There are many well-documented business benefits to online social networking, but there are also some drawbacks. Many CEOs consider sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to be time-suckers that are as addictive as they are effective. But you (and your staff) don’t have to devote hours and hours to updating and managing your social media presence. In Make Every Second Count, author Robert W. Bly presents a six-step plan to give your business the social media exposure it needs in just 15 minutes per day.
1. Remember why you’re there. It’s incredibly easy to get distracted by the constant barrage of status updates, requests, videos and photos. Remind yourself why you’re using the medium in the first place: is it to stay abreast of industry trends, to promote your company or to pursue sales? By keeping your goals in focus, you’ll be less likely to waste time on something unproductive.
2. Target your networks. You don’t have to say ‘yes’ every time you’re asked to join a group or befriend a Facebook member. If you want to participate in industry-specific discussion groups, for instance, then choose only those that you think will be most worthy of your time. Otherwise, your inbox will become flooded with updates and messages that aren’t really relevant to your business.
3. Act on your specific business goals. To make sure your social media ambitions don’t fall by the wayside, attach measurable, short-term goals to each of your objectives. For example, if you’re looking to position yourself as a thought leader in your field, plan to solicit one recommendation per week from a colleague on LinkedIn, or use Facebook to publicize upcoming speaking engagements.
4. Make a schedule. Most professionals approach social networking on an ad hoc basis, and end up wasting time by interrupting other tasks to do it. You can introduce structure by planning to update your status bar at the same time every day, or to answer all friend requests in a batch once a week—and by blocking off 15 minutes in your calendar to do the work.
5. Review whether it’s working. If your goal in using social media is to win more public speaking engagements and you haven’t been in front of a mic for months, you’re wasting your 15 minutes each day. It’s time to revisit your approach: join new groups, share different content or seek different friends.
6. Let technology do the legwork. If you discover you are hitting the mark with your key audiences, it’s time to consider automating your outreach. Sites like Ping.fm allow you to post on multiple platforms simultaneously, while sites like FriendFeed.com allow you to present all your friends’ updates in one interface.