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The Design Train blogs are a series of articles researched and written by Andrew Knapp for submission to various publications and sites. The articles cover a wide range of topics and can be adapted and edited for use in various styles of media application.

  • Writer's pictureAndrew Knapp

The Time Factor - Finding time for your social media marketing.

People often ask me how much time one should spend on social media marketing. The average business owner is so busy running their company that marketing tends to take second place, especially on social media platforms. Some may even have the perception that social media is a waste of time, but a recent Nielson report shows that 33% of consumers now prefer to interact with business via social media. In addition to this, 97% of marketers see social media marketing as crucial to business growth in all industry sectors. Therefore it has become essential to incorporate ‘social media time’ into our working day.

OK, so we realise that it is important, necessary and benefits our business, but even so, finding time is still the challenge.

I’d love to give you something enticing like 5 Easy Hacks to Find EXTRA Time! But unfortunately there is no such thing. You can make it as time consuming or as quick as you want, it all depends on your content plan.

Like most things in life, adhering to a plan is the best way to achieve goals. Finding the time to do your marketing is directly linked to how good your content plan is. I cover content in some depth in my blog 'What did you say:? - Why great content is crucial to your social media marketing' if you would like to know more.

My general advice is not to over-commit and to make it realistic to your average work schedule.

Having said that, if you already have a social media presence it is essential that you log in at least once a day to answer any questions, reply to comments and check the activity on your various pages. First thing in the morning is normally the best time. You could do it while having your morning coffee, or planning your work day.

The first question that needs to be taken into consideration is how many social platforms are you active on? Let’s look at an example of a business that is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They have done their homework to identify their buyer persona/s, they have drawn up a content schedule to plan what information they want to disseminate and know how many times a week they need to post to be effective.

Our ‘do it right’ company have checked their analytics and recognised that posting on Tuesdays and Thursdays gets the best reach and engagement. They know that Facebook is the best platform to drive people to their website (where the selling process actually happens), so the content needs to be well thought out, offer value to the viewer, and spotlight the company’s USPs (unique selling points). Their Facebook account is set to share their posts on to their Twitter account, so this kills two birds with one stone. They have identified that Twitter serves them best as a platform for handling customer queries and check in regularly. They follow up the Tweet of the Facebook post with a supporting tweet to their followers bringing their attention to it. They use Instagram (correctly) for sharing high quality images of their work, or industry related, or aspirational, that will appeal to their followers and resonate with their brand image. In essence, brand awareness is what Instagram is brilliant at.

Because this company has taken time to plan their content schedule and have all of the information on hand, they need only take 20 - 30 minutes twice a week to post their content, share it to the various groups they belong to and (where paid advertising is used) set up their advert.

This can be simplified even further with the use of automation tools. Apps like Hootsuite and Buffer allow you to plan and set up your social media posts across various platforms and schedule them to be published weeks in advance. But I reiterate that to use these tools effectively you need to have your content planned in advance.

For the business that doesn’t have a content plan in place this process can take far longer, and this is where failure often sets in. It is like a chef knowing he has to cook something but has no idea what ingredients there are in the fridge, or a pilot who is in the cockpit of the plane but has no idea of his flight plan or destination. They will have to decide on and write the information, find and resize a suitable image and select the correct and relevant hashtags before they can even start to post anything anywhere.

Now the question changes to “how do I find the time to draw up a content strategy?”

The biggest inspiration for people looking for content ideas is Google. Check out your industry pages, blog articles and interest groups for inspiration. Sharing informative content offers your audience value. Don’t plagiarise, and give the original author credit. For example: While checking new trends in artisanal cheese craft we came across this great blog about the fermentation process by Lindy Crowley. Remember, OUR BRAND offers a wide range of artisanal cheeses, hampers and platters delivered throughout the greater London area. See our site for details - (Links)

Bookmark and save sites, quotes, images, blog links and references as you come across them. Take an evening to go through all this info and start sorting the info into quality, value to your audience, interest, impact etc. From here you can start choosing what content you want to use and share. The next step takes a bit of creativity, turning them into posts. If you are not sure how I suggest going onto the platform you are designing the post for as see look at the style of posts are getting the highest engagement (comments. shares , retweets, likes). You’ll soon get a good idea of what is working and what isn’t.

I personally use this method when I am creating the content plan for one of my clients. In one evening I can normally put together 10 pieces of content that will be published over a 5 week period. By spending one evening a month doing this I constantly have 5 weeks of posts in reserve. No wracking my brain for what to post, when to post, and no wasting time.

If you still feel that you don’t have the time or the creativity you could consider contracting someone to handle your social media accounts. This need not be a costly exercise and once you decide on the scope of what you would like done, can call for quotes. You will have to let the contractor know about the services or products they must focus the content on, and they will then do the legwork finding additional support content as well as composing and posting well written posts for you. All you need to do is supply your company artwork, specific photos and give a bit of direction every now and again. They will give you a monthly breakdown of analytics of how your posts performed and you’ll soon be able to see if the marketing is working.

The other benefit of contracting someone is that you are not limited geographically. Freelancers tend to work from home because they can! I am situated in a small town in the Free State province of South Africa, but my main client is 13,500km away in London. Google freelance social media marketers and have a look at the wealth of talent out there. Even easier, visit my website for details of the services I can offer small businesses.

Whether you choose to do it yourself, or contract someone to do it for you, there is still a time element to factor into your schedule, but this needn’t be a problem. It just needs a plan.

Please take time to leave a like or a comment if you have any ideas of topics you would like me to cover in this series of posts.

The Design Train offers Digital, Social and Traditional marketing and design services to the small business owner - wherever they are! Visit The Design Train website to find out how we can keep your marketing on track!

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