Goshen News, Goshen, IN

May 4, 2014

TECH TALK: Save time and improve success with social media

By MIKE GINGERICH Columnist
Goshen News

---- — Social media has grown and intersected our lives in a powerful way. The majority of Internet users are active on at least one, if not multiple, social media networks. A recent study by ecommerce platform Shopify outlined data from its research showing how powerful the impact of social media is on online purchases by consumers. Social media use, from following brands on social to watching the “Likes” and comments of friends, impacts buyer behavior.

It’s a fact that social media is a good means for businesses to connect with their ideal audience and increase connection, loyalty and trust toward future purchases.

However, for businesses, one of the big difficulties of social media can be the time that needs to be invested to do social media well. From creating posts and content that engage to responding to comments and reviewing stats, the process can be time consuming. The situation can feel like a never-ending sinkhole that continues to consume more and more of your resources.

The solution is a “doable” and sustainable social media strategy. Having a plan that helps your business focus, have a map and manage it efficiently will help you move from distracted and behind to strategic and intentional, with a clear view of what you are doing, how it is going, and what the benefits are.

Here are three time-saving social media tips to help a business focus:

Create your digital marketing strategy

This is the starting point. It should be an overview of your aim and is developed from knowing the characteristics and digital habits of your ideal customers. Things such as where they spend time (mobile, social and web), what social networks they spend the most time on, and what problems they are trying to overcome that your product or service solves. Write it down so you have a documented overview of your customer persona. There might be up to three or four key personas.

A digital marketing strategy encompasses ways your business uses your website, blog, email marketing and social media in a cohesive way to then reach this ideal audience. As I outline in my “3 Key Elements of a Digital Marketing Strategy” (http://mikegingerich.com/3keys/), the focus is on a multi-step process to attract and engage the ideal customer, then move them from fan and follower to a lead that is nurtured via email marketing. This is where further trust is built and education to help them be ready to purchase occurs. Finally, specific sales offers are given. By being intentional in this process, a business can organize the process, break it into helpful steps and remove the overwhelm on how to start and what to do.

Create a content marketing and social media editorial calendar

This is your master blueprint that takes the strategy you develop for your social marketing and breaks it down into tangible blog posts and social media posts. Plan these out so you can see the strategy ahead of time. With the editorial endar you’re creating specific posts that you’ll use on your website or your blog and then specific social posts related to those that drive the social interactions to these pages and posts on your site.

I recommend that you map out a month in advance for your plan. Use a spreadsheet to outline dates, topics and the specifics of the social posts. This helps you plan ahead and also leaves room for on-the-go adjustments and adding in additional time specific posts. So now, with your digital plan and your editorial calendar you’re creating the bulk of the framework for your strategy and taking the pressure off of the day-to-day.

Scheduling

Using a tool or a few tools to help you pre-schedule the date and time when blog posts and social posts go live is a key way to save time and get on with running your business. If you use WordPress for your blog, you can write a blog post ahead of time and then automate the time when that post goes live on your website. For your social media, I recommend scheduling in a tool that allows you to do multiple social networks. I use Buffer and Hootsuite. I craft different posts for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ within these tools but save time by having the core post and then adapting and scheduling for the key deployment times on each social network.

I know when my audiences are online most, when they tend to engage the most and I make sure to schedule for days and times in these “sweet spots”. These software tools give me analytics to help me measure the success of posts so that I can improve in the future, and I use Hootsuite to monitor social mentions so that I can respond to comments and tweets directed to our social properties.

Yes, social media happens 24/7/365, but you can’t and shouldn’t be available all the time. With a strategy like this you can have a clear picture of your aim and plan, and have items deploying at key times that can be outside your work hours. The bottom-line is that there are ways to be more effective and efficient with your social media management. It does not need to control you or consume you, in fact, it should not. You need to find ways to create a strategy and a structure that can be handled efficiently, and with this order and organization comes a freedom and a peace that you can engage well and produce content and posts that fit with your strategy as well as offering timely responses and engagement on social networks.

What’s your next action to create a “doable” social media marketing plan for your business?

Mike Gingerich leads the Digital Marketing and Social Application divisions of Digital Hill Multimedia (www.DigitalHill.com). He is a co-founder of TabSite.com, a leader in Facebook fan page tools for businesses. TabSite offers brands the power to boost Facebook marketing with contests and promotions. For more information on TabSite, please visit www.tabsite.com.