Remember the last time you sat for an hour, drinking a hot latte, in one of the few coveted armchairs at the local cafe, scanning your friends' updates on Facebook, liking pictures on Instagram, and debating with Twitter regulars about the upcoming election?

Yeah, me either...

Like you, I have work to do.

As business people we are constantly faced with an endless list of tasks ranging from urgent to if-I-have-time, and unfortunately social media marketing for our own business seems often to fall somewhere at the bottom of the list.

The truth is, engaging on social media is more than the picture painted above. While a few minutes of personal time is important, for a business person who's responsible for company social media activity, engaging a captive audience on any social media platform can make a big impact on the bottom line.

The question is, "How can I make time to squeeze this task in as a priority each week, when I can barely find a moment to order the latte?"

Here are some of the tricks we recommend:

  1. Determine which platforms are used most often by your target market, and focus on those initially. Facebook and Twitter are the obvious first choices. There are more than 1.49 billion users participating monthly on Facebook and 316 million on Twitter - chances are your audience can be found here.

So start here. Trying to use every single social platform is insane and will take up far too much of your precious time and energy. If you feel you have a large audience on a third platform, include it. For example, as an accountant you may want to make use of LinkedIn; as a food blogger, definitely get on Pinterest, and so on.

  1. I'm not reinventing the wheel with this one: pick a time and commit to it each week. The reason you continue to receive this advice is because it actually works. Schedule time for it in your calendar. Schedule a reminder that it must be done for the day before, if you have to. This is usually more difficult at the beginning, but you'll develop a routine. It would also be wise to schedule 5 minutes each day to simply check for notifications. If you are using your phone for this, check while you are standing in line for that latte... multitasking at its finest!
  2. Create a running document of links, articles and ideas that you think would benefit your audience, and refer to it as you post. You won't believe how much content you can come up with in just 20 minutes of focused searching. Once you get on a roll, you'll have more than enough to keep your feeds relevant and engaging. You'll soon learn what websites you find most useful and eventually knock your time searching down to 15 minutes, I promise. Be careful though, it is easy to be distracted... FOCUS!
  3. Learn how to use Hootsuite (or any other scheduling tool) and then actually use it. I have friends who often tell me that Hootsuite isn't for them as they are just "one little business." The truth is that Hootsuite can benefit any business, from the solopreneur to the large, international franchise. You can schedule your posts months in advance if necessary - affording you the ability to sit down, plan and follow-through all at once when you are not otherwise running your business. It's hard to post the lunch specials on 3 or more platforms when you are preparing said lunch special. Plan your weekly specials, create and schedule your posts, then welcome your hungry followers with a stress-free smile.
  4. Finally, share the responsibility. Not everyone can take over the world, latte in hand, and post about it on social media all at the same time. You may need minions (just kidding...). Allow your staff time to support your online efforts. Consider teaching select staff to use Hootsuite, and provide them with the content and time to do the scheduling. Ask for their input and any pictures and articles that they think could be useful. Offer incentives for their online involvement: liking, re-tweeting, sharing, etc.

When you feel like cancelling your scheduled social media time, remind yourself that involving your business in social media needs to be a priority. Your audience, customers and potential clients are already online, engaged in a conversation (perhaps with your competitors) that you need to be a part of.

Taking an hour or so each week will make a difference. Make the most of that hour...then reward yourself with that latte!

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