I recently attended HubSpot's Inbound 13 conference in Boston. The biggest takeaway from the conference was that inbound marketing, as a conceptual way to reach people, is genuinely inline with how we as humans want to interact. We want personalized content in the context we want to consume it in. The whole idea of giving people what they want, when they want it and how they want it is the future. I can say that because all the keynote speeches, the whole takeaway, every session I attended, they all just made sense. It was inline with what I believed and wanted not only for marketing as a marketer but what I wanted for communication as a person.
For those unsure of just what inbound marketing is, inbound marketing is attracting people to you instead of interrupting them with messages, aka, outbound marketing (print, television, radio, etc.) How do you attract people? By providing value in the form of content.
Inbound marketing tactics are surely a much more cost effective way of reaching your audience. Costs generally coming in at the amount of time it takes to apply tactics. A large part of inbound marketing is social media marketing.
So, just how much time does social media marketing take?
The average marketer spends 4-6 hours a week on social media. – Social Media Examiner
Why does social media take so much time?
- Because there is no cutting corners. You can't do social media halfway. If you are going to adapt a social media marketing strategy, which you probably should given that over a year ago, 83% of marketers indicated that social media was important for their business and no one likes to be left behind, you have to do it right.
- A large part of the time it takes to implement a social media marketing strategy has to do with automation vs. actual interaction. I'm a firm believer in the necessity of automation for social media marketing, I wouldn't possibly be able to keep my head and my accounts straight without it, but I'm an even bigger believer in the importance of real time engagement. (Not to mention there are some platforms in which you can't schedule posts yet.) If you really want your social media marketing strategy to deliver results, you need to manage time for day to day engagement in which you are responding in real time, reaching out in real time and sharing relevant timely content in addition to your scheduled content. You have to make time to be a human and to be SOCIAL on these networks.
- Analysis. If you really want to drive engagement, you need to be taking some time to keep up with what is happening in the ever evolving world of social media. Furthermore, it's important to research what others are doing successfully on social media as well as what's working for your strategy and attempting to understand why.
How do you best apply your time?
The first thing you should do is determine where your audience is hanging out. We want to start conversations and provide value to our target audience in the places where they like to consume content and have conversations. Makes sense right?
To start, I would suggest picking at least 3 social media platforms to be present on. Again, pick three where you think your audience will be. Maybe pick a fourth as an experimental platform. As always, test and analyze which platforms perform the best.
As mentioned before, I'm still a big supporter of scheduling automated tweets, posts, etc. I like to sit down one day a week and take a couple of hours to schedule content for the week. This allows me the time I need to do research to find relevant and interesting content so that I'm not daily trying to find something of interest. Say that takes you 2.5 hours to schedule, where do the other hours come in?
For many, especially those using platforms like Pinterest, Facebook & Instagram, creating captivating images is an integral part of a social media strategy. Depending on how detailed you want to get with creating those images, this could take up to several hours. But let's say you do the bare minimum with just a few minor tweaks here and there and gather the rest from various free photo sites, let's say that takes 0.75 hours.
The final and most important part of your social strategy is the engagement and "real time" aspect. You should allow for a minimum of 15 minutes a day (I would recommend a minimum of 15 minutes twice a day at peak engagement hours) to engage with people on your social media platforms. This means responding to comments as well as sharing and commenting on relevant topics happening at the time on your social platforms.