Time-saving social media tips for small businesses
No matter what business you’re in, you can’t afford to not have a social media presence. But while it’s must-have strategy, it can quickly become a time-sink.
If you’re a solopreneur or a small business, you’re probably too busy to afford this wasted time. On top of running your business, adding being active on social media can be a struggle.
Here’s the thing: social media shouldn’t be a time waster. In this post we’ll give you some time-saving social media tips so you can get the most of platforms like Facebook and Twitter, without it being a time drain.
The biggest waste of time in social media happens when you start and manage it without any real plan or focus. A proper plan helps you to establish who you’re trying to reach, what you want to accomplish and which social tactics to use to achieve your goals. Only with a plan can you avoid ineffective, time-wasting tactics.
There are many ways to use social media to grow your business. While not every strategy out there will fit your goals, make sure to choose two or three ways that social media can fit into your marketing plan.
For example, if one if your marketing goals is to grow your email list, here are just two things you can do with Twitter and Facebook.
- Implement Twitter’s lead generation cards. – You can work these cards directly within your promoted tweet to collect users’ contact information in exchange for your offer.
Here’s an example from The Barista Bar:
- Use Facebook’s call-to-action button from your page’s cover image in order to send people to your email signup page.
Whatever your goals – whether it’s to get more leads, to sell or to increase brand awareness – you can only measure the results if you know what they are. Learn more about how to create a social media action plan that works.
You have meetings. Your have client presentations. Things come up. It’s hard to get any meaningful amount of work done when you have your next social media update looming over your head every 30, 60 or 90 minutes. That’s why you should make pre-scheduled social media content your new best friend.
There are so many excellent tools available that you can use to easily schedule social posts in advance. So rather than spending five minutes, five times a day updating your Twitter account, why not spend just an hour (or less) a week scheduling an entire week’s content?
Here are three simple steps to scheduling a week of social media content in advance:
STEP 1: Create a content calendar
Your content calendar should include all the updates you’re planning to share on your social media channels during that week.
Here’s a cool interpretation of what a social media calendar might look like, identifying different types of status updates that could be scheduled on different days:
Google Docs and Trello are two really good tools that you can use to create your calendar and get organised. Use them to create documents or different lists with the posts that you’re going to publish that week. For each you can include the status update, the image you’re going to use and the link to that piece of content.
Here are a few resources where you can find good examples of social media calendars that you can use:
- Tools to build a social media content calendar
- The best content and social media calendar templates
- Social media content calendar template
STEP 2: Pick a day of the week for scheduling
Pick a day of the week to add updates to your social media queue. This is much more efficient than scheduling your posts at random times throughout the week. This allows you to hop in and out during the week to engage with your fans and followers and to share timely articles and new blog posts.
Creating a content calendar and scheduling posts in advance can save you lots of time. However, there are a few things you need to watch out for when scheduling your social media posts, such as:
- Automating everything
- Treating scheduled messages as “one size fits all”
- Not staying abreast of current events
- Not being around to engage
Read all about these common mistakes in our post on why and how to schedule your social media posts.
STEP 3: Choose the right tools to automate the process
There are lots of time-saving tools that you can use to schedule your content for social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and more. Here are some of the most popular ones:
Tweetdeck – This is one of the most popular social media tools for managing multiple Twitter accounts. You can use it to schedule as many tweets as you want, as well as to find great content to share on your social channels. Check out this tutorial on how to use Tweetdeck.
Buffer – Using a free account, Buffer allows you to connect four separate social media accounts including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. With the paid Business account you also have access to a social media calendar that allows you to see all your scheduled posts at a glance one week at a time. This article walks you through the steps to setting up Buffer and scheduling your social updates.
IFTTT – This web-based service stands for “If This Then That” and it allows you create connections (called “recipes”) between the various web apps you use often such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. After you sign up to IFTTT, you will be able to create “Recipes”. These recipes involve two web apps, one app to trigger, and the other app to perform an action.
The best part about this website is that it’s free to use and supports a huge collection of popular web apps that you can set to trigger and perform an action. Dropbox, Feedly, Facebook, Twitter, Craigslist, Foursquare, Google Calendar, Instagram, Google Drive, Gmail, Tumblr, and Bitly, just to name a few!
Confused? Here are a few examples of what you can do with it:
- Set your Instagram photos to upload to a Facebook album.
- Create a short URL with Bit.ly for every blog post you publish. Then create other IFTTT tasks to share the short links to your blog posts on all your social networks.
