Making the Most of Social Media Tools in Business

Social media is fun – it’s networking online after all! And yet in business, keeping up a social media presence can quickly drop down the list of priorities and start to feel like a chore.

Social media tools appear the obvious solution – they allow for filtering, scheduling and shortcuts.

But beware: All the effort of writing blog posts, preparing social media updates and deciding what to post when can easily go to waste if the “human factor” is lost.

Making a success of social media as part of a busy schedule

When entrepreneurs, business owners and marketers alike hear about tools to automate social media processes, they often feel relief: “You mean I can just let the tools do it for me? Cool!”

Not exactly.

For social media to be successful and fit in with a busy schedule, it needs to fulfil three criteria:

Promote productivity and efficiency. Social media must mean something to your business and complement other priorities of the working day.

Make the right impression. The tone and messaging communicated must be helpful, not pushy or salesy, and placed in front of the right people.

Help people get to know you better. Online activity has to seem like you are really there – even if in reality you have scheduled your tweets, outsourced your copywriting and asked a designer to create an infographic for you!

With this in mind, here is what you can do to get the balance right:

Scheduling is fine, but final curation comes down to you

There are a number of tools for curation: Flipboard for your smart phone and Feedly for your desktop, for instance. These tools allow collation of all your favourite blogs in one place – with them you can get into the habit of skim reading headlines and opening only those posts you feel would be interesting to your followers. When sharing these – through Buffer, for example – clicking one button opens up a pop-up, allows you to confirm a picture, prewrites your headline and shortens the URL. From there, you can choose which channels to send the article out to, add your own comment and, if sharing on Twitter, a couple of hashtags too.

While it’s using automation, it’s still personal – you have chosen the article to share, and you retain control over what was written to accompany it.

Jump in yourself

Whatever you may have curated when it comes to sharing found content, make a habit of looking at your social channel activity while waiting for a bus, queuing at the supermarket, or working in between meetings to see what people have said; comment on some posts and reply to anyone who has spoken to you on social media. This allows you to intercept some of your shared content with the ‘real you’. The idea is, eventually, you’re going to start meeting some of these people and having real life conversations with them about business!

Pre-plan content

It’s an obvious one but actually very few people do this effectively. If you get help, make sure you have the final sign-off on what gets put out there. Create a two-week calendar that includes all planned pre-approved images, blog shares, publishing dates and event-related activity, and stick to it. Once you have all these things in place, you will see that many of your image shares and blog posts can be prescheduled. Then, make sure you repeat step two – check in and see what the reaction has been to your pre-planned content.

The human factor

Even with all our tools for scheduling posts and measuring stats, social media activity really only works for those who acknowledge there are people out there behind the social profiles who both follow and interact with them. It’s not about getting ‘likes’ and retweets, it’s about making a connection with others – and bringing them into the real world whenever the time feels right!