One of the most common questions I get from SMB owners and managers is: How much time per day should my business be on social media? Note that I am talking about the business side and not the personal side, although there is (and should be) some crossover between each.
As a business with an online identity, you should have social media accounts representing your business brand. Social media is a great way to achieve awareness, introduce personality behind your logo, and engage with an audience. It can also serve as a focal point to indirectly draw people to your website. This brings us to the definition of social media marketing using social media as a platform to guide your audience to a specific action. As with any business tactic there must be strategy behind your efforts; in terms of what you are trying to accomplish and what steps should be taken to get you there.
Every business will be a bit different but ideally you should be using social media to talk to your ideal customers. Most customers access more than one social media channel, so your business should be represented on several at least for maximum reach. Regardless of your choice of channels, this is where you are challenged for time and resources:
Number of Posts Per Day
The number of posts per day varies somewhat based on the social media channel. Twitter, for instance, is a channel best suited to many posts throughout the day. Facebook and Google+, on the other hand, are better suited to a smaller number of posts per day, with top brands averaging one post per day. LinkedIn themselves suggest one post per weekday, but businesses can be effective with as little as several posts per week. The guideline for LinkedIn company pages is to post as many times as your content supports. This social media frequency guide from Buffer is an excellent resource.
Audience Engagement Time Per Day
This may be the most important time a business can spend on social media. When you post something of value you are looking for acknowledgement back from your audience; comments, questions, added value. You have started a conversation, basically. When someone picks up on the conversation you want to continue it. This is what develops relationships, which are the roots of all business. This engagement is absolutely vital in establishing relevance, trust, and authority in whatever your business is built upon.
Consuming and Curating Content
Most SMBs do not have a full time resource for content generation. Creating and hosting your own content is the ideal to strive for in online marketing efforts. The difference between social media marketing and content marketing is independence, although social media will always be an important part of supporting your own generated content. The way to start is to read a lot of other content on similar topics, digest the information and add value in the form of curation (commentary) and reposting. This is an easy way to follow the old 80/20 rule (80% curation, 20% original content), and not to appear too spammy on social media.
Connecting Profiles and Pages
Here is the crossover where you and your employees connect your personal social media profiles to your business social media pages. The benefit for the business is to identify the real people behind your brand and the benefit for the employees is the professional reputation they build by associating themselves with a business. They are going to dip in to their personal social media accounts throughout their workday, anyway. Why not encourage them to cross post from your business page and contribute to the engagement streams? Your employees can be vital particpants in any number of business conversations and represent you by their association to your business. Personal social media profiles will always get more engagement than business pages, so do not dismiss them as part of your overall company brand. Connect the dots!
Social media marketing should be a chunk of your marketing plan with a budget allocated and an expected ROI. It involves consistent attention to be effective, anything less will lead to failure. Crunch the numbers for the time and cost per day versus the ROI per measurable success (such the number of new subscribers/leads, and average revenue per subscriber) and budget accordingly. Here’s a tip; a pinch of automation and a sprinkle of marketing expertise can make a big difference.