Working in social media and communications, I get questions. Lots of questions. Here are the top five things people ask me, for this week’s marketing tip.

Clock1. How can I avoid spending an excessive amount of time on social media?
Social media can indeed be a time suck, in two ways. First, you might find an interesting link on Facebook, click through to the publication, and then spot six more things you’d like to read, then four more, and so on. Before you know it, an hour has passed and you’re not entirely sure why you’re watching a cat video.

Secondly, you will be curating and sharing content. A few tricks can help save time.

First, streamline your perusal of social media by limiting the time you allow yourself to freely traverse the social media world. What works for me is a half hour first thing in the morning, followed by short bursts of social media goodness several more times later in the day, then perhaps in the evening during my “down” time. TweetDeck is my preferred tool for organizing my Twitter stream so I can see my various lists and hashtag searches at a glance.

As for publishing posts, I love Buffer, which allows me to queue up a bunch of items in the early morning and spool them out during the day. I always caution clients against over-automating, but Buffer can be a very handy tool.

2 .We hired someone to set us up with social media accounts. But now we don’t know what to do with them.
Unfortunately, some consultants will “set you up” on social media and then leave you hanging. Creating accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, GooglePlus, Pinterest and elsewhere is merely the first steps in your tactical approach. You need a strategy first.

Why are you using social media? What are you trying to accomplish? How will you measure success? Answer these three questions first, and then create an editorial calendar. Only then can you start publishing content. Read my post on “Why social media without content marketing makes no sense.

3. How will I know if my social media efforts are working?
What were you trying to accomplish? Did it happen? Sure, look at the numbers, but it’s not all about likes and retweets. Getting 100 retweets or 500 likes may boost your ego, but if it doesn’t spark any tangible results, what’s the point?

4. Is GooglePlus here to stay? Should I have a presence there?
Over the past few weeks many pundits have pronounced the death of GooglePlus, but I think they’re premature. If you judge GooglePlus as a Facebook competitor, it comes up short. But it was never designed to go head to head against Facebook. GooglePlus is a social layer, and it’s tightly integrated with Google Search. For now, I’d say it’s an important communications vehicle. I especially like its Hangouts and Communities. Check out my interview with B.L. Ochman to learn more.


5. Do I really need to blog?
Yes, you do. Websites without fresh content are not likely to attract eyeballs. Your blog can function as the hub for your online presence, with your accounts on other platforms as outposts. You own your blog, so it should be at the core of what you do. Publish on your own blog and then link to those posts on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, etc. Learn to love blogging! And if you need help getting started, hire someone to put you on the blogging path.