If you're struggling to get everything done, it can be really tough to make time for an active social media presence.
But you know how important social media is for growing your business, especially if you have competitors who are making great use of it.
How can you carve out a little more time ... without letting social media take over your day?
Don't Try to Be Everywhere
Every few months, a hot new social network pops up. If you tried to join all of them, you'd soon have no time left for anything else.
You don't need to be everywhere at once. It's better to focus on one to three networks, and build a really strong presence there, than to spread your efforts across lots of different sites.
- Where are your target customers most likely to be? If you're in B2B, that might be LinkedIn. If you're aiming at a young audience, it might be Instagram.
- What networks suit you best? Perhaps you like the quick, concise nature of Twitter, or you enjoy the visual focus of Pinterest.
Tip: Set up a Google+ account and implement Google Authorship, for greater prominence in search engine results. It's worth building up your profile so you're in a decent number of circles, too, as this will display alongside your name and photo against results from your website.
Scheduling In Social Media
Are there any times in your day when you could easily spend few minutes checking on your social media accounts, replying to messages, and crafting updates?
Most business owners find it's best not to start the day with social media (or with emails), otherwise it's very easy to get distracted. But perhaps your 11am coffee break is a great opportunity to spend 10 minutes on Facebook and Twitter.
Of course, you can also install apps on your phone or tablet to manage your social networks whenever you've got some dead time while waiting around.
Tip: Look for times in the day when you're not at your most focused. Perhaps you want to spend the mornings on major projects, but you have a post-lunch slump that would be a good opportunity to take it a little slower and find some new images to pin.
Don't Let Social Media Take Over
Perhaps your problem with social media isn't so much finding the time as making sure it doesn't distract you from all the other work you should be doing.
It's incredibly easy to get drawn in, but by setting clear times for social media, and by having a purpose in mind before opening up any social media sites or apps, you make it easier to stay on track.
While it's important to get back to people quickly on social media (you definitely don't want customer questions or complaints going visibly unanswered for days), you don't need to be logged in 24/7. A quick check once every couple of hours is generally more than enough: don't feel obliged to have notifications popping up constantly.
Tip: Decide (a) what you want to do and (b) how long you're going to spend before you login to your social networks. You might find it helps to set a timer for 10 - 15 minutes to keep you focused.
Using Automation Wisely
You don't have to log into each social media site every time you want to put out an update. In fact, you can queue up a bunch of updates days or even weeks ahead of time.
While some experts believe automation goes against the spirit of social media (Scott Stratten has spoken up against it), the reality is that most companies use some level of automation.
Sharing Blog Posts or Mailouts
Most blogging platforms and email solutions have the option to automatically share your post or mailout on various social networks. (You'll normally have the ability to customize the automated message to some degree.)
This can be a handy timesaver, especially if you find you often forget to share posts or emails.
Buffer allows you to queue up a bunch of messages (tweets, Facebook posts, etc) ahead of time, and to post the same message to multiple networks at once. It's free at the basic level, or you can pay if you want more advanced features.
BulkBuffer is a simple, free way to upload a whole file of updates to Buffer at once - either in a text file or a csv. If you want to create a whole month's worth of updates in one go, this is an efficient way to do it.
HootSuite lets you manage several different accounts on different networks from one place. If you need to monitor incoming messages frequently, it's a great way to do that. You can also send updates through it. Again, there's a free plan, or you can pay for more features.
Tip: Be very careful if you use HootSuite or other apps to manage both personal and professional accounts. There have been several high-profile cases of individuals accidentally tweeting or posting to Facebook from a company account. I'm guilty of doing this myself when I accidentally shared my personal Facebook message with over 250,000 fans of List25.
Do you use social media to market your business? What tips do you have on finding enough time?
Image from Flickr by Axel Schwenke.