social media marketing time-saving techniquesMost marketers view social media as a must-have strategy, because it produces results. A disadvantage is that it can quickly become an enormous time sink.

Most marketers (64%) spend six hours or more on social media, but many spend much more. About 41% dedicate 11 hours or more a week and almost 19% dedicate over 20 hours a week, according to the Social Media Marketing Industry Report from Social Media Examiner.

More experienced marketers tend to spend more time on social media. Among marketers with fewer than 12 months of social media marketing experience, 49% spend five hours or less per week. Of those with two or more years of experience, 68% spend six hours or more per week on social media activities. Younger people also tend to spend more time marketing on social media.

Most everyone who markets on social media would like to accomplish more in less time. These are some time-saving tips for social media.

Automation software. Tools such as Buffer and Hootsuite can schedule posts in the future. You can automate half to two-thirds of your social media updates, says Pam Neely at Act-On. Automation software tools are often free for baseline features but carry fees for more advanced features. Some marketers recommend against automatically sending a welcome direct message, or DM, to new Twitter followers. Many people feel those messages are “a turn-off.” Zapier and IFTTT, she adds, enable you to post WordPress blogs automatically to social media accounts.

Create a strategy and plan. A plan establishes who you’re trying to reach, what you want to accomplish, and what set of social tactics best fit your goals. The plan serves as a guide for marketing efforts and helps avoid ineffective, time-wasting tactics, says Brad Smith, founder of Codeless Interactive.

Set a timer. Setting time limits can prevent marketers from spending too much time on a social network. Productivity begins dropping after 30 minutes on a network, contends social media consultant Edie Melson. Smith says there’s rarely a reason to spend more than 20 minutes on a network at one time. Deadlines can help you be more active and purposeful. You can use an alarm or try time-tracking tools like Toggle or RescueTime.

Curate. Post content produced by others. Sharing content from others make your accounts more interesting and saves time while delivering additional value to your audience. Although the ideal mix varies, some experts say your own content should not represent over 20% of your posts on social networks.

Use a Social Media Monitoring & Measurement Service. Searching manually for multiple keywords across multiple social networks to identify mentions about your organization can consume substantial time. Automated social media monitoring and measurement services are more thorough than manual monitoring by staff and produce detailed measurement data on viewership, engagement, lead generation, and much more.

Examine data. Analyzing data is crucial for prioritizing networks and type of content. However, constantly checking the numbers and running reports can devour time. Resist the urge to check your statistics every ten minutes, Neely advises. Set regular times to perform analysis of social media marketing results. Weekly and monthly reports provide the best perspective.

Post less frequently. Consider posting less frequently. Posting not more than you need to could create considerable time savings – though “need to” is difficult to define. It’s possible that you could gain the marketing benefits and outcomes after reducing posting volume by 20% or even 50%. If you start losing audience or engagement, you’re probably not posting frequently enough or material that is interesting enough in meeting your audience’s needs. Checking social media data regularly will tip you off to any audience losses you may incur.

Drop networks. Dropping platforms that are not producing results can help focus your efforts, although such a decision requires careful consideration and discussion with team members. The best strategy for a social media marketer is to focus on two or three networks. Don’t feel obligated to dedicate equal time each, Melson says. Marketers usually have a favorite network where they are more productive and where their audience demographics produce better results.

Republish content. Reposting 5% to 10% of your content will not annoy your followers. Most probably did not see the initial post; few will see it twice even if you repost it multiple times. Still, repost only your best content, and repost it at different times of the day.

Bottom Line: Marketing tasks on social media can quickly drain away valuable time if you’re not careful. These tips will help you use your time more effectively. An important guiding principal is to strive to “work smarter,” as opposed to pumping out voluminous posts on a range of networks.

This article was originally published on the CyberAlert blog.