Social media marketing is a demanding job that requires patience, diligence, and consistency. It also takes place on many fronts, with multiple different platforms, multiple goals, and multiple potential uses. Finding a decent pattern of task management that allows you to accomplish all your goals without driving you crazy or burning you out can be challenging.
However, when you break social media marketing down to its core fundamentals, budgeting your time isn’t complicated. The key is to properly identify your goals, recognize what you truly need in a campaign, and prioritize your tasks.
Your first course of action is to identify your goals. You may think to yourself something general like “get more likes” or “drive more traffic,” but you really need to get more specific here. Think about something like “use advertising to double social-based traffic by the end of the year” or “earn 20 more conversions per month from social media users.” Again, the more specific you are the better, as this will allow you to make strategic decisions related to your time management and prioritization later down the road.
You’ll also want to set goals related to how much time you spend on social media, or how you outsource the work. For example, you may set a goal to not spend more than 20 hours a week on social media marketing, or dedicated an independent contractor budget of $200 a week.
Once you’ve properly identified your goals and your target audience, you’ll want to properly segregate the social platforms you plan on using. When you first start out, it’s a good idea to get involved on as many platforms as possible, but after a week or two, you should have a pretty good idea about whether your target demographics are actually using the platform in question.
Take inventory of all the social platforms you currently use and start dividing them into three categories. One should comprise any platforms where your customers aren’t engaging. One should comprise where some of your customers are engaging. The final one should comprise where many of your customers are engaging. Eighty percent of your total effort should be dedicated to your “many customers” group, while the remaining twenty should be dedicated to your “some customers” group. Discard any left over.
Many people don’t realize how much of a campaign can be automated using online tools and systematic production schedules. For example, you can use a post scheduler to plot out a stream of posts months in advance—it takes some time up front, but spares you the headache of making constant iterative updates. You can also set up your blog to automatically push new updates to your social media channels.
In addition, you can delegate your simplest tasks to an intern, a freelancer, or some other form of cheap labor. This can free up your time and budget so you can spend them on the more demanding, intensive tasks of social media.
Following these lines, make a list of all the various tasks you’ll need to complete in order to accomplish your goals. It may be useful to plot these tasks on a horizontal axis associated with frequency; for example, you could list “multiple times daily” tasks, “daily” tasks, “weekly” tasks, and “monthly” tasks. Then, organize them in a vertical axis in terms of how much effort or complexity they require. For example, responding to user comments may require very little effort while searching for high-potential leads may take substantially greater effort.
Once you visualize the effort needed for these tasks, you can eliminate any tasks that require more effort than they’re worth, and you can delegate any simple tasks that you need not bother with personally.
Finally, you can dedicate specific hours to specific tasks or groups of tasks. For example, you can tally up all the “daily” and “multiple times daily” tasks and come up with a rough figure for how much time they’ll take you—let’s say an hour a day. Working five days a week will mean five hours of weekly work, which subtracted from your twenty hour budget will leave you with fifteen hours to spend. Repeat this process, and you’ll eventually be able to see exactly how much time your social management takes—and you can identify key areas to cut if necessary.
Once everything is in place the way you want it to be, you’ll have a theoretical framework for the time spent on your marketing campaign. The only thing to do with a theoretical framework, then, is to test it. Put it into use and measure your results against your theoretical yields—for example, determine if there are any tasks that take more or less time than you anticipated, and see whether you can hit your social marketing goals. If anything is off, you’ll have to make adjustments.
With these steps in place, you should have no problem coming up with a system that allows you to take charge of your social media marketing campaign. Eventually, you’ll get used to the process and it will all become second nature to you. Just be sure to take regular time-outs to audit your progress and make adjustments to your approach as necessary.