then focus on those.
Or, if you’re looking for content to send to your friends and followers, most people will put the headline in their update before the link, allowing you to decide whether or not to click it.
In the beginning, it’ll be tough to figure out what’s relevant and what’s not, but give it time.
The longer you are active in social media, the better you get at instinctively spotting things that are important. Like everything else, it just takes practice.
11. Measure your impact and adjust accordingly
Too often we make a plan for how we’re going to use social media in our business and then blindly stick to that plan for months or years, with little review or adjustment.
But if you do that, you’ll waste a lot of time. As with any other marketing channel, you should periodically review your social media strategy and make any necessary adjustments.
For instance, you may find that you’re just not getting the results you expected from Twitter, Facebook, or one of the other social media sites you were targeting.
If that’s the case, do your best to figure out if there’s something you’re doing wrong. If your strategy is good but still not getting results, then ask yourself if it’s really worth your time to continue.
This simplifies things by streamlining where we’re placing our efforts. If a certain channel just isn’t working for your business, then stop using it.
Refocus your energy into the channels that are working for you.