Small business owners struggle with a lot of day to day challenges, so I understand how you can feel overwhelmed at the thought of adding social media to controlling social mediayour to-do list. You know you need to tap into the powers of social media marketing but you just have no idea how you’re going to make it happen without being chained to your desk 24/7.

Like any new project, you’re going to do yourself a huge favor if you take the time in the beginning to put together a plan of attack. If you can carve out some time in the morning, mid-day and again in the evening to devote to your social media accounts, you will have a firm grasp on it and before you know it, you’ll be spending LESS time on it and not more.

Here are some ideas and guidelines to help you break free from the chains that bind you (to your desk):

  1. You don’t have to be everywhere. One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is thinking that they have to be EVERYWHERE on social media. You should be on the big ones – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn at the very least. Then, if you have time and you think that it fits your client base, add a couple of others. Pinterest is great if you’re e-commerce, retail, restaurant or most any other B2C. But if you manufacture hose fittings, you probably would be wasting your time.  Focus on the ones that have the largest audience, “master” them and then add another one.
  2. Use third party sites to manage your accounts. I prefer Hootsuite but some prefer Tweetdeck or others.  With Hootsuite, I can manage my Twitter account, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, WordPress blog, AND my Foursquare account all from the same place. I often hear the moaning from clients about having to “log in and log out” of all these accounts. Well, moan no more. One site, one log-in, one dashboard. Plus you have analytics to review once you get more comfortable with the networks! Added bonus – if you know that you’re going to be completely unavailable one day or are on vacation, you can schedule your posts. I don’t advocate doing this often, but in a pinch it beats going off the radar for days at a time.
  3. Set up alerts and use monitoring sites. Sometimes you will have NO clue what’s being said or posted about you or your company. This can easily be avoided by putting measures in place that will ensure that you are aware. Google alerts is the most commonly used. Just go to Google Alerts and enter your name, your company name and any common misspellings for both. You can set how often you’re alerted by email (once a day, as it happens, etc.) when any of those entries come thru the Google system. I also use SocialMention  once a day. Same concept but this time it will specifically check social media sites (minus Facebook).  Facebook is a little trickier but one that seems to catch a lot of Facebook mentions is Addict-O-Matic.

Like anything new, it just takes time, patience and a plan to make social media work to your advantage.  The biggest piece of advice that I can give you is simply – don’t give up. Give yourself 6 weeks to really get a feel for how the sites can work for you and I promise – at the end of those 6 weeks, you’ll look back on the beginning and wonder what you were ever intimidated by!

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