Ten time-saving ways to manage all things that are ‘social' in order to focus on what matters most: communicating your brand and business strategy.
(1) Have a strategy
It seems obvious but you can also clearly tell which brands have a strategy and those that do not. Doing social media because it's 'there' or because you 'can' is not a reason to do it. If you want to manage your content and distribution, you need to have a strategy: both business and communication. What will help you more than anything is knowing how you plan to use your channels, whether it be for branding, customer service or education. This should be an ongoing process as it will help you prioritise the channels that need the most attention from you - the key word being 'prioritise'.
(2) Spread the wealth
Four or five years ago having one person manage your social content was easy. Today, there's simply too much data happening too quickly for any one person to manage it all. Training staff, finding internal champions for specific platforms and making sure many people are monitoring what is happening is critical. You should communicate regularly to your company what channels you are using and show how you are benefiting from social media. Creating internal awareness will help you find others to assist in your efforts. Audiences won't trust your site if it has out of date content.
(3) Niche platforms now matter
Yes, the large networks like Facebook and Twitter can help you reach the masses, but don't forget that key platforms are starting to emerge that focus on very niche audiences. Do your research and see which ones you may want to take advantage of for your brand, such as StockTwits. You will find that more narrow topics with a smaller audience will help you find internal experts to help you manage your distribution and monitoring. In addition, these niche platforms can allow you to experiment more in a smaller, more topical environment.
(4) News alerts
Google Alerts and breaking news from news media sources matter, especially as we operate now in a real-time environment. You need to stay on top of what is affecting your industry and competition now more than before, so take advantage of these alerts to be sent to you as quickly as possible. Most news applications for mobile devices also allow you to personalise the news settings; take the time to do so and make the news come to you rather than chasing it.
(5) Get a dashboard
To significantly simplify all that you do with social media it is imperative to deploy a dashboard, like Hootsuite. Not only will you be able to manage multiple resources but you will be able to share these within your team and also track and measure your results. What has made this the must have resource for you is the fact that it operates effortlessly in a mobile environment, which now gives you access when and where you may need information - during your commute, in a meeting or at the airport. If you are not using one now, make this the first thing you do after reading the rest of these ideas.
(6) Block time
You could just continue to refresh your computer screen all day, but that's neither productive nor a reality. To be effective, you should follow a regime and schedule that makes sense for your business. That can mean checking your social networks hourly or just a few times a day, but getting into a routine will help you understand your networks better and allow you to better manage your time. No matter how often you choose to review what is happening online you do need to make the timein order to be successful. Eventually, it will just become a part of your daily routine.
(7) Measure your progress
If you're not measuring your activities, how can you manage them? Simple, you can't. Put in place metrics and the tools you need to better understand your audience and your success. Facebook and LinkedIn analytics do a great job at giving you some of the key metrics you need, but don't rely on the standard data. You will need to find ways to better analyse the information for you and your company.
(8) Manage your content
Information today is coming from every location and trying to read it all simply cannot happen. Make sure you utilise RSS feeds as much as possible and look into applications like Flipboard and Pulse. If you can centralise all the important content that you want to follow or share with your stakeholders, you must have it all located where you can access it quickly. Google Reader and Bloglines are two resources that make this possible. It's also important to 'cleanse' your reading lists by deleting feeds you no longer use and adding fresh, new content. (You and your audience will appreciate it..
(9) List management
Twitter lists are a fantastic tool for following key people and brands. You can feed your lists into Hootsuite and other tools and also keep them private if that's important to you from a competitive standpoint. Take advantage of this simple tool in order to save you time and effort constantly chasing news and information. I can assure you that you will quickly come to appreciate this tool from Twitter.
(10) Leverage others
The key to all of this is that social media is a vast ecosystem so treat it like one. You should have in place the people, vendors, customers and suppliers who you know you can rely on to help send you content. Just remember that you need to reciprocate and do the same. Also, remember that these are 'social' networks; don't be afraid to ask someone to help whom you respect, read blogs on this topic and network with others to benchmark your own work. In fact, I would suggest you send me feedback on this list and add what you think I've missed (@allanschoenberg on Twitter).