In inbound marketing, we talk a lot about optimization -- optimizing your content for search engines, optimizing your website for lead generation, optimizing your social media presence. But another very important thing inbound marketers must optimize is time. Yes, compared to outbound marketing, inbound marketing saves money and is much more effective. But you also need to put the time in.
However, marketers often spend too much time on strategies and tactics that don't make any real impact, particularly in social media. Don't waste your precious marketing time on things that aren't worth your time. Avoid the following 7 social media time-sucks at all costs.
7 Social Media Time-Sucks to Avoid
1. Stop feeding the trolls. On the internet, trolls are people who make it their mission to disrupt online discussions (whether it's on a forum, in a blog post's comments section, in a social network, etc.) with the goal of provoking an emotional response. Often, their comments are off-topic, inflammatory, and disruptive to the conversation. In general, don't waste your time on them; it's often better to ignore their remarks than try to reason with them. Do your best to recognize trolls, take a deep breath, and move on. If you perceive someone as a troll, chances are your other readers will, too, so don't worry about trolls negatively impacting your brand if you ignore them.
2. Stop maintaining multiple accounts on one social network. You have one Twitter account for customer service, another for marketing, and yet another for Sales. Your Facebook presence is also spread out across multiple Pages. There are some cases when more than one account makes sense, but be reasonable. Consolidating your presence into one account will save you the time of maintaining multiple accounts, help you attract more followers, and centralize your web presence. You can always have multiple contributors/administrators for one account if you want representatives from multiple departments to be involved.
3. Stop spending time on social networks your target customers don't populate. It's an unnecessary time-suck to maintain a presence on every single social network that crops up. Before you sign up for a social media account, conduct research to determine if your target customers even congregate there. Furthermore, adjust the amount of time you spend on each social network accordingly. It doesn't matter if Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the most popular social networks overall. If your target audience spends more time on a niche social media platform specific to your industry than they do on a 'popular' one like Facebook, spend more of your time there, too.
4. Stop tracking useless metrics. At the end of the day, it's all about sales. While there are definitely metrics that can be good indicators of revenue and sales, there are some that just generally don't matter. In social media, these metrics include your number of fans and followers. Rather than obsessing over these useless metrics, measure social media traffic, leads, and customers instead.
5. Stop talking about your product. Don't waste your time talking about yourself and your products or services, because, well, no one really wants to hear it. What your fans and followers do want to hear, on the other hand, is your thought leadership. Rather than spending time talking about yourself, spend time creating and sharing educational, remarkable content that people will care about and want to spread to their networks. This will extend your reach and actually generate results.
6. Stop strategizing, and start doing. Too many businesses waste time preparing over-the-top, extensive social media strategy documents. They spend time creating them, and then they spend even more time waiting for their approval. By the time they actually start executing, they could've already been generating results. Sure, it's important to have a clear vision for your social media strategy, but getting things done and being agile enough to adapt to new trends and developments is more important than having a definitive strategy document.
7. Stop responding to EVERYTHING. As your business and social media presence grow (and, isn't that the goal?), you'll undoubtedly start generating more fans, followers, and as a result, more discussion around your brand. If you kill yourself over trying to respond to every single comment or @reply, you'll never get anything meaningful done. While it's absolutely critical to be an active member of your community and engage with your prospects and customers, always prioritize and spend your time responding to the conversations that are truly worthwhile.
Start eliminating these social media time-sucks and focusing on tactics that really matter. You'll love how much looser your schedule becomes. What other time-sucks would you add to this list?
Image Credit: blue2likeyou
Originally published Sep 12, 2011 9:00:00 AM, updated March 21 2013