- Automatically tweet your Facebook status updates or publish your Google+ posts on Facebook
Check out this post to see what other cool things you can do with IFTTT.
While you need to share your business’s content on social media, it’s a good idea to mix it with other people’s content as well. Doing so will get their attention and make them more likely to return the favour.
However, instead of spending hours on Google or reading blog posts that appear on your social feed, there are tools you can use that can do the hard work for you.
If you use Tweetdeck, you can create different columns for specific terms and keywords. For example, if you’re a yoga instructor, run a search for “yoga” and create a column dedicated to this topic. This column will include a list of all the posts and tweets that fit in this category.
So instead of going to Twitter to search for content on this topic, all you need to do is go to your Tweetdeck account, see what new content has been shared and pick the most interesting posts to retweet.
If you use Hootsuite, there’s a feature called Suggestions that, once you tell it which keywords you want content on, will give you tons of content recommendations to share.
Hootsuite and Buffer both have a web browser plugin that allow you share any web page or blog post without having to copy and paste the URL into your dashboard. You can schedule it directly from this tool to save time.
Feedly is another great tool that you can use to aggregate the top content in your niche from industry blogs and other publications. Here is a video tutorial by Authority Hacker on curating content using Pocket and Feedly:
Buzzsumo is another popular tool for finding the most shared content in your niche. Simply enter your keyword or phrase and the tool will return the top performing content.
For more time-saving tips, check out these ten tools to find great content to share on social media.
Make sure you’re using the right social networks
Social media has become complex. There are so many social networks out there, and each has more features and the learning curve is steeper. So instead of wasting time signing up on ten social platforms, focus on one or two that are relevant to your business.
Focus on the ones where you customers spend the most time on. By only targeting and mastering a few social platforms, you use your time efficiently and you’ll also have a bigger impact on those social media channels because you’ll get to learn more about how to use them to create the biggest impact.
Don’t know which social media platforms your business should be on? We’ve got you covered with this guide that walks you through the most popular social networks and what they’re used for. Read it so you can then figure out which of them best match the needs of your business.
Automate monitoring of competitors’ social media efforts
Social media is a fantastic tool to spy on your competitors, to learn more about them, see which platforms they’re using to connect with their audience and what type of content they’re sharing online to build trust.
But rather than spending hours manually checking on the feeds of your competitors, you could simply automate the process by using the right tools.
For example, you can create a private list on Twitter that includes all your major competitors. This way you get to see every update that they post, giving you a better understanding of how they manage their Twitter account and how they interact with their audience.
Here’s how to do it:
Click on your profile icon at the top and then click “Lists”.
Next, click the “Create new list” button located on the right side.
Give your list a name and don’t forget to tick the “Private” circle. Now simply add your competitors in there.
You can do this with Facebook as well. Go to Insights in your Facebook account and scroll down to the Pages to Watch section.
Now just add the pages you want to keep an eye on.
Another tool that you can use to keep an eye on your competitors on social media is SocialMention. Instead of running daily searches, you can save time by setting up a RSS feed search or email alerts.
For more ways to research your competition with social media, make sure you read our post.
You can waste hours obsessing over nice-looking graphs that show you follower or fan growth. But does this metric really matter to your business? Think about it this way: you may have 10,000 followers but if only 1% interact with your page or if none buy, then what’s the point?
So, if you want to determine whether your social media efforts are paying off or not, pick a few metrics that directly impact your business. For example, look at the types of posts that get the clicks or engagement (likes, comments, shares), the highest reach or that send the most amount of visitors to your site. You should also look at how many of those visitors actually fill out a form or buy from you. Watch our Swift Six to learn which metrics to focus when measuring your social media success.
To get this information, you can start by using Facebook and Twitter’s analytics. Our Facebook and Twitter analytics guides will explain how to use these tools and what information you can access.
There are also other tools you can use to get in-depth insights into your social media. Here are just a few of them:
- Buffer – With Buffer‘s free plan, you get all the major engagement stats for every update you post on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. A very useful feature is the Top Tweet/Top Post badge that pops up when an update goes above and beyond the average performance.
- Google Analytics – This is an essential tool as you’ll get to see how many of your social media fans and followers actually visit your site, whether to read more of your content, to fill out a form to get in touch with you or to buy a product. Check out our beginner’s guide to Google Analytics to learn how to get started.
Managing all of your different social media accounts can take a lot of time but hopefully these tools and tips can take some of the sting out of the process. Give them a try and start saving time that’s better spent on your higher priority tasks.