Managing social media can be a daunting task, especially if you’re a small- or medium-sized business owner and don’t have anyone to help you.

It might seem too time-consuming to be worth it, but I’m here to tell you: it doesn’t have to be.

I’ve put together four of my tricks from years of experience as social media manager, so you can manage your company’s social media in five hours a week—or less.

1. Pick the right platforms.

Time per week: N/A

Picking the right social media platforms for your business to post on is a huge part of cutting back the hours it takes to have a successful social media presence. You may hear that you “need” to be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and whatever the next big social media platform is, but that simply isn’t true.

You only need to be on the social media platforms that your target audience uses.

The first step to determining which platforms your business needs to be on is to determine your target audience. Make sure to consider factors like age, gender, ethnicity, and interests.

Once you’ve determined your target audience, you can match that to who uses which social media platforms. One great resource for this is the Pew Research Center, where you can find reports on who uses what social media, based on age, gender, ethnicity, and more.

It’s best to choose 1-3 social media platforms, so you can focus on posting the best content and engaging with your audience, instead of just trying to get something on five platforms every day.

The best part is, once you’ve done this once, you only need to reevaluate which platforms to be on about once every six months to a year.

2. Create weekly content calendars.

Time per week: 1-2 hours

Content calendars may sound like a hassle to create, but doing so will actually save you time in the long run. Just pick one day a week to sit down, choose the content you want to post the next week, and write copy.

By creating content calendars once a week, you won’t have to scramble to find content to post each day.

There are a number of techniques you can use to create a content calendar. One option is to create a document and paste links to content in it with the date and copy for the post written above or beside the link. Another option is to paste the link and copy into a Google Calendar event.

Make sure you have unique copy for each platform you’re posting on, even if you link to the same content. Make sure to include at least one post per platform per day; you can post more than this, however it’s best not to compromise quality of content for quantity.

Creating content calendars can take between 1-2 hours a week depending on how many social media platforms you’re posting on and how easy it is to find relevant content that week.

3. Schedule posts in advance.

Time per week: 1 hour

Scheduling posts in advance is a great way to make sure your social media profiles stay active without having to worry about it every day.

Once you’ve created your weekly content calendar, it’s easy to copy and paste your copy and links, photos, or videos on each social media platform.

Facebook and Twitter have native scheduling tools, making it easy to schedule posts in advance. Unfortunately, Instagram currently lacks a scheduling tool. For those who want to easily schedule posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, Buffer is a great tool that only costs about $10/month. Right now, Pinterest does not have a scheduling tool, and the allure of Snapchat is that snaps are “in the moment.”

Scheduling posts normally doesn’t take too much time as long as you’ve created a content calendar in advance. It generally takes around an hour, if you’re scheduling a week’s worth of posts for three social media platforms.

4. Set times to respond to comments, messages, and reviews.

Time per week: 2 hours a week

It’s important to engage with your audience through social media. One of the best ways to do this is by responding to comments, messages, and reviews.

Thanking your audience for kind comments and addressing their concerns and bad experiences with your business through social media can help you get—and keep—customers.

However, responding to comments, messages, and reviews as soon as you receive them isn’t necessarily the best way to go about this. Of course, you want to respond in a timely manner in case one of your customers has a time-sensitive issue. You can respond quickly without disrupting your schedule by setting aside 5-10 minutes day to look over your notifications and respond to your audience. If you have a particularly engaged audience, you may want to do this for five minutes twice a day—once in the morning, and once at night.

By having times blocked on your calendar for this every day, or at the very least on weekdays, your customers will get the service they deserve without you constantly having to stop what you’re doing to reply to their comments, messages, or reviews.

Engaging with your audience can take up to 2 hours a week, if you’re on three social media platforms. It may take more or less, depending on how engaged your audience is.

Now that you know the tricks of the trade to manage your social media, the hard part is sticking to it. Block time on your schedule every week to create content calendars and schedule your posts. Make sure you have a set time to respond to your audience every day—and if you can’t do it at the scheduled time one day, make sure to do it at another time.

If managing your social media still seems too daunting or time-consuming, Inbound Marketing Agents can help. Contact us to learn more about our social media management solutions.