The biggest enemy of using social media for small businesses? Time. Try these four efficiencies to make the most of your online interactions with fans and followers.
While you may not realize it, as a natural retailer (especially an independent one) you're better equipped to succeed at social media than a brand.
Why? Consumers see small businesses as more authentic and accessible than brands. Sorry, brands! This just means you have to do a little more work to personalize your organization.
Consider this: If you tweet to United Airlines about your botched layover you get crickets (true story). The sheer volume of tweets to their account simply cannot be answered. And even if it could, I don't think the airline would see the value in making tweet-answering a priority.
But if someone posts to your Facebook page asking if you carry mangoes? Unless you get 1,000 posts each day (and my guess is you don't) then there's no reason why you can't turn that inquiry into a satisfied customer.
But your number one enemy isn't how you respond to your customers—it's finding the time to do it. Here are four things you can do now to more efficiently spend your time on social media each day.
Spend one hour each day on social media—or two if you can, one in the morning and one at night. Prioritize how much time you'll spend on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other networks, so you don't waste your hour. Spend the most time on your most active network.
Make starting conversations part of that hour.
Do a search for your city on localtweeps.com to find customers on Twitter in your region. Then follow, retweet them or start a conversation. Even offer them a coupon! You'll see your social efforts pay off in droves when you begin to chat with your followers, rather than at them.
Schedule your social media posts in advance.
Using HootSuite or TweetDeck for free, you can save loads of time by scheduling all your posts for the day or even the week! Space tweets to one per hour, and post about two to three times per day on your Facebook page so you don't annoy your fans.
Create a list of content to post, and spend 10 minutes adding to it each day.
Set up a Google Alert, visit your favorite blogs and see what your fans are talking about. All of this is great fodder to share on your networks, and my compiling it each day you'll never find yourself without something to post.
It's helpful to set up a shared Google Doc so your social team members (or just you!) can access the content even if you're using your iPad or smartphone.
What helps you manage your time on social media? Share in the comments.