How much time do you spend on social media every week? An hour? Four hours? Forty?
To give you an idea of what’s about normal for social media management time, consider the chart below. It’s from Social Media Examiner’s 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report.
Here’s how that data looks if you slice it according to company size:
As you can see, more than half of marketers spend 6 hours or more each week on social media work. That’s a significant time commitment. If you fall in with the 41% who spend 11 hours or more a week it’s an even bigger commitment.
To help you free up some time, we researched how other marketers save time on social media. We also rounded up our own timesaving tips. Here are the best techniques we found to spend less time on social media work while still getting stellar results:
1) Get yourself some social media automation software.
Still manually doing social media work? It’s time to stop. Immediately. Even if you can’t afford $1 a month for a social media tool, there are dozens of free scheduling tools to make your life easier. Buffer is one. SocialOomph is another. (And if you do have a little budget, just a grand a year, here’s how to spend it.)
But don’t think we condone automating all your social media activities. You should spend a little time interacting with real people on social media. But you can absolutely automate at least half to two-thirds of your social media updates.
Your first automation efforts don’t need to be elaborate, either. Just schedule a few posts in advance to start. Once that’s comfortable, see if you can’t set up an automated report from your social media software, or from your Google Analytics account.
One piece of automation we don’t recommend is automatically sending a welcome direct message (“DM”) to new Twitter followers. This is something I still see some people do, but I continue to hear from top-tier marketers than automatic DMs are a turn-off. If you still want to do this, or you want to see some of the opinions against automatic DMs, check out this discussion on Quora.
2) Fill in the gaps of your marketing automation or social media management software with Zapier and IFTTT.
These two online tools are basically another form of marketing automation, but with a difference. Zapier and IFTTT (If This, Then That) let different apps, websites and tools talk to each other. What you can do with them is downright amazing, maybe even revolutionary. By setting up a few “zaps” you can:
IFTTT is equally powerful. Here’s a few of the things it can do:
For a deep dive into what marketers can do with IFTTT, see Buffer’s post, “The Big List of IFTTT Recipes: 44 Hacks for Hardcore Social Media Productivity.”
3) Create a content vault.
Unless your company launched last week, you’ve probably got pieces of content all over the place. On different peoples’ computers. On different servers. Stuck in files of projects that never launched.
You need a content vault so you don’t have to go on a quest every time you need a photo.
Content vaults are where you keep all your company’s content: photos, text, presentation decks, video, direct mail campaigns, convention tchotchkes and all other assets. It should be organized so you can find things at a moment’s notice. Of course, the direct mail and the tchotchkes may need to be scanned or photographed to fit on a digital server.)
A fancy content vault might let you track where each piece of content has been used. Just don’t go crazy. The idea is to have a vault that’s good enough to save you time. Don’t spend the next two years building the world’s most elaborate content vault.
Having a content vault also addresses one other major failing of most marketing departments. It makes you more likely to use or rework the content you’ve already got, rather than recreating it all over again just because no one remembers it or can find it. Nobody wants to contribute to that painful statistic about how 60%-70% of B2B content never gets used.
Don’t share just your own content. It’s a bit rude to talk only about yourself. But that’s not even the worst sin of sharing only your own content. The biggest risk is that you’ll be boring – truly a mortal sin on social media.
So what’s an ideal mix of your own and other people’s content? Some sources say any more than 20% of your own content is too much. Of course, if you work at a content machine, things might be different. If your company publishes several pieces of content a day, you could probably post a higher percentage of your own content and still be fine.
5) Check data, but don’t obsess over it.
When you really want results, it’s tempting to check your stats every ten minutes to see how things are going. Try to resist that urge. It wastes a lot of time.
Some people get lured into creating reports, or trying to sift and re-sift their data to find the formula for the perfect post. That’s not a bad aspiration, but limit your data indulgence to no more than every two weeks.
