Escape the social-media black hole.
You were just going to check your Facebook page for five minutes and -- poof -- there goes an hour. It's not just you; this happens to everyone. Social media has a reputation for making you lose all sense of time. It's a big black hole which sucks you in (right along with your productivity). One of the big hesitations advisors have about social media is the time commitment represented by all those tweets, friends, follows and likes.
I have to agree: Social media can be time consuming -- but it doesn't have to be. Using social media for your business can actually be a highly effective and rewarding use of your time. Here's how:
Quality not quantity. If your time and resources are limited, your first step should be to determine which social-media platforms are the most deserving of your time. It's better to be 100 percent active on a few sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, than have incomplete profiles and sporadic activity on multiple sites.
Also, make sure that what you're saying is worthwhile. Don't flood your networks with "word spam" because you don't have enough time to produce real content. A few relevant articles or thoughtful questions are all you need to spark user engagement.
Create a schedule. One of the best pieces of advice for managing your social-media marketing is to create a detailed editorial calendar. A social-media calendar will help you stay organized and accountable, both of which are important for executing a quality social-media strategy. You can get all your social-media updating done in one block on a given weekday or spend a small amount of time each day.
Use shortcuts. Sharing your firm's latest video blog or event invite on multiple social sites every week can be extremely time-consuming. But there a few shortcuts that can save you precious time:
* Use your editorial calendar to schedule all your tweets, posts and updates in advance. This will give you the freedom to focus on other business during the week.
* Take advantage of dashboards such as Hootsuite, which allow you to post content to multiple sites at once. This way you won't have to log onto three or four different platforms to say the same thing.
* Search specific topics and keywords with Google Alerts, which will send you emails containing the content you choose. This saves you having to sift through endless newsfeeds to find the information you need.
* Follow up on all your social activity in one place. After you've scheduled and posted your content, you can continue to use a dashboard site to keep track of user engagement and respond to reader comments.
Taking time to get organized is going to be your biggest asset in the battle against the social-media black hole. Once you have a clear plan to manage your social-media campaign, you'll be on your way to seeing results.
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Amy McIlwain is a professional speaker on social media and president of Financial Social Media, an online marketing firm specializing in the financial industry. She can be reached through her website www.financialsocialmedia.com and on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.