It's true: social media is here--and there goes your life! Well, maybe not entirely but it sure seems that way sometimes, doesn't it? If you've held off joining the social media party because you were worried about what a time suck it would be, take heart! There are a lot of authors who feel the same way. I speak at conferences all the time and at almost every event I get at least a half a dozen people who insist they don't have time to devote to social media. Well, the fact remains you don't have time not to! But if you are still worried about the time commitment, let's take a look at how you can do this without dumping too much of your time into this effort. I mean an author's still gotta write, right?
When it comes to social media, understand this: sometimes more is not better; it's just more. You don't want to push yourself to too many sites because that can lead to fragmenting yourself too much online and, when you get fragmenting, you often get site abandonment. Meaning that you populate content on a (social media) site, only to forget it even exists.
1. Skim: the first phase of online promotion is often reading. This can be anything from Twitter posts to Facebook updates, blog posts and online articles. Here's a tip: skim. You'll want to be very selective with anything that you feel is worthy of an in-depth read. Save your time for the real important stuff and skim the rest.
2. Subscribe to RSS feeds, but only those you actually read: it's tempting to subscribe to a whole bunch of RSS blog feeds (just like it's tempting to get an email box full of newsletters but save yourself the hassle and only subscribe to content you can actually read). The same goes for people you follow on Twitter, if they don't add value, let them go. You don't need the noise.
3. Keep a timer nearby: if you are allocating time each day to your online activities, it's safe to assume you'll go over time unless you really police yourself. Get a kitchen timer and keep it near your desk, when the buzzer goes off, stop!
4. Automate whenever you can: automating can be the key to your online happiness. When you have autoresponders or auto content generators in place they can save you scads of time. An easy and quick way to implement example of this might be your newsletter sign ups. There are a variety of systems, one of them via Constant Contact that will allow you to easily automate sign ups. Even if you have a giveaway for signing up, the system can handle this too!
5. Consolidate your online presence: when you use sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Squidoo, you can really consolidate what you're doing online. Why? Because these three sites "talk" to one another, what that means is that if you update one, they all update. Makes it easy, doesn't it? While you still should visit each of these to populate them with content, you can also plug your information into one source and have it update all your properties. The 'source' can actually be your blog too. Using a site called Twitterfeed can update your Twitter account each time you update your blog, and there are widgets in Facebook and Squidoo that will do the same.
6. Get a routine: get yourself into a social media routine. You'll want to identify the best times of the day for you to blog, get active on Facebook, Twitter, etc., and then don't diverge from that. Stick to a schedule and a routine.
7. Cross-pollinate your stuff: much like my section on consolidating, you'll want to also cross-pollinate your content. Syndicated online articles are a good example of that. You can link to these articles from a variety of places. Your Twitter account for one will really benefit from this content, and you can also upload it to Facebook and Squidoo.
8. Do only essential things: you can waste a lot of your time online. By now you know that a million things can distract you; it's important to keep to the essentials. This means that you define what pushes your campaign forward and what doesn't. By doing this you will gain a better sense of where it's best to spend your time. For example, if blogging seems to get you a lot of new newsletter sign ups, continue doing it.
9. Don't follow the leader: while there are a lot of folks out there telling you what to do (including moi), you want to do what's right for you and your campaign, not what's popular. Twitter, for example, might make no sense for you at all. So don't just follow advice because you trust the source. Listen, learn, then do what will have the biggest impact on your campaign.
10. Create a plan: without a direction, any path will do. Make sure you have a plan for going online, don't just do it because it's "hip" or everyone else is. Make sure you spend some time creating a focused outline of what you'll do, what your goals are and what you need to attain to accomplish these goals. A plan will not only keep you focused, but also stay better on track with your marketing. A plan should include goals and a to do list so you make sure and sift through all the action items you need to create a rockin' online campaign.
These days, social media is a must for anyone promoting anything. But it doesn't have to mean that it's a time suck too. Keeping a social media presence also means managing it carefully. Know where to spend your time, what needs to be limited and where your efforts need to be expanded. Sometimes the quickest way to grow traction online is to isolate your efforts, while everyone is throwing it all "out there," you can create a focused plan that will not only gain you momentum, but readers as well.