A tipsheet for managing small business social media

One indisputable truth about social media? It can be a time-suck.  It can distract more than it helps, if an entrepreneur or small business doesn’t manage it the right way.  And that’s as a business tool, a task with limits and apportioned hours, goals and calendars.

So there are some simple ways to having your social media efforts tip over into consuming more time and effort than they should:

  • Keep it on the clock. Control the hours you spend at the keyboard, and schedule the times when you use your social tools; just because you’ve gotten a pingback doesn’t mean you have to reply that moment, or even that day.
  • Prioritize your replies. Recognize that many of the interactions you’ll have may be instantaneous, but that doesn’t mean your response or conversation has to be immediate.   Most of the dialogues you’ll have probably won’t be with clients or hot prospects.
  • Chose your channels wisely. LinkedIn Answers, for example, or LinkedIn Groups are means to get yourself in front of others in your specific profession or targeted category, and allow you to present yourself as a leader who’s got the answers and insights others don’t.
  • Divide and socialize. If you’ve got multiple departments (or employees with specific areas of expertise), assign them each to their own Facebook or Twitter accounts — Sales versus Customer Service or Technical Support, as examples.  Your company looks larger, you drive better SEO results, and it keeps communications with your various audiences manageably segregated – do you ever want a CS inquiry showing up in the same channel your Sales team uses?
  • Set goals and mileposts. Remember, it’s media – just like an ad buy or a trade show, you want to define the results you’re after, and set a calendar or plan that lays out measurable goals.  Don’t just jump in without knowing exactly what you want to accomplish, and when and how you’ll get there.
  • Hire a ghost.  Bring on a writer or agency to implement your social media program, because they’ll treat it as a project, work within defined budgets and hours, and be accountable for results.  Make sure they’re immersed in your business and category and deliver the kind of value and results you’ve agreed upon beforehand.

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