5 Tips to Manage Your Social Media Streams

While at the Search Marketing Workshop the other day, I was asked by an attendee “How do you effectively manage your social media outlets?” The individual lamented over feeling overwhelmed, not knowing how to make best use of their time and energies. Managing Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and their blog – on top of managing their overflowing e-mail in-box, employees and day-to-day business functions. Many businesses out there are challenged by this juggling act! So here are some quick tips to align your social media strategies with your business goals to help you deliver your message to customers through social networks.

#1 Give The Gift of Time
Yes, time is money. However it is money well spent when you consider the potential return on this particular investment. Take a few minutes each day to check your social media platforms, post updates, respond and to any actions on the sites. This also helps to keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening within your business and your industry.

#2 Be Consistent and Frequent
With social media, successfully converting followers into customers requires consistency and frequency in messaging. The philosophy “If you build it, they will come” does not work.

Social media users who interact with your brand frequently are more likely to be turned into brand evangelists. Decide on your general frequency of posting – Once a day? Once a week? Somewhere in between? Developing this “delivery calendar” helps to avoid rushing to find inspiration and allows you to get into the social media mindset.

#3 Season Each Social Media Platform Uniquely
Even the best chef’s know that seasoning is key I creating a dish. So while linking your social networks may help an audience find you, messaging on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter should deliver a slightly different flavor. So why change the messages?

For one thing, consider that each has a limit to what can be said: Facebook status updates have 420 characters, Twitter allows 140 characters per tweet, and blog posts are typically have 300-1000 words. Crafting these messages differently allows you to utilize relevant keywords that might help you get found easier, and certainly get people talking about your business – which is the ultimate goal of social media in the first place! You might consider that LinkedIn might include information specifically business news, Twitter might offer up specials or tight calls-to-action, Facebook might direct your customers to your blog posts, industry information, trends and statistics, and your blog might have a more personalized message.  There is no magic recipe when creating the messages, just that each platform should be a bit unique!

#4 Embrace your Inner Picard
… And “Engage!” This is the part of your social media strategy that is the most time consuming. What messaging will inspire your audience to read, react and respond? Not thoroughly planning and creating this engagement message may mean that no one will listen.

According to a recent ExactTarget social marketing study, 38% of Fans will UNLIKE you because your posts are boring or repetitive while 24% of Fans will UNLIKE you because your posts are too self-promotional. Therefore consider that your content should cover a wide range of topics and interests to your audience; hot topics or trends, industry news, links to thought-provoking studies or articles, or your thoughts on something you have seen, read or viewed. Your content doesn’t have to always be information created by you; however it should be relevant to your audience interests.

#5 When All Else Fails
You have social media outlets. You need to be there. You just don’t have the time to effectively manage your accounts. This is the moment when you realize that you need some help. There are many great tools available to help manage social media sites. Sites like NutshellMail, HootSuite, and CoTweet allow you to schedule your Tweets or Facebook posts, aggregate and track your social media updates into a single location – thus organizing your platforms into a single location. Another option is to hire a third-party as your social media partner who works with you to create, manage and post thoughtful, meaningful content on behalf of your business.

The 5-10 hours a week spent preparing and implementing your company’s social media platforms can have a great impact. Using these tips will help manage your day to generate leads that move users into taking action which leads to engagement and hopefully mutually beneficial end result. So remember to breathe deeply, break your day (or week) into smaller manageable tasks and take control of your social media – It’s much better than letting it take control of you!

Is Your Business Ready for a Google+ Page?

When Google+ Pages for businesses was launched last week, I began to reason through and consider if it was a good or bad thing. After all it has the equal potential to spin-out into the next big thing in social media, or the potential to tank into the depths of past failed attempts – think Google Buzz.

As a Google+ “lite” user (that would be the occasional user) I have access to the pages, and have visited quite a few newly launched Google+ business pages. They look really great. Yet I’m still left with a feeling of dread – Great, it’s one more page I have to set-up and maintain. Lingering questions plague my thoughts: Is it really all that? Do I really need to be there? And What if I am not an early adopter for a Google+ page? I would guess many businesses are thinking some of the same things.

I know though, that when I am sitting face-to-face with a client and they asked me, “Do I really need to set up a Google+ Page for my business?” – I would say this: The best way to answer this is to take a step back and truly question your marketing strategy and overall goals. Asking yourself the right questions will help you to better understand if you should pass for now and wait, put your toe in the water with Google+ Pages, or dive in deep.

To better illustrate things, you might consider asking a few simple questions.

Is your business ready to implement a Google+ Page? Ask a couple of key questions to find out.

There are many opinions floating around the internet right now about Google+ Pages, and even individuals claiming to be “experts” with the new platform, ultimately though, having clear business goals that necessitate adding a new social media site to your existing marketing toolbox, and the time and resources to maintain an additional social media platform will determine your need to set up a Google+ business page. After all, doing one thing right (and taking best advantage of current trends) instead of trying a little bit of everything and doing it poorly is the better answer.