There’s another way to even more results from your reporting: Apply it. Do that deep-dive analysis, then circle back and refresh your post templates. For example, if you notice that three types of posts do great, take those posts and use them as templates for your next updates. This saves time, and often results in significantly improved engagement rates over time.
6) Sharpen your skills.
Does it take you more than five minutes to add text to an image? Are you barely literate in Excel?
We all have weak spots. No one expects you to be a whiz at everything, but if you want to save time, improve the skills that are slowing you down.
This doesn’t have to mean you enroll in night classes. The web is awash in tutorials. If you run out of free resources try Udemy or Lynda.com.
7) Don’t post more than you have to.
Posting less often means less work.
Consider this: What if you posted half as often as you are now? What would happen?
It’s possible you could post half as often and still get nearly the same results. Especially if you used your social media management software to find out when your ideal time to share is.
Maybe you can’t cut all the way down to half as many posts. But what about trimming even 20%? Make this one of the things you test.
8) Get off platforms that aren’t generating ROI.
This one can be painful. You’ve invested so much in each platform. But if you really aren’t getting results, it might be time to cut back.
This is not an overnight decision. You should discuss it with your team at length. But what if you cut your worst-performing platforms, and instead used that time on the platforms that generate results? How much more business could you get?
9) Republish some of your content.
Yes, you can repost your updates on social media. The social media etiquette police will not hunt you down. Bursting tweets and over-tagging people on Facebook? That might get you busted.
But it’s okay to repost about 5-10% of your content. Only repost updates that did particularly well. Also try reposting them at a different time than the original post.
This won’t annoy your followers. Alas, most of them never saw your first update. And even if you reposted your content ten times again, few of your followers would see it twice.
10) Create a listening station.
A listening station alerts you to whenever someone mentions your company, products, staff or content.
The classic way to set up a listening station is to create a few Google Alerts. This is free and takes less than 15 minutes. Unfortunately, Google Alerts won’t capture every mention of your company. To listen more closely, try tools like Mention or SocialMention.
11) Have one super-simple social media task to do when you have down time.
I’ve mentioned how important it is to participate on social media. That doesn’t mean scheduling posts. It means actually interacting with other humans on social media in real time.
There are a number of ways to do this. You can:
- Like people’s updates.
- Retweet or share people’s updates.
- Comment on people’s updates.
- Comment on blog posts.
- Thank someone.
- Tell someone you liked their presentation/ blog post/ webinar.
That’s all easy to do. But it takes time. And because most of us have more pressing things to do, it’s extremely easy to squeeze out the human part of social media.
But if you pick one task, on one platform, and focus on that, it is possible to make progress.
Now, I realize a lot of us don’t have much down time. A couple of you might have even laughed when I used that term. But I’m not talking about even ten minutes here. I’m talking two minutes or less. Even a minute or less.
Maybe it’s answering one question a day on a LinkedIn group. Or liking even one person’s update on LinkedIn. Or finding one thing to retweet on Twitter.
One tiny but authentic action per day on social media can make a difference. People really appreciate when you say thank you, or if you speak up and just say “hey – that was good!” They remember it. They remember you.
12) Have a written strategy – and stick to it.
As Thomas Merton wrote,
“People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.”
This happens too often in social media. It’s possible to build a big social following and get high engagement rates… but not get results that contribute to your business.
The solution is to have a goal, then create a plan that realistically gets you to that goal. This is why startups with business plans are more likely to succeed. It’s also what the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs discovered in their B2B Content Marketing 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report. “60% of those [marketers] who have a documented strategy rate themselves highly in terms of content marketing effectiveness, compared with 32% of those who have a verbal strategy.”
With a little thought and some new skills, there’s no reason you can’t slice 20% off the time you spend on social media. Just remember to get your strategy right first. Then focus on the content, and then get the automation tuned in. And don’t ever forget the people. Social media begins and ends with people.
Got any social media timesaving tricks we missed? Tell us about them in the comments.