Despite what it seems to the casual observer, social media is not free. An effective social media strategy requires an investment of time and human resources to develop content, monitor engagement, and actually drive ROI.
If you’re just jumping in to social media, you don’t need to hire a full-time person—you can get started with as little as 10 hours per month if you want to do it on your own. Or, you can hire an Internet marketing agency to guide you through getting into social media and maintaining an effective strategy.
If you’re going about it alone, you do have to invest time (not accounted for in the 10 monthly hours) learning the ins and outs of social media. You have to familiarize yourself with what works for your organization and what doesn’t. Each network has its own nuances, so it’s important to take time to understand the networks your organization is on.
Getting started in social media is a big, albeit beneficial, step in your online marketing. Below is how I’ve seen successful social media implemented in about 10 hours per month.
Month 1: Planning
- Determine who you want to reach and what your goals are on social media
- Assess where your content will come from, and how much you’ll be able to generate
- Use that information to decide what social networks match your demographics, goals, and content, and choose 1-2 networks to start
- Establish metrics for measuring whether goals are met—work to connect these to revenue
- Begin to write content to find your “voice”
Months 2-3: Setup and Implementation
- Create your profiles on the networks you chose in month 1
- Optimize the profiles with links, contact information, descriptions, and images
- Share your profiles with your existing network—employees, customers, partners, etc.
- Choose 5-10 key phrases, including your organization’s name, to monitor (manually through the network or with a social media management platform such as Sprout Social, Hootsuite, or Raven Tools)
- Create an editorial calendar to manage content
- Post content according to each network’s best practices
- Analyze trends to determine which types of content work the best and at what times
- Watch for engagement and respond when appropriate
- Continue generating content
Month 4 and Beyond: Maintenance
- Monitor your key phrases daily or 3 times per week
- Work to build your following through virality, advertising, email, and other methods
- Post content according to your editorial calendar at optimal times
- Generate content—experiment with new formats
- Evaluate metrics and progress toward goals
- Identify opportunities to expand your social media
Now, I’m not saying 10 hours is the magic number for all beginner social media strategies. Larger organizations or those using social media for customer service will require more than 10 hours. Some smaller organizations with basic strategies may require less.
Save Time in Social Media
When you’re using social media, you want to optimize the time you spend. Use the following tips to get the most out your social media marketing time.
1. Find a social media management tool
– Whether it’s Hootsuite, Sprout Social, or Raven Tools, find a tool that helps you organize content, find discussions, and schedule posts.
2. Plan ahead
– Don’t scramble each day wondering what you’re going to post. Leave room for timely day-of posts, but plan most posts about a month in advance, if you can.
3. Go social in bulk
– Instead of bouncing around to work on social media 6 or 7 times per day (trust me, it can happen), work on social media in large chunks. Take a few hours to write a month’s worth of content, monitor for an hour in the morning, and check your analytics all at once.