Social media: It’s a matter of time

Last week the Financial Times ran a special report on digital and social media marketing. The theme was consistent – while there are clearly huge opportunities for marketers, companies are still feeling their way through the dark, windy corridors of Social Media Manor.

As well as being hugely informative, the report struck a chord with us as it mirrored the experience we have seen time and time again. The point is, organisations across the world (largely) see using social media as hugely important – so what is one of the biggest reasons they are not doing it?


Despite 61% of B2B buyers being influenced by word of mouth and 51% of organisations understanding that your digital footprint affects your search ranking, business managers are simply not willing to commit a sufficient amount of their teams time to plan, execute and measure social media activity.

It’s not my job. It’s yours.

One of the regular quandaries faced is who is responsible for managing and keeping on top of the various social networks? Surely, many would argue, it is marketing’s bag. In the end it is all about communicating with customers and getting the brand out to the wider audience of current and potential customers.

Others would push it in the direction of the customer experience folk in the organisation. Your customers want to talk to you through these networks – make sure you are there to engage with them.

Then again, social is all about decision making, communicating and networking which could fit within the remit of any department across the business – from sales to HR.

For most it comes down to one of three options:

First is to create a team who do social media, and social media only – made up of dedicated staff to scour the web for brand mentions and to communicate with customers, all day every day. These are rare though – FT reports last year only 4% of companies have a dedicated social media function.

Second is to outsource all of the activity. This is often a popular choice, and something we have done for clients with successful results. This does however come with complications as confusion arises as to who is responsible for what. Agencies often don’t have the authority to respond to comments online (especially when these are negative)

The third option is making use of the resource you already have. Paul Taylor explains that one of the fastest growing social behaviours is for senior decision makers in a B2B environment to manage their social profile. Getting people to look after the social networks on top of their day job can be a popular choice among businesses getting to grips with social media. Many also encourage staff to manage their own professional social networks with personal news and views.  This is the option where time is the biggest constraint and where a lot of the time social activity does happen to the level that is needed.

Why is time of the essence when it comes to social?

In our opinion is comes down to poor measurement. Despite reams of discussions; a clear and easy to use ROI model has not been developed for social activity and therefore there is no way for employers to see what they are getting from their investment in dedicated staff. The problem is multiplied by the fact that employers often don’t know what success looks like for social media – and therefore what are the KPIs that should be given to these staff?

Until an industry standard way of measuring the activity and its estimated returns is developed, the pot of time allocated to social may be merely a thimble.

Is time not on your side when it comes to managing your social activity? Here are some Earnest top tips to keep you head of the game…

A stitch in time saves nine

Spending just a short amount of time first thing in the morning to respond to any mentions or direct messages across your various networks and having a quick browse of top blogs and news feeds to share with your followers will save your hours later in the day.

Using Google Reader

Google Reader is an excellent tool for finding great content to share with your followers. Simple to set up through your Google account, Reader filters news stories and blog posts into one ‘inbox’ on topics and collect news sources that interest you. All you have to do is scroll and find the best ones that are relevant to your audience.

Auto-scheduled posts

The likes of Hootsuites and Tweetdeck are not only good for keeping on top of a huge stream of tweets, we find one of the most useful features is the automated post function. We would advise putting out 3 to 4 posts each day, which can all be set up to be posted automatically at different points throughout the day – meaning you can get on with your long list of jobs while the tweeting takes care of itself.

Splitting responsibilities

A problem often occurs when, due to the sudden uprise in the popularity of social media, one person is slapped with the title of ‘head of social media’ on top of the rest of their duties and told to go off and get on with it when they simply don’t have the time. Managing your social networks should be a companywide responsibility, so ensure the correct people have the correct roles. Not only this but ensure people are updating their own social networks and link these into the company website or other social channels. Tying it all together is the key.

Invite guest bloggers to write for you

One of the most laborious and time consuming social media activities is blogging. A good blog post needs researching, writing and posting which can take up valuable hours of the day. Inviting guest bloggers to write for you gives them exposure as influencers but also gives your readers regular and informative posts to read on a weekly or daily basis. (Another cheat option for this is using various content aggregation platforms available across the web to pull into your blog)

Our view is that today managing your social networks effectively is invaluable to your business. Time is money but the reality is that not doing it effectively simply is not an option, and so make sure to use the tools available to see the benefits.

What’s your view? Let us know (if you have the time)

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