Last week I asked you to complete my very short survey Getting to Know You! I’ve had a great response and decided today I would cover a topic many of you asked for in the survey, Social Media help.

It’s a huge topic, Social Media encompasses the entire Internet, not just networks such as Facebook and Twitter. So where do I start? Well I thought I would provide you with my top 5 social media tips, what works for me and how you can incorporate these into your working day.

Choose your Social Media Networks Carefully

You don’t need to be on every single social media network ever invented, you’ll give yourself a heart attack trying to keep up with them all. You need to think carefully what networks your customers/clients are likely to be using, and if you don’t know, then ask them. It’s very easy to email your current customers/clients and find out where they hang out, it will give you a good starting point at least.

You can’t give 100% to more than 2 or 3 networks on a daily basis, well I certainly can’t. So choose 2 or 3 to begin with and see how it works for you, if you’re not having much luck with one of them, swap to another and see if it works better for you. It’s all about testing the water!

If you’re interested, I currently only use 2 social media networks on a daily basis and give them 100%, Facebook and Twitter. I have accounts on other networks which I update from time to time, but it’s impossible to be in all these places at once.

Social Media Management Tools

If you follow my blog on a regular basis you will know that I have tried and tested many different management tools for social media. These tools help you manage your networks in one place, as I only use two networks on a daily basis I can get by using a free service. In fact I only use tools for my Twitter account, and even though I always seem to be testing different tools, I always come back to Pluggio and Buffer to manage my tweets. They do everything I need them to do, I can drip-feed tweets throughout the day, I can schedule tweets and I can keep track of other variables.

You don’t want to choose a complicated tool to manage your social media, I have come across a few which I didn’t even understand. Keep it simple, some of the other tools I have mentioned before are Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, SocialOomph (I still use this too occasionally) and Bottlenose, to name just a few.

Don’t Sell your Products & Services on Social Media

This sounds like a stupid thing to say, but maybe I said it wrong. What I wanted to convey is, don’t barrage your fans/followers with sales messages all the time. It might get you the odd sale, but I bet it will lose you sales in the long run. I hate it when I see someone constantly flogging their stuff on their Facebook page or tweets. A nice mix of updates should have a better effect. I don’t tend to sell my services on Facebook at all, occasionally if I have a new product or service I’ll mention it, but that’s it. On Twitter I have some sales tweets that go out maybe once or twice a day, but most of my content comes from my own blogs or articles I think my fans/followers will appreciate.

By all means update your audience when you have a great deal to offer them, but be careful not to overdo the sales side of things.

Subscribe to Other Blogs

I get most of the content I share from other blogs. I want you to share my posts, so I need to go out and share others. I add many blog feeds to my Google Reader account and then most evenings I will go through the new posts of the day and either add them to Buffer, add them to Pocket for later reading or tweet them out immediately or post them to Facebook.

Reading a good amount of blogs on a regular basis will also give you good ideas, what you could be doing on social media, and more often then not if you start sharing all this great content from someone else, people will be interested to see what you’re all about.

Schedule your Social Media Time

It’s very easy to get carried away online and end up surfing for hours and hours and not actually getting anything done. I still have days like this occasionally, it’s not productive and you feel as if you’ve not achieved anything. So my advice would be to schedule in the time you spend on social media, it doesn’t have to be a long time, and you can schedule it in a couple of times a day. Using the management tools I mentioned above makes things a lot easier. Having a queue of updates in Buffer and SocialOomph for me is a life saver. Even if I don’t manage to get on Facebook all day I know that the scheduled posts will, without me having to be there to press the send button.

You have to be present on social media, you can’t just send out a load of content and expect anything back. You still need to interact with people, network online. This is the work you need to schedule into your day.

As an example, this is how I schedule my day – first thing in the morning I check my Twitter account and respond to any RT’s, messages, mentions since I switched off the night before. It doesn’t take long, sometimes if someone is online I continue a conversation or two, but usually it’s a case of reply and move on to the next. I also like to post on my Facebook page in the mornings, I call it free posting (ie. not using a tool to schedule) – I do sometimes set-up one or two scheduled posts for later that morning (actually in Facebook rather than a tool), but I only ever do these a couple of hours in advance. Throughout the day I have  notifications for Facebook and Twitter on my iMac and iPhone, so if something needs an immediate response I can deal with it there and then. If not, then I leave it until later in the day. I usually spend some more time on social media at lunchtime, and then again just before I switch off my computer.

I use a time tracking application on my iMac, it basically tracks everything I do (I am writing this part before I have even looked at my social media usage today, I hope it’s not horrendous), this gives you an idea of how much time I spend:

Phew not too bad!

So as you can see, hopefully I am pretty present on my social media networks of choice, but on a typical day I will only spend about an hour. Sometimes it might be more, sometimes less, I guess it really depends how much time you have to put into it.

I wish I could have come up with some more tips for you, if you sign up to my mailing list (box on the right) you’ll receive my monthly Social Media Clinic emails where I can answer more specific questions. I don’t post these articles anywhere else, so they are exclusive to my mailing list. 

I hope you will go away and implement some of my suggestions, feel free to comment below on what works best for you.

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