Time management in social media has always been a dilemma, even as companies have matured in their social efforts. Professionals still struggle with being able to tackle it all on a daily basis.
The struggles of practitioners at organizations of different sizes vary, too. Large companies with dedicated social teams are often dealing with increased social conversation volume, many times driven by customer service inquires in social media. Altimeter’s Jeremiah Owyang reported late last year that the average size of the social team at a large company with more than 1,000 employees was 11.
For companies with an active social media presence but that have not built up a staff solely responsible for social media, keeping up is especially tough. Many are juggling other marketing duties alongside managing social media and often times, social get bumped down on the priority list. The good news is the impact of social media has been realized, and the days of the intern doing social media are over. Instead, many people are in a state of limbo – their company has recognized the importance of social media, but haven’t reached the point of hiring enough dedicated staff.
If you’re one of the brave souls who are committed to connecting with customers via social and feel as though you might be drowning, there are things you can do.
1. Prioritize based on objectives.
Your company has probably realized that being active on every social network out there might not make sense. Your customers might not be there, or you know that a social presence wouldn’t be able to get the attention it deserves. Still, distractions and/or symptoms of shiny object syndrome persist. They take the form of small tasks that eat up valuable time. Having a master list of your overarching objectives and goals can help guide you. Quickly asking yourself if what you’re doing at this moment will help your company meet its goals in social media can make a huge difference and will ultimately help make sure that every minute you’re spending on social inches you toward meeting those goals.
2. Recognize patterns and use them to your advantage.
We all know that optimization of social media output is beneficial. Reshaping content and publishing strategies based on the data you have can help make your efforts resonate more. But using data does not only make your content better, it can also make your life easier. Knowing what times of the day your customers tend to be active in social media or what events tend to get them talking more can help you plan to be fully engaged. Knowing in advance that when you run a certain promotion or post a certain type of message that people will have a slew of questions means you won’t be blindsided by activity. You’ll be able to carve out time and recruit some help from your colleagues. It will help your company reap the benefits of timely customer response without making you (too) crazy.
3. Know thyself.
How do YOU work best? It’s not an easy question sometimes. Knowing your own patterns can help you create pockets throughout the day to manage the ever-present social stream without neglecting your other responsibilities.
4. Assess the tools you use. Are they helping or hindering?
Social media tools can be your team’s best friend – if they are the right ones for you. Take a look at what you’re using. Are you logging into 6 different tools a day? Do they offer team task assignments and workflow features that could streamline your workload among colleagues and/or departments? In terms of creative social design, are you building everything from scratch? Are your tools able to help you schedule and automate some tasks in advance and free up time for one-on-one engagement? Social media management tools like Shoutlet are designed with efficiency in mind and can make the most of your time, even if you haven’t been able to hire additional social media staff.
5. Think social to boost social.
Get into the habit of integrating social media into each of the marketing initiatives you’re already working on. Don’t separate social from other efforts; think about ways to add social to customer experience can help boost social activity in your audience.
6. Make time to measure.
When it’s all you can do to keep up with publishing content and responding to customers, consistent tracking can easily become a low priority. Not only is it important for understand what’s resonating (see #2), but nothing can make the case for hiring additional social media staff like impressive data, especially when that data shows how it’s impacting business objectives (see #1).
Social media moves fast, and even faster for those who aren’t dedicated to it full time. Small changes can make a huge difference and help your company move closer to adding social staff and resources.
image via flickr courtesy of courtneyrian.com