- Posting something to the Facebook page once a day
- Sending a few tweets a day
- Asking Questions or providing Answers on LinkedIn once a day
- Replying and commenting when warranted
- Lather, rinse, and repeat every few hours
It can grow tiresome — especially if you want to have a life outside of your computer or digital device. It can also be difficult to justify the amount of time spent to yourself, your client, or your boss since it is hard, if not impossible, to state social-media return-on-investment (ROI) statistics in traditional business-terms. (Client: “How much revenue has my business generated directly and only from Facebook — and what is that compared to how much I am paying you to run the Facebook page?” You, most likely: “Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that.”)
I’ll leave social-media ROI for another post since it’s, well, complicated and controversial (as Michael Gray wrote in reference to the latter, “If you’re the kind of person who wants to have 50,000 twitter friends, be a power Digg user, make the front page of Techmeme, get mentioned on Techcrunch, avoid getting mentioned in Valleywag, and it isn’t filling your wallet, then you are a Web 2.0 Weenie Living on Bullshit Social Media Economics”).
But before you even begin to manage your social-media week’s tasks and duties, you first need to know if it is the optimal strategy (hence the debate over ROI). Take a look at the Trending Topics on Twitter right now. Whatever they are, I will bet that most likely they are mainly celebrities and news. Social media is the digital incarnation of the mass media, and what do the tabloid newspapers cover? Yup. That’s what John Smith in Nowhere, Iowa, cares about. (Not that I am cynical.) And that is what he will read online — whether in the New York Daily News or on Twitter. Just look at the Twitter Top 100.
If your business or client is selling movies, music, current events, or something of the sort, then social media will undoubtedly be a valuable medium. But if you are selling orthopedic mattresses or platform shoes? Not so much. No one is going to care enough to search for that product on Facebook. Social media — just like any marketing method — is merely one available tool of many. It is not a cure-all. Different products, sectors, and situations, need different tactics. (For the record, I would prioritize SEO, SEM, and PPC for the above two products over social media.)
Make Your Social-Media Week More Efficient
But if you have selected social media as an appropriate strategy, there are some general points to remember:
- Social-media sharing is important in running blogs, and many websites need to be a center for social media
- Social-media today is affecting search-engine rankings
- The increased competition in Facebook-Google search
- Social-media icons have affected headlines, and social-media guidelines and online marketing even changed the nature of advertising
First, you need to align your social-media marketing tactics with your overall marketing strategy and business goals. If you are marketing online, you likely have one (or more) of these three general business-strategies:
- Get advertising clicks (Google Adsense, and so on)
- Sell something on your website (music, movies, books, et cetera)
- Use the website to help to sell something offline (like homes or cars)
Each of these strategies is complicated and would require many posts to explain in-depth, but they generally have one thing in common: The goal is to maximize (relevant!) traffic to your website. (See a prior article on the importance of mean-SEM — it is conversions that matter, not traffic.) So, say that the business goal is to sell X online directly from the website. The overall marketing goal is to get more people to the site and convert them into making a sale. Now, the social media marketing-strategy in this example would be geared towards sending more traffic to the website. (Other SMM goals may include simply increasing brand awareness — which, of course, is intangible and whose ROI is also hard to determine — or getting purchases made specifically on a Facebook page through a shopping-cart applications.)
In such a specific example, I would use social-media software to manage your weekly tasks (and automate many of them). In general, these are a few social-media marketing best-practices:
- Have a random, archived blog-post be sent to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn once a day at the appropriate time (say, morning EST). You are using a quality-content strategy, right? This will encourage people to click to read the posts on your website. Make sure that every piece of new content is automatically posted as well.
- Set up feeds in software like Hootsuite Dashboard, Sendible, or Social Oomph to let you know when someone mentions a given term on Twitter or elsewhere (like, “orthopedic mattresses”). Then, of course, you can respond with a link to helpful information on your website.
- Research potential “followers” and “friends” — don’t “follow” someone just because he is “following” you. Follow only those whom you think will be the most helpful. It’s about image control — people who are followed by many but who follow few themselves are viewed subconsciously as the most “valuable.” It’s like the head cheerleader in high school — everyone wanted to date her, but she would only date the quarterback.
- Once the prior items are reasonably automated, then all you need to do is monitor and respond to feedback, comments, and mentions. And that frees a lot of time.
The takeaway is that once you can make your so-called “social-media week” as efficient as possible, then you can use the rest of the time to focus on other strategies — whether you think they will have greater ROI or not. No one wants to check his Twitter feed of 2,500 people every few hours — especially when the majority of them are probably spambots.
See related posts on social-media policy examples, whether fake personas should be included in your SEM preparation, what NOT to do (unless you want to get left-out of the social-media club), and how to know if certain social-media people will be bad clients.
Samuel J. Scott, a former journalist in Boston turned Internet marketer in Israel, is the founder and publisher of My SEO Software and Director of Digital Marketing and Communications and SEO Team Leader at The Cline Group. You can follow him at Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. His views here and elsewhere do not necessarily reflect those of his company and clients.