When it comes to social media marketing, one of the biggest fears small business owners have is the time commitment. Yes, the majority of sites have no hard costs associated with them, but time is money. Fortunately, even the most time-starved owner or marketer can participate in the social media marketing phenomenon without breaking the time piggy bank. Consider these suggestions:
1. Allot time to be social. As anyone who has spent time browsing friends’ pictures or reading countless status updates can attest, social media can be a major time sink. Allot a few minutes during specific times of the day to check in with your social media pages, post an update, respond to questions, and keep a pulse on what’s happening.
2. Use tools to help. As the number of people you’re connected with on social media sites grows, trying to keep up with the constant flow of updates is like drinking from a proverbial fire hose. There are a number of free tools available that can help you keep up without drowning in information, including the following:
NutshellMail is a service that aggregates updates from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, and more and delivers them to your e-mail inbox on a regular schedule. You can reply to tweets, make comments on Facebook posts, and keep track of keywords on Twitter right from your e-mail.
HootSuite is a service that lets you track all of your social media networks, schedule updates to go out automatically throughout the day, and set alerts if certain terms or phrases are mentioned.
CoTweet allows users to manage their Twitter presence. Users can schedule tweets to go out, monitor for mentions of their company or products, and assign specific people to get notifications during different times of the day.
One caveat: If you’re using social media—Twitter, in particular—to monitor for support issues, you’ll want to increase your check-in frequency or take advantage of one of the tools mentioned above that can proactively alert you to any issues. You don’t want unanswered questions or complaints hanging out there too long without a response.