Social media is often touted as being a free tool that anyone can use to market their business. In terms of cost to buy, most programmes are free, but as any busy professional will tell you, your time is not free. Here are eight tips which help you maximise your time and productivity when using social media.1. Automate and share The less that you have to physically touch your content, the more efficient you can be. For example, you can use a WordPress plugin to automatically tweet out a new blog post on Twitter. Most of the forums have the opportunity for you to add a blog. Take blogs that you have already written and re-post them to the forum’s blog, making sure you tailor them to the forum’s audience. Various 3rd party Twitter applications allow you to schedule tweets in advance. Use these to schedule your “content” tweets in advance, optimised to when your followers are on Twitter. Blogs can always been written when you can spare the time – or get the bug to write. These can then be scheduled in advance. (The majority of my blogs are written at the weekend and then scheduled to run during the week.) A selective use of guest blogs can help to pad out your blog when you are strapped for time. Plus, unless you have ethical or commercial reasons for refusing, always say “yes” to anyone that would like to use one of your blog posts on their blog. 2. Use a virtual assistant (VA) You don’t need to do everything by yourself. Many of the back office functions of social media can be delegated to your virtual assistant. For example, your VA can take a blog post you have written, identify keywords, post it on your blogs, and put a link to your new blog post in the LinkedIn groups you are part of. If you want, you can also get your VA to tweet on your behalf, too. Your VA could also scour the forums to find relevant discussions for you to comment on. 3. Set aside times and time limits to go onto Twitter, LinkedIn, etc Twitter can be the most delightful waste of time. To get the most out of it, discipline yourself to go on at distinct points of the day – and give yourself a time limit. For example, I dip in and out of Twitter during the day. Then, in the evening, take the time to reply to everyone personally. 4. Limit the number of forums you contribute too Success in social media comes from being visible, and that means turning up and posting regularly. Most people tend to limit themselves to participating in a few forums. Find two or three social networks where your target market – and people well connected to your target market – hang out, and focus the time you spend on internet forums in these sites. 5. Content management plan A content management plan can help you with your scheduling, writing and research. You can them make sure that your articles are tailored and phased to all the blogs and audience you write for. 6. Use 3rd party applications Third party applications can help you save time with social media. For example, 3rdparty applications for Twitter such as Tweetdeck andHootsuite allow you to see the tweets from your followers that really matter. Typepad allows you to post your blog onto your LinkedIn profile, and box.file allows you to share files on your profile. 7. Get a daily digest Many internet forums will allow you to have a daily digest of activity on the site. Choose this option to get a daily (or weekly) digest sent direct to your inbox. You can then quickly scan the activity and see if there are any discussion threads that you would benefit from contributing to. Remember to tick the box that gets you informed of any more posts after yours – this way you can carry on contributing to the conversation, without having to regularly scan the site. 8. Use your signature Your e-mail signature and internet forum signature can be used to maximum effect. For example, use it to include keywords linked back to your website – or to highlight your Twitter or LinkedIn profile. What are your best efficiency tips for social media? Leave them below. Heather Townsend, Britain’s queen of networking, is the founder of The Efficiency Coach, a company that helps professionals achieve better business results for less effort. Follow her Joined Up Networking blog for more useful tips and tricks. She has just been commissioned to write the FT Guide to Business Networking.
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