Many small business owners don’t have the bandwidth to manage social media accounts—let alone the budget to hire dedicated team members or a 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 platforms: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or even TikTok. Without an active presence, your company may be forgotten, lose customers to competition—or worse yet, 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 does that mean, exactly? In simple terms, it comes down to monitoring the conversations people are having on social media about your business niche.

Social listening can involve tracking keywords, hashtags, mentions, and messages for your brand and competitors. But don’t worry, you don’t have to manually scour the internet. There are tools that make tracking a lot easier (*cough* social media management tools like Hootsuite).

In Hootