It’s a tricky question to answer, because it depends so much on the unique needs, resources, and goals of the organization.
The truth is, social media can be a full time job. You can spend all day on social media and use it to further the mission of your organization. It can help build your brand, grow your audience and connect with them.
But you can also spend less time and still be effective. While a lot of social media consists of interaction with followers, and responding to questions and comments in a timely manner is important, there is also a lot you can plan ahead of time in order to have a presence without actually being online all day.
First decide what social media platforms you are going to spend your time on and how you want to use them. Chances are, not every platform makes sense for you and you don’t have time to use them all at once anyway. It is better to choose a few platforms and use them successfully than try to overextend yourself and not do them well. Most common are Facebook and Twitter, and one of these is probably a good place to start. (A post on social media platforms and how to best use them is coming soon).
Make a calendar. Especially important in blogging, but also helpful for other social media, a calendar of what to post when can be one of the most helpful things that you do. Nothing is worse than realizing your social media is in desperate need of updates and not being able to think of what to post. Creating a plan can help determine when to run major promotions, or product launches, and when to cover certain topics so you can make sure to roll them out when it makes the most sense and posts don’t get too backed up or bunched up. Having a set calendar makes social media run smoothly.
Schedule posts. Using a tool like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite allow a user to schedule tweets. Facebook now offers brand pages a chance to schedule posts. This means that you can plan out certain content that you want to post at certain times of day or certain days of the week and get them all up there at one time. This way you have regularly updated content without having to be online all day long. You can still add in last minute posts whenever you want, without it messing up your previously scheduled posts. Ideally, once you create the calendar you can schedule a few posts immediately, because you know what is happening when.
Gather ideas constantly. You probably already follow other brands, industry insiders, and community members on social media (if you don’t, start now!). Pay attention when they post content or links that are pertinent to your organization or industry. If you don’t have time to read them or respond right at that time, create a bookmark folder or a desktop folder with the links to the articles or content that you can go back through later. That way, when the time comes to create content or update posts on your pages, you can go back and retweet, repost, or blog about one of these things without having to find it all over again or search for brand new info.
Customer service. If you choose to use your social media as a ‘customer service’ platform (and this does not have to be taken literally- this can mean you simply answer people’s questions or help them understand what you do, even if you don’t have a physical product and your audience isn’t a ‘consumer’) response is key. You can still use all of the above suggestions, but you need to physically be monitoring the channels at all times and be sure to provide prompt replies. This still does not mean you need to sit in front of the screen all day. Set up alerts to go to your phone or email when you have a post or message from someone and set aside five minutes every hour or two to log on and post replies. Quick response time is key, because if people do not think they will get a response soon they will not bother posting and you will lose that chance to engage with them. People send a tweet because it’s quick and easy and already something that is a part of their daily life. While you have them engaged, make sure that you offer them something more than they would get on the main website or by calling on the phone, even if this is just swift answers and a personal response.
Every organizations social media strategy is different, because every organization is different. It’s the ability to customize it that makes it such a useful tool. While social media is definitely something that should be a part of a companies marketing mix, it also has to be used effectively to make it worthwhile. These are just some of the many methods you can use to make it effective for you.
Feel free to check out how I use social media with my twitter account @pollinaPR!