Social media is a fantastic marketing tool, not least because it is entirely free (though, as with many things, there are ways for you to spend your money). However, while it doesn’t necessarily carry a financial cost, it will take up a lot of your time if you let it.
If you are planning to use social media then you are no doubt planning on building a loyal and engaged fan base. No matter how wonderful your product is, that doesn’t happen overnight. You will need to have great content, which will no doubt come in a variety of formats; blogs, jokes, photos, videos, reviews, infographics etc. These things don’t just fall out of the sky, you will either have to source them or create them yourself.
You then have to find time to post them, which in itself is time consuming before you even factor in the analytical research you have to do to ascertain what the best time for you to post to your audience is.
However, social media is not just about putting great content out there, you need to be on hand to interact and encourage interaction. How are you going to get your audience to comment, like and share? One way is to build actual relationships – that means commenting, liking and sharing on their content too. That, I am sorry to say, can’t be faked or automated (though, it can be outsourced, of course).
It doesn’t matter how much time you have, just be honest with yourself.
If you don’t have much then the simple truth is you need to make the most of what time you do have. There is no point in jumping in to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn if you can only spare five minutes per day on all three. You will barely be able to schedule a post, let alone build any relationships. It is vitally important that you don’t spread yourself too thinly.
Social media is not a competition, and simply because someone else (perhaps a competitor) is on certain platforms does not mean you have to follow suit. Especially if you aren’t going to do a very good job of it. You may actually end up hindering your chances and destroying your relationships and brand in the process.
For those that are new to social media within their business, and don’t have much time to spare, I strongly recommend sticking with what you know. If you are more likely to be found on Twitter in your personal life than Instagram, then stick with that.
You will already know far more than you may think in terms of how the platform works, who is on there, the best times to post, and the content that gets the most interaction. Use that insider knowledge already at your disposal to give you a leg up. You can always add more platforms as time goes on and ask your existing followers to follow you elsewhere too.
Remember, if time is an issue you can schedule posts in advance using things like Hootsuite (my personal favourite), Buffer or Social Sprout. Sitting down one day a week, or month and pre-loading content for your social network is a much better use of your time as you will be in the “zone” and able to concentrate on your voice and the message you are trying to put out there. You will then just have to find a small amount of time per day to engage with your network and comment in real time.