One thing I’m often asked is how long my job takes. “How long do you spend on Facebook a day?” “How much time does it take to ‘do’ Twitter?” “How quickly can you come up with a social strategy?”
The answer is simply that there’s no simple answer. My response to these sorts of questions is always, “Tell me what you’re trying to do and let’s go from there.”
What are your business objectives? Who’s your audience? What are they saying about you? What do you want to tell them?
Many people don’t think about social media in these terms. They think of numbers, such as followers, views and “likes.” They think of minutes and seconds and headcount. If they’re yet to start out, they’re often worried about how much time it’s going to take and who’s going to do it.
Articles such as “Social media management in 34 minutes a day (or less)” prey on this concern and lack of knowledge. It’s a misleading, clickbait headline that would make Buzzfeed proud.
The truth is that doing social media correctly does take time. And the time you’re putting in varies.
You can spend a minute here and there retweeting and repinning, but very quickly you’ll need to create your own content. A good content strategy is the centrepiece of creating a community, and all of that takes real time.
It’s not a sixty-second job of plucking a status out of the air on a whim. It’s writing and designing and scheduling content that fits your brand, speaks to your audience, and plays to the strengths of each platform.
When you’re beginning, you have to take time to identify your audience and track conversations to join. You have to put yourself out there and make your target market know you exist in the social media space. Over time, that workload may shift into customer service, but the actual time spent shouldn’t diminish. In fact, if you’re building a community, one of the measures of success could be how much more work you create for yourself.
Every business is different. Many are at different stages of adopting social media, and all have specific needs and priorities. That’s another reason why “34 minutes” is so misleading. What if your objective is to develop prospects? What if you’ve built a community that is starting to self-service (in which case, you’re doing really well)? What if you open Twitter one day and you’ve got a massive corporate comms crisis to deal with?
A so-called social media guru might seduce you with ways to quickly build a community, as if social strategy is a fad diet. The right person to help with your social media will always put the importance of understanding your business before some flashy but cheap buzzwords.
Don’t try to Tim Ferriss your digital marketing and cut corners. Building a community takes time and effort.
Sebastian Vasta is head of strategy at Quiip, an Australian social media and online community management company. He is a social media and community management specialist whose strategies and content come from a thorough understanding of online technology, the digital process and social behaviors.