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5 time-saving strategies that will help you get more from social media

social media

Do you want to get more from social media?

Are you working on a tight budget or limited resources?

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by what people say you need to do on social media?

You are not alone.

Lots of business people find it difficult to figure out what to do on social media and run a successful business at the same time. And I'd be lying if I said building an engaged social media presence isn't a challenge.

However, by applying the right strategies and with the help of some budget-friendly tools, you can develop your social media presence without investing a lot of time or money.

Let's get started.

1. Save time with a social media automation tool

If you're a small business or medium sized business working on a tight budget, you or your team may not have enough time or resources to work solely social media.

Instead, you can use a social media automation tool to plan your social media content and post it in advance. This way you can spend Friday afternoon, Monday morning or whenever suits writing your content for the week, and then go about your business.

The more popular budget friendly social media automation tools include: Buffer, HootSuite and Sprout Social.

Buffer is ideal for those who like to share and curate content on networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It includes a popular browser extension for sharing content on the go, and it's the easiest social media automation tool to use.

HootSuite is similar to Buffer, but it also provides a set of dashboards where you can see your social media posts on one screen. It does take a little more time to learn.

Both of these tools cost approximately USD10 per month.

Finally, Sprout Social is more expensive than Buffer or HootSuite, and is suitable for larger teams in mid-sized companies who need to collaborate on their activities on social media.

2. Before you sell, conduct free customer research

Social media isn't just a promotional tool for your products or services.

It's one of the most powerful customer research tools you have.

Take Twitter.

Using Twitter search, you can find real-time discussions about your brand, product or service. Even if nobody is discussing your brand, there's probably a conversation happening within your area of interest that you can contribute to (without being promotional) and learn from for free.

When the author and social media and guru Gary Vaynerchuk was starting out, he built an online following for his video blog Wine Library TV partly through Twitter. He used Twitter to find and answer peoples' questions about wine.

He made it his mission to be as helpful as possible, and he only mentioned that he sells wine and has a wine blog when it came up in conversation.

I attract a crowd, not because I'm an extrovert or I'm over the top or I'm oozing with charisma. It's because I care.

Vaynerchuk's success shows business people succeed on social media when spend more time offering value than they do selling or promoting their products and services.

"I attract a crowd, not because I'm an extrovert or I'm over the top or I'm oozing with charisma. It's because I care," says Vaynerchuk.

3. Become a master of one network

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, SlideShare, Instagram, Vine, Quora - many business people are overwhelmed by the volume of social media networks demanding their time and resources.

Here's a time-saving secret.

You don't need to be on all of these networks.

Instead, pick one or even two relevant social media networks and concentrate on building your presence and interacting with followers there. This way, you won't have to spend all day updating your various profiles, and you can use your resources and time more strategically.

LinkedIn is considered good for B2B and Facebook for B2C. Twitter is useful for real-time engagement with customers and Pinterest is ideal for those selling consumer products.

If you're having trouble deciding on a network, use the free tool Social Crawlytics. This analytics tool will help you identify influencers in your area of interest. With this tool you can see where your competitors are receiving the most comments and shares for their content. Then, you can use this information to select your preferred network.

Tip: If you're concerned about protecting your brand, register your account on other social media networks so you can use these (inactive) profiles at some future date.

4. Track the performance of your social media content

If you track the performance of your social media content, you can spend less time guessing what your followers like and more time creating content that they will share.

Analytics can help you.

The larger social media networks like Twitter and Facebook offer analytics depending on how many followers you have and if you spend money advertising with them.

Alternatively, Google analytics enables you to see which social media networks deliver the most traffic to your website.

Bit.ly is powerful and free analytics tool for anyone who shares content on social media. to track the performance of your social media content for free.

Essentially, Bit.ly shortens your URLs for social media and applies tracking for you.

Later on, when you append this shortened link with the plus symbol '+', you can see how many people clicked on your link and where they are based.

To see what I'm talking about, the Bit.ly link for this article is http://bit.ly/1BBiWru, but if you visit http://bit.ly/1BBiWru+ you can see how many people clicked on this link and where they came from.

5. Share content at the right times

There's little point in sharing content on social media if your followers are off-line or asleep.

If you're unsure when you're customers are active, try reposting content at various times during the week. Then you can use analytics to see when your customers were most engaged.

HubSpot put together a useful infographic that can help you figure out the best posting times.

If you'd rather test for yourself, start with Twitter. There, it's considered good practice to tweet links to the same piece of content three or four times throughout the week. In other words, you can test your content without worrying that you're spamming your followers.

I also particularly like the free tool Followerwonk.

If you use this tool, you can analyze any Twitter account (including competitors) and see when the followers of this account are online. Then, you can use this information to determine the ideal posting times for your content.

Finally, I can set these times in my social media automation tool so that our content is automatically shared when my followers are online.

And finally...

Even the experts had to build a social media account from zero followers. Yes it's hard work but, unless you're after hundreds of thousands of followers, you don't need to spend all day and a significant amount of money on building a presence that delivers a return for your business.

You can conduct free customer research, engage with customers and build awareness about your brand on social media if you more strategic about the tools you use and the types of content that you create and share.

What are your tips for getting more from social media? Please, let me know on @SageCRM or Google+.

If you found this blog post helpful, you may also like our free ebook: A practical guide to social CRM for small and medium sized companies.