March 24, 2014
As an inbound marketing agency, we manage social media accounts every day for clients. So we understand that managing your company's social media marketing can be overwhelming if you’re a busy marketing manager, communications director, or business owner.
You only have so many hours in your day. Cramming in more time on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, ugh… you could spend all day doing this. (We do. But we lowercase “L” like it.)
To avoid overdosing on Twitter, take a step back and put a strategy in place. That will help you work your social media marketing efforts consistently each day. This will also help you figure out how much time, but also which times to spend on social media and where to spend your time. Those things are more important than how much time you should spend on social media.
So, you’ve read three paragraphs and you still don’t know how much time to spend on social media. Hate to break it to you, but there is no one-size-fits-all answer. You can skip to the end and see an example of a social media schedule or you can learn how to create a social media strategy. Up to you, amigo.
Times vary across businesses. According to Social Media Examiner’s 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 36% of marketers spend more than 11 hours per week on social media and 62% spend more than 6 hours per week on social media. If you’re a small business owner, consider that a 2013 social media marketing survey on how much time businesses spend on social media from email service provider Vertical Response, indicated 25% of small business owners spend at least 6 - 10 hours per week on social media.
Your use of social media to market your business should start by defining three basic things. Going through these steps will help you determine how much time to spend on social media. There are lots of details within these buckets, but these are the big things to figure out:
1. Your marketing goals
2. Your audience
3. The resources you have to devote to a program
Step 1. Define Your Online Marketing GoalsTake a page from HubSpot, masters of the inbound marketing universe, and set your version of what they call inbound marketing SMART goals. That memorable acronym means your goals should be:
SpecificA number you can define such as the amount of new followers you want.
MeasurablePick a metric and take benchmarks before you start.
AttainableA goal that’s challenging but not impossible. Example goals might be increasing followers or Fans by a specific amount, or driving a certain amount of referral traffic to your site.
RealisticBe honest with yourself. An unrealistic goal makes it easier to quit.
Time-boundA made-up word that ties the whole acronym together! It means you need a deadline.
An example of a SMART goal for your social media marketing might be driving 25 new website visitors in a month from social media. This is a realistic goal that is measurable and attainable. Once you get a month under your belt, you can project toward a larger goal with graduated increases in monthly targets.
Step 2. Define Your Audience (Buyer Personas)This helps you find the best social media channels to use to reach your people. It also tells you which social media accounts you can ignore. Take some time to define your individual buyer personas. You may have one. You may have five. This post by Heidi Cohen is a nice primer on social media buyer personas. Or check out HubSpot’s approach to buyer personas.
Taking time to document your buyer personas will give you a good idea of which social media channels your audience is using and what kind of content you should be sharing with them. If you know what challenges your audience has, you know what information they will be interested in.
Also, use your existing social media data from LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter (or use tools such as moz analytics’ followerwonk, tweriod, or sproutsocial) to see when your audience is most active on your current social media channels. If you can’t get this data, here is a guide on the best times to tweet and post to Facebook for click-throughs.
An example of basic buyer persona information might be that your ideal audience is a 35 - 45 year-old professional who needs to answer questions about a, b, and c (relative to your industry) and is most often on Facebook and Twitter 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Step 3. ResourcesTo get a handle on your resources, calculate how many hours you have each week across your department (even if the department is just your 45 hours). Then take stock of how much time your entire team currently spends on social media. Track your time in a spreadsheet or with free time-tracking software like Toggl. Do this for two weeks and you’ll see how much time is really being spent on social media. It wouldn’t be surprising to find that you spend about 25% of your time on social media.
An example of what your current time spent on social media might be is 10 hours per week.
Now, you may have a clearer picture of what your social media strategy needs to do. It might look something like this:
“Drive 25 new website visits from social media by the end of the month. These visits should be from prospects who are 35 - 45 year-old professionals, interested in answering questions about a., b., and c and who are most often online 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. - 5 p.m.”
This information (and other more in-depth buyer persona info) likely tells you that your audience is probably using Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. If you believe you have a limited number of hours to spend on social, these are the places you should focus for your initial social strategy because your buyer persona information tells you so. Yes, this is a very basic approach, but this post is about you reaching your marketing goal and knowing how much time to spend on social. If you were trying to reach 18 year-olds, you might start with Instagram, SnapChat and Twitter.
If you’re reading this, you probably already have valuable content on your blog to attract website visitors and searches. If not, you’ll need to create some. If you have a blog, publish posts that answer questions a., b., and c. If you don’t have a blog, add pages on your site that answer those questions. Ideally, you’ll be creating new content each month to address these challenges in new ways.
This may seem like a lot of work without even talking about using social media. But that’s the point. By taking these steps, you’ll put a clear strategy in place and you won’t be wasting time just posting content at random times that you think your audience might find interesting.
OK, Great. But How Much Time Should I Spend on Social Media?Well, this is where we kind of trick you. Sorry! But it’s for your own good. Assuming your social media time is spent actually using accounts as opposed to creating blog content, it’s smart to break your time into four buckets. You’ve already determined that your organization spends about 10 hours per week on social media, so that is probably a realistic figure. If not, you’ll quickly discover where to adjust.
Working with our 10-hour example, we’ll show you how to use your time as productively as possible by allocating time to each of the buckets below.
1. Scheduling and sharing your organization’s original content.
2. Monitoring social media for mentions of your brand or to gain insight into your industry and audience.
3. Communicating with your current connections by answering questions, asking questions and simply talking with people.
4. Growing your reach.
According to our example goal of driving traffic to your website, each of these social media uses is going to be valuable but we tend to think that being a live person on social media and communicating is more important than just broadcasting content.
Social Media ScheduleBased on your basic social media strategy, your social media schedule might look something like this.
8:30 - 9 a.m.Schedule and share your organization’s original content, with emphasis on the times when your buyer personas are online. (2.5 hours per week)
Noon - 12:15 p.m. and 4 - 4:15 p.m.Communicate and post to LinkedIn (2.5 hours per week)
M, W, F, 3 - 3:30 p.m. and T, Th 9 - 9:15 p.m.Monitor mentions and industry (2 hours per week)
3:30 - 4 p.m.Grow your reach (2.5 hours)
F, 4 - 4:30 p.m.Check your benchmarks and see what worked and what didn’t. (30 minutes)
You'll see what works for you, but this should give you a good idea of how to start a basic social media strategy and begin answering the question of how much time you should spend on social media.
By: Brian DeKoning