If there’s one thing I hear regularly from historic sites, small preservation groups, and other people working to save places, it’s “I’d love to do social media, but I don’t have time!”
And I get that, really I do, because even though now my entire job is working with social media, that was not always the case. I’ve spent many years with Facebook, Twitter, and other channels (remember MySpace?) as sideline work, sandwiched in between other responsibilities.
So, when I say you can build and maintain an engaging social media presence with just a small window of time each day, I promise it's tried and true. Here's how:
1. Plan, plan, plan. Yes, crafting a plan can’t be accomplished in a half hour a day, but a little extra time before you get started will make daily maintenance much faster. Check out this handy 101-guide to setting up a conversation calendar -- or, here’s an infographic, if you’re more visually inclined.
2. Keep a list of resources. You may not always be able to answer questions -- or be the right person to respond -- so as part of your plan, make a quick cheat sheet of resources. I’d recommend keeping basic social info (website URL, Facebook page, Twitter handle) on hand for local and statewide preservation organizations, local government agencies involved with preservation, and your State Historic Preservation Office. If you find you’re sharing the same info -- like a tip sheet, for example -- over and over, save it somewhere you can get to it easily, like Evernote.
3. Don’t try to be everywhere. As I mentioned in my post about getting started with social a few weeks back, it’s better to have one or two strong social channels than a bunch of semi-dormant ones. This kind of focus is especially important if your time is limited.
4. Make it a habit. Because social media works best when it’s a two-way conversation, be sure to participate regularly. Even if you can only engage briefly, you’ll build a following faster if people know you’re reliable.
5. Set a timer. It can be all too easy to fall down the rabbit hole with social media, so set yourself a time limit and stick to it. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done in even 15 concentrated minutes.
6. Talk about what you’re already doing. A lot of the resistance I hear to participating in social is around having to “create” one more thing. Don’t -- there’s no need. Social media works best when it’s immediate and real, so talk about what’s already going on. Tweet a photo of a cool building you see on the way to work and ask your followers to do the same. Share a news clipping about an ongoing project and ask your fans to share their opinions.
7. Let Google help you. Not sure how you’ll know when there’s a news clip about your work or an interesting preservation story on a local blog? Google has terrific -- and free! -- tools to make this easy. You can subscribe to blogs using Google Reader and stalk your own projects by creating Google Alerts, which you can have emailed to you or added to your Google Reader account. And Google even makes it easy to share directly to Facebook or Twitter from Reader.
8. Let your fans/friends/partners help you. Follow/friend people who are involved in projects in your community and look at what information they’re putting out. Re-tweet or share interesting things that you see, follow their hashtags for more leads, etc. And let your community talk among themselves -- keep your Facebook wall open to posts and comments from fans. We’ve found that questions often get answered a lot faster from “the peanut gallery” on our Facebook page than we can get to them.
9. Use free scheduling tools. Facebook lets you time your posts in advance, so users with limited time can pre-load their big stories, and then use the rest of their time to answer questions/engage with users. Likewise, a tool like HootSuite can be helpful for pre-scheduling tweets so your account isn’t a once-daily “data dump” as you share articles, photos, etc. in your designated time frame.
10. Make it simple for people to connect with you. It’s easy to lose enthusiasm for social media if there’s no conversation going on, and it’s easy to blame “no time to do it right” when that happens. Making it simple for people to connect with you -- by linking to your social channel(s) on your website, business cards, and email signature -- can expedite the community building that makes social fun (and useful)!
What tips about social media time management have you picked up in your travels? Share them with us in the comments!