Social media

It's Thursday night. I crawl into bed, ready to race off to dreamland and I thought; let me just check my phone for a second. Three hours...and several cat videos later...it's not 2am and my rabbit trail of online activity has led me to a blog about cats with their heads poked through pieces of bread (www.breadedcats.com).

I'm going to hope that I'm not alone in this struggle. Something about social media just makes it so easy to fall into a black hole of content. As frustrating as that can be in our personal lives, it can be very costly when we mismanage social media in our professional environment.

Finding that balance of "just right" when it comes to social media engagement is a huge concern. On one side it is so easy to sing up for a business Facebook page with the best of intentions only to come back a year later to see a handful of posts and a half completed profile. On the other side, social media can feel custom-tailored to take up countless hours in your week returning little value if not used intentionally.

What I know is that social media cannot be ignored. Accord to Ad Week:

That is a lot of people. And let's talk money. According to Ever Merchant, social media drives sales:

That is every 30 seconds, and the numbers go up every year. These are not statistics that we, as business owners, can afford to ignore. Even better, social media gives you a self-selected subset of potential customers who are willing to tell you where they live and what they are interested in. The social media sites people sign up for, what they follow, their careers and interests are all right there. We can nearly perfectly target users who want what we have to offer.

What are you going to do about it?

1. What do you want to achieve?

Figure out what your goal is for using social media. Are you using social media to directly sell a product or service, create brand awareness and share your story or give current customers a place to build a deeper relationship with you? Identify your goal and base your strategy around achieving that.

2. Where are your customers?

Determine which platforms your customers use. According to Brandwatch, only 20 Fortune 500 companies interact with their customers on Facebook, but 83% have a presence on Twitter. For those brands, Twitter is where it's at. How old is your typical customer? What is your customer interested in? How does your customer consume media? All of these questions will help you identify which social media platforms are your best bet.

3. Selectively target a narrow number of platforms

Pick one, maybe two. If you are a small to mid-size business, chances are you don't have an internet marketing staff ready to dedicate their full time to managing social media. Given a limited resource base, it is going to be more effective for you to selectively target and excel in one or two social media networks than to do a bad job on several.

4. Set a schedule

Set a schedule and stick to it. We've already talked about how time consuming social media can be. You can effectively do social media in one hour per month, one hour per week and fifteen minutes per day. That adds up to 12.5 hours per month.

Use your monthly time to plan out a calendar for the month. What do you want to say? How do your posts coordinate? What kind of offers do you want to promote this month?

Use your weekly time to schedule your posts for the week. Most social media platforms offer a scheduling tool and there are several third party applications available if you want to manage several social platforms from a single website.

Finally, use your daily time to interact with your followers and potential customers. Depending on your social media platform of choice, you may be able to allocate your time to five minutes in the morning, at noon and at the end of the day; or you may need to spread your time out more. 78% of people who complain to a brand on Twitter expect a response within an hour. Tailor your daily time to your platform, but always remember that you are in control.

5. Post relevant content

Create and post content relevant to supporting your goal. Don't post on social media just for the sake of posting. Have something to say and say it. The more concise you can be the better. As Shakespeare wrote, "brevity is the soul of wit."

6. Measure and react

Social media is a mix of art and science. You may hit a home run right off the bat, or you may swing and miss. Take time to review what is working and what isn't working. The time of day you post, the content of your posts, your post format and your post frequency will all play a role in the success of your social media campaign. Be aggressive in adjusting how you are doing social media if you are failing to achieve your goal. Through effort comes success.

We've covered a lot of ground today. Social media is a huge topic and while it is simple in nature it is extremely nuanced in application. FusionForge is here to help. We offer a wide array of services from helping you determine which platform is the best fit for your brand, creating a custom-tailored social media plan for you to execute or providing alternatives to take the burden of managing social media completely off your plate.

I love helping people authentically share their story. Social media puts you right in the living rooms and pockets of people who want to form a dialogue with you. If you'd like to discuss any of these topics further, please complete the Contact Us form on our web site.