One of the questions I get asked the most when I am consulting with a client, or when I’m teaching a workshop is “how can I automate my social media? I want to spend as little time as possible doing my social media marketing.”
I get it. I’m a solo parent, I run my own business, and I teach. Of all the things in my life I wish I had more of, Time is at the top of the list. There are, simply put, just never enough hours in the day.
Here’s the part you’re not going to like, though: when it comes to building a real tribe via social media, there are no shortcuts. You need to put in the time and put in the effort.
A couple of weeks ago, I read this post on one of my favorite blogs, Single Dad Laughing. In it, Dan gets very transparent about how much time he spends online running his blog and social media. You can read the whole thing, but here’s the gist: Dan’s blog is his full-time job.
I asked three local bloggers who all essentially make a living, in one way or another (either by selling services or consulting or by selling advertising or sponsorship) via social media, how much time they spend per day on creating content.
I’m frequently asked, “How do you manage to pump out all of that content every single day?”
Whether it be a podcast, a blog post, a new inspirational graphic or poem, a new photo, tweet or Facebook post… it’s all done like any other regularly recurring task, through focussed intent and consistent action.
To those hoping to find a shortcut to making a dent in the online multiverse, there is no easy and simplified way. Sure, there are a few tools I use to trim away some minutes and tasks such as Buffer to schedule my tweets and Evernote to streamline my content curation and blog writing, but overall I recommend an all hands-on-deck approach.
To be a social media rock star and to make an impact in your unique niche, you need to be present. When I encounter online brands that are fed through automation, I can feel it. I can sense it. And I know most others can as well, whether they realize it or not. It’s the unspoken things, like speedy replies and thank-you comments, or attentive mentions to timely events and happenings (newsjacking, anyone?). Quick turn arounds on social media inquiries can result in new business.
Social Media is all about the Now. This moment. If you’re not really there, someone else will be.
Be wary of automation, you risk becoming an inhuman robot with no personality.
I dedicate about 8 hours a day to blogging but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m sitting typing posts for that entire duration.
A blog post takes between 15 and 120 minutes to produce. More time is required if there’s interview audio I need to transcribe, if there are photos to edit/upload/embed, if I need additional details from a source, if I’m doing history research etc. Prior to those 15 to 120 minutes, I could have also been on-location, on a trip, etc. collecting all the information for putting the post together.
I use Google Calendar to mark down which posts I should write on which days, when I have contests coming up, when ads start etc. Sometime I just sit down and say ‘Ok what should I write about now?’ but 80% of the time I already have something ready to produce or something I’ve already researched.
Once a post is published, then we move onto promotion. Scheduling tweets, scheduling it to post on Facebook, adding it to G+, adding it to Pinterest. All of these things I like to space out so the networks aren’t bombarded at the same time. Scheduling with HootSuite makes life much easier when I can space out my day. WordPress + HootSuite also allow me to step away from the computer so I can go on my post-finding missions and collect photos and content.
Aside from purely producing content there’s the administrative side of running the blog as well: maintenance/website updates, comments, replying to emails (content, promotions, advertising), adding emailed events to my list, responding to inquiries.
I hope this doesn’t terrify you. There are certainly tools out there to make your life easier, like the scheduling option on WordPress or Hootsuite, or Buffer. But the truth is, if you want to create good content, and we all know that good content is what gets you followers, then you need to put the work in. If you want to create a really great tribe, you need to give them something to come back for. You need to engage with them. And you can’t do those things if you put all of your feeds on automatic.
I’m working on my next e-newsletter right now, which is set to come out on April 15. In it, I’m going to share how I create and cross-post my content. If you’re not already on my list, and you want to join, click here.