In 2013, 62% of marketers reported spending more than 6 hours weekly on social media marketing. That’s just the social media portion of their marketing!*  That’s a huge chunk of time! For newer companies or those with a small marketing department, that can seem so overwhelming that it may not seem worthwhile. And yet we know that, with a touch of strategy and an ounce of organization, the results will be worthy of the time.
So how can you keep up without losing any more time? I’m here to tell you 5 steps that make it easier than you might think.

[Tweet “In 2013, 62% of marketers reported spending more than 6 hours weekly on social media marketing. https://abaskmarketing.com #socialmedia”]
Prepare

You will need original content created by you and hosted on your website before you can set up your social media month. You don’t need a ton, but enough for at least ten posts (each piece of content can be used more than once if you simply adjust the headings a little). When we say content, we mean slide shows, brochures, videos, press releases, newsletters, of course blogs, and anything else that markets your services and is worthy of sharing with your audience.

Be realistic

When Abask develops content for clients we have a six point process that we use. It includes analyzing the target audience to understand what information they want from you; gathering keywords to make sure Google ranks each of your blogs highly and your Facebook page is found (believe it or not, Google is not the only search engine you have to worry about!) and understanding where your readers lie within the purchase lifecycle (are they ready to buy today or do they need more encouragement?) and there’s more…

But, we don’t think you should do any of that. We want you to be realistic about what you can manage.
The persona you build on social media and any other interactive channels will be the persona your customers come to expect from you. If you are disorganized or disheveled online, that’s the way your business will be perceived. So, it’s better to post to social media twice a week and keep up with that schedule than try to post once daily and lose steam after one month.

Below I will lay out our recommendations, but take it with a grain of salt. Come up with the schedule you can manage by taking into account how many people will be involved and the time they can devote. Once the schedule is set, make sure it’s easily visible to everyone on the team. Make people accountable for their portion.

The 80/20 rule

[Tweet “We follow the 80/20 principle on social media: 20% of what we post to social media directly promotes your brand and 80% encourages sharing through interesting posts and engaging conversation. https://abaskmarketing.com #socialmedia”]

When working on the 20% of content that deals directly with your brand we share content that has been published on your blog, the latest company news and  slideshows and downloads we have created that may be useful to them. We also add commentary to the latest industry news or interesting information published by others. Of course we give credit to the author of the piece we’re commenting on, with a link to the original content, but by commenting and adding something to the borrowed content, we have the right to house it on our own site, which helps drive traffic that we hope to then convert into customers.  Everything we post must integrate a persuasive call-to-action that inspires your audience to learn more about your company so it possibly leads to conversion in the future. Once you have enough content to fill your 20%, you can start thinking about the types of content and the audience they are targeting, but for starters let’s just work on building 20%.

The 80% is content that helps our audience stay interested and shows our relevance within the industry, but has less call to action and more brand awareness than anything else. Most of the time it doesn’t even link to our website. We’re talking about retweets and shout-outs, inspirational quotes, links to news or infographics. Next, we’ll talk about where you can find this information.

Gather your ingredients.

As you build up your own library of blog posts, you will start to come back to the same tools that keep you organized. Use a tool to keep track of different content ideas and categorize them, first by 80/20. We like Hootsuite.

The first place we go for excellent content to fit the 80% category is Twitter. We look around at our friends on Twitter to see what they are talking about, choose a handful that stand out and schedule them as retweets. We can schedule them throughout the week to fill up our calendar as long as the content will still be relevant later in the week. If it’s news that needs to be reported now, schedule it now!

To come up with more of the 80%, our favorite tool is Flipboard. Flipboard is one site that pulls content from our favorite sources all over the Internet, so we set up Flipboard to collect articles from our favorite publishers and on a daily basis we skim the articles, flag those you’d like to use for commentary pieces and copy the links of those to schedule to social media. Doing it daily only takes about ten minutes a day and about 45 minutes every Friday to set them up to post throughout the following week.

[Tweet “To build 80% of social media content, our favorite tool is @Flipboard. https://abaskmarketing.com #socialmedia”]

By filling in the 80%, you’ve already done most of the heavy lifting! Congratulations!

Now, on to the easy stuff. You should already have a library of content to share. Go back and choose blogs you haven’t already shared online and schedule those. Remember that you will need to keep up with this schedule so don’t share everything at once, spread it out to equal one or two blog posts a week and then add in slide shows you may have created, company news, newsletters, and commentary pieces – these are the articles you flagged on Flipboard that you think your have something to add to. There are a ton of ways to find new, or refurbish old content, but that’s a separate blog post for another day.

Schedule away

Now you have your content and your schedule, it’s time to plug in the posts and schedule your little heart out!
When companies are just starting out, we recommend taking a really good look at which networks will work for you. There are, of course, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+, but there are also thousands more that may be more relevant and targeted toward your perfect audience.

Don’t be married to the standards. Pick the networks that will work for you as well as the networks that you can manage and focus on those. We have found that our Facebook presence has wavered recently and after much hemming and hawing have decided to simply leave a placeholder there and focus on other networks more relevant to our target audience of entrepreneurial spirits: Google+

If time is an issue, choose your key network and focus most of your energy there. Let the others run on autopilot.

Autopilot Schedule:

Twitter: Schedule a post every hour on the hour. Spend 10 minutes every day after lunch reading the recent posts of your friends, commenting and picking up on relevant retweets to add to next week’s schedule.

Facebook and Google+: Schedule a post once a day (if you can maintain this). Post daily and be sure your phone alerts are set up to ping you when you receive comments and reach out to your friends (and key influencers) at least twice weekly.

LinkedIn: Make a decision. Will you focus your energy on your company page or on employees sharing your content? I recommend the latter. For our clients, we post to the company page and promote the page within our content, but we spend more time engaging employees, providing them with incentive to share the content and reminding them to share it as it’s published.

That’s how you can create and schedule one month of posts on social media in less than an hour – create a schedule, gather content (80/20) and plug the posts into your calendar.
The tools we used today: Hootsuite, Feedly and Twitter.

The most important aspect of your social media strategy is understanding your goals, your audience’s goals and knowing the link between the two. Once you have that, finding the content to share with them becomes a lot easier. If you need help with any of this information, please don’t hesitate to comment, or send me an email.

What is the most time consuming part of social media for your business?

For me it’s the data analysis. Here, at Abask Marketing, we are sticklers for data. We need to know which campaigns are engaging our audience, driving traffic to our website and converting those visitors into customers. We spend hours on a monthly basis and days each quarter monitoring, evaluating and tweaking the data in order to fine tune the campaigns and provide the optimal results to our clients. If you would like to know about the data analysis tools we use, our monthly newsletter covers all of our favorite tools – subscribe today!

*Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 2013.