Social media websites are touted as one of the greatest ways to connect with customers and potential customers online. Business executives are deluged with reason why they should be blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, Linking-In, and so on – free marketing and market research, customer service, search visibility! The list is extensive and continues to grow.
However, these same very busy business executives have learned that there are drawbacks to the Social Media marketing sphere, the most challenging of which is time management. How does a business person have time to do their job when they are spending the entire day Tweeting, Facebooking, and so on?
The key to managing a social media presence online is the same as the key to good time management: manage the tools, don’t let the tools manage you.
Social Media Timeline – What to do When
If a business or executive is building a strong web 2.0 presence, it is important to maintain a consistent schedule, and to update fans, followers and customers on a regular basis. Here is a basic timeline of how often each kind of presence should be updated:
- Twitter – daily tweets, retweets and at-replies
- Facebook – a business Fan Page should strive for no less than once a week updates, and no more than once a day
- Blog posts should occur about twice each week, if not daily during the work week.
- Linked-In status updates should be changed about once each week
- Linked-In profile information should be updated on an as-needed basis, as well as connection request responses, etc.
Facebook fan pages and blogs can be delegated to one or more people, and are not as challenging to manage for this reason. Twitter and LinkedIn updates should not be delegated to other employees, they must be made by the individual represented by the account.
However, because the LinkedIn status updates can now be combined with Twitter updates, and because Twitter is more time-intensive overall, the focus of this article will be on Twitter time management.
Employ Free Tools to Help Manage Time spent on Twitter
First, it is a good idea to download and employ an easy to use tool such as TweetDeck or HootSuite that is suitable for your purposes. The best of these free tools are available for desktop PC access and via smart phone applications. They are available to help users reply, retweet and mark as read all of the tweets from those they are following. These applications also help sort pre-defined search terms (such as a brand name mention by a user the business is not yet following).
Another benefit of a site like HootSuite is that users can manage multiple Twitter accounts, and pre-draft and schedule Tweets to post a day later during peak hours, or when the account holder is taking a day off. Many of these sites also allow users to manage more than one account on various social media platforms.
Take Five Minutes to Check Twitter, ReTweet and Reply
Twitter is more about conversations about other people than it is about getting a particular message out to the masses. For this reason, if an executive doesn’t have time to draft a witty and cogent tweet for the day, it is acceptable to simply at-reply and retweet at a minimum.
Here is a sample 5-minute schedule for this process:
- Executive opens TweetDeck, and checks at-replies directed at his or her account and responds to them. 30 seconds
- Then, he or she looks at the searches for brand mentions – ReTweets positive notes with a thank you message, and responds to negative tweets via a Direct Message or an at-reply indicating that the person has been heard, and that action will be taken. 30 seconds to 2 minutes
- Executive skims through the Tweets from the people he or she is following. (Note: it is not necessary to read every single tweet! Just skim for the words or ideas that jump out.) 30 seconds to 1 minute
- He or she reTweets interesting articles or thoughts, if possible adding to the message with his or her personal opinion. 30 seconds to 2 minutes
- Executive verifies that there are no further actions, and closes TweetDeck.
Obviously, this entire process may take as little as one or two minutes, or as many as five minutes depending on how many people this executive is following. It can be performed on a smartphone on a commuter train, or in the five minutes between meetings. The trick to limiting the time spent reading new tweets is a combination of Twitter Lists and prioritization.
Schedule Twitter Time in Outlook
While it is still important for the business user to send out tweets pointing to the company blog, news and industry insights, it is not essential to do so every single day. This shortened process shows users online that the person is active, still listening, and aware of what’s going on, without demanding too much of his or her time.
Scheduling an additional time to draft pre-scheduled Tweets, or to shorten links and prepare ideas is another way to limit the amount of time spent on Twitter business accounts. While the best tweets are often off-the-cuff and spur of the moment, it can be valuable to plan a few days ahead when messaging is important.
Executives may also want to set aside a full hour once each week to check sites like Mr. Tweet and other tools to update and manage their lists, add new accounts to those they are following, and block or unfollow those accounts that don’t add value.