This is probably the number one question and complaint when it comes to social media: “I just don’t have time to fit it into my already jam-packed day. How can I manage my social media accounts efficiently when I’m so busy?” This question was asked during our recent social media marketing seminar featuring guest speaker Mark Schaefer, a well-known expert blogger and social media guru. (For a recap of this entertaining and inspiring presentation, read my colleague’s blog post for Mark’s social media marketing tips!)
Let’s compare social media networking to in-person networking. Have you ever attended a business networking luncheon, happy hour, or other evening meeting? If you have, then you already know that it is a HUGE time commitment! You have to get dressed up and drive yourself to and from wherever the event is being held, and you have to psyche yourself up for it, have your business cards ready, and make sure you’ve practiced introducing yourself and giving your 30 second commercial. You get to the networking event and you eat a few measly appetizers, meet some random people, small talk for a bit, exchange business cards and that’s a wrap. You’re tired, you’ve said the same things over and over all night, and what do you really have to show for it?
I’m not completely knocking business networking events; I’ve been to many over the years. I’m just saying that for all that time it takes to get ready and attend, you could have likely made a bigger impression in the social networking sphere, sharing thought leadership, or some interesting piece of content or valuable information with your connections, friends, circles, followers (or potential connections, etc.) on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.
My point is that social media is actually a lot less time-consuming than many of your other business activities. On social media you can share a new blog post or article you wrote, you can let people know about an amazing project you completed or a new product your company is offering. And while you’re doing this, you’re also elevating your overall online presence. What you share with your connections has the potential to quickly be shared among their connections, and so on, and can also be commented on, “liked,” and/or “retweeted” numerous times. Even better, you can do this from anywhere (a local Starbucks, a hotel room, or from the comfort of your home (even in your pajamas and bedroom slippers if you wish)!
The idea is to not just build this online/networking presence; it’s also to maintain it, and that’s much easier to do on social media. Here is my advice when it comes to getting started with your social media presence and networking and building relationships online:
- First, incorporate social media into your personal marketing/business plan and set goals to hold yourself accountable. This way, you’re more likely to stick with it.
- Identify, follow and connect with people and companies that are (or could be) valuable to you in some way. Think about your targets and who you want to reach. Then begin to develop relationships with them by sharing relevant, interesting content, as well as reading their content and posts, and commenting/engaging with them.
- If you’re worried about the time it takes to share your content on social media sites, there are a host of free tools you can use to schedule your posts. For example, Hootsuiteis a third-party application for Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn where users can schedule postings in advance and manage all social media from one centralized dashboard.
- Arm yourself with a collection of content and thought leadership by exploring Feedly, another free tool that can be used to identify content and ideas for tweets, Facebook posts, or blog posts. Feedly pulls articles from a variety of different online news sources, and you can customize what types of content and keywords you want Feedly to search for.
- Finally, and most importantly, set aside time in your schedule (perhaps on Monday morning or during a lunch break) to do your social media line-up for the week via Hootsuite. Check Hootsuite briefly once a day to see if you have messages or comments that require a response.
I hope you find these tips useful and will consider incorporating social media into your personal marketing strategy. If you really use it to engage with people who have the potential to influence your business in a positive way, then you’re using it correctly!
Questions or comments? If you’ve secured new business leads or other business opportunities through social media networking and relationship building, we’d love to hear your story. Leave us a note in the comment section below!