Many small businesses don’t have the time or the wherewithal to manage social media accounts—let alone the budget to hire a dedicated social media manager.

But that doesn’t make social media management any less important. People expect to be able to connect with businesses on social channels, whether Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn—or even TikTok. Without an active presence, your company may be forgotten, lose customers to competition—or worse, look neglectful.

Plus, you may be missing out on new customers. More than 40% of digital shoppers use social media to research new brands and products.

For those who are short on time, we’ve put together an 18-minute plan. This plan takes you minute-by-minute through the social necessities, highlighting time-saving tips along the way.

If you’ve got more time for social, use it. But for those who don’t, here’s how to make every minute count.

Bonus: Download our free, customizable social media calendar template to easily plan and schedule all your content in advance.

The 18-minute-a-day social media plan

Here’s a down-to-the-minute look at how to stay on top of social.

Minutes 1-5: Social listening

Start off with five minutes devoted to social listening. What is social listening? In simple terms, it involves monitoring the conversations people are having on social media about your business niche.

That includes keywords, hashtags, mentions, and messages for your brand and competitors. There are tools that make tracking a lot easier (*cough* Hootsuite).

In Hootsuite, you can set up streams to monitor all your social channels from one dashboard. This saves you from having to manually search for keywords and mentions, channel by channel. It also makes it easier for you to engage later on.

Here are a few things you should check and take note of each day:

  • Mentions of your brand
  • Mentions of your product or service
  • Specific hashtags and/or keywords
  • Competitors and partners
  • Industry news and trends

If your business has a physical location or storefront, use geo-search to filter for local conversations. That will help you focus on customers that are close to you, and the local topics they care about.

Tip: If you have some extra time to invest upfront, take our free course Social Listening with Hootsuite Streams to save more time in the long run.

Minutes 5-10: Analyze and plan

Take another five minutes to analyze your findings. Doing this will help you fine-tune your social listening process and marketing efforts. Here are some of the aspects you should keep in mind:


Sentiment is a good place to start. How are people talking about your brand? How does it compare with how they are talking about your competitors? If things are mostly positive, that’s great. If negative, start thinking about ways you can steer the conversation in a more positive direction.


Do your customers have specific feedback about your business? Look for recurring trends and insights that you can act on.

For example, if you run a restaurant and a lot of people find the music too loud, turn it down. If you offer a product, such as gym bands, and customers express an interest in more colour options, you’ve just spotted a new sales opportunity.


What are the current trends in your industry? Spotting them can help you identify new niches and audiences to engage with. Or, maybe they’ll inspire content for your next marketing campaign. Even better—maybe they’ll inform the development of a new product or service.

Purchase Intent

Social media listening doesn’t only involve tracking conversations from current customers. It can help you find new customers, too. Track phrases or topics that prospective customers may use when they’re in the market for your offering.

For example, if your company is a travel provider, in January you may want to track keywords like “winter blues” and “vacation.”


Have you noticed a new keyword emerging? Or maybe you’ve noticed a common typo when people mention your brand. Maybe a new competitor has entered the playing field. Keep an eye out for things you should add to your social media listening tracking list.

Minutes 10-12: Check your content calendar

Check your content calendar to see what you’ve planned to post for the day. Double-check that visuals, photos, and copy are all good to go. Always make sure to proofread one last time to spot those last minute typos.

Hopefully you already have a social media marketing plan and content calendar in place. If you don’t, plan to set aside about an hour each month to brainstorm and prepare ideas, and fill in your calendar.

Whether you outsource content creation, take advantage of free tools, or do everything yourself, having a solid strategy in place make social media management that much easier.

Tip: If you don’t have time or budget for high-production content, consider user-generated content, memes, or quick and beautiful images.

Bonus: Download our free, customizable social media calendar template to easily plan and schedule all your content in advance.

Get the template now!

Minutes 12-13: Schedule

With the right tools, it should only take you about a minute to schedule your posts. All you have to do is add your content, select the time you’d like to publish, and schedule.

These tools are particularly helpful if you’d like to post content at times when you’re on vacation or simply unavailable. With Hootsuite you can even schedule several posts in advance, so you only have to do this once a week (freeing up more time for you to do the next task in this list: Engage).

Schedule your post for times when people are most likely to be online. In general, Hootsuite research finds that the best time to post on social media is between 9 a.m. and 12 a.m. EST. But that can vary platform by platform. And of course, depending on where your audience is based.

Check out the best times and days to post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn.

Tip: Use analytics to see when your audience is usually online, too. It may be different from the global average.

Minutes 13-18: Engage

Before logging off, take the time to engage with customers. Respond to questions, like comments, and share posts. The more active you are, the more likely people are to engage with you.

The more positive the experience, they more likely people will be to buy from you and recommend your business. In fact, more than 70% of consumers who have a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to refer the brand to friends and family.

To save time, you can create templates for common responses. These are particularly useful when you find yourself frequently sharing the same specific details, like opening hours or return policies.

But don’t overuse boilerplate responses. People appreciate authenticity and want to feel like a real person is engaging with them. Even something as simple as leaving customer service agent initials in replies increases good will from consumers.

Tip: When possible, try to engage shortly after you’ve posted something. If you’ve timed it right, that’s when your audience will be online and engaging. That way you’ll maintain a good response time, too.

Looking for more time-saving social media tools? These 9 social media templates will save you hours of work.

Use Hootsuite to schedule all of your social media posts, engage with your followers, and measure performance—all within 18 minutes per day. Sign up today.

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