Leveraging social media is one of the key methods to drive traffic and awareness of your website and business. And there are plenty of social networks to choose from – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest to name a few. And of course, you don’t want to focus on just one, so you end up spending time updating all of them.

But you have a business to run! You don’t have the time to go to every social media account and update them. Fortunately, technology is your friend, so you don’t have to. But before we get onto that, let’s talk about the first ingredient in leveraging social media effectively.

Limit the number of social networks you use

You don’t need to be on all of the social networks. Social media is as much about engagement and communicating with real people (replying to people etc) as it is posting updates. If you are on too many social networks, you will spread yourself too thin and may not be effective with any of them. So pick three or four that you will focus on. For me, that is Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Your mileage may vary depending on your audience.

Send bulk updates

There is no need to manually send updates to social networks. When you send an update (a tweet or a Facebook update), you can send it in bulk to all of the social networks at once using a system like [Buffer] or [Hootsuite]. I use Buffer for this, but Hootsuite is also good.

They are really easy to set up. First you need to connect the system with the social networks. This is just a matter of adding your username and password for the social network and authorising that Buffer or Hootsuite send updates on your behalf.

Then, you can schedule updates. This means that you don’t need to send them in real time. Instead, you can setup all of your updates for the next week in one sitting. Batching work up like this is a real time saver. You can configure it by the number of times you will send an update per day and the actual times. For example, you may decide to send two updates per day, one at 10am and one at 3pm.

The power of analytics

These systems allow you to see how popular your updates are and how engaged your audience is with them. For example, you can see how many people retweet on Twitter and how many reply. This is a great way to see which updates are gaining the more engagement with the target audience. This insight will help you to refine your updates to improve engagement over time.

It’s not all one way

Social media is not a one way road. If people rely on your updates, you should reply back (especially if they are asking a question). To increase your network, you can also engage with other people by replying to their updates to get a conversation going. It’s surprising how effective this can be.

Set aside time

Social media can be addictive and you may end up spending hours per day reading, posting and replying. To stop yourself spending too much time, you might find it useful to set aside blocks of time and stick to it, rather than having your Twitter client open all day.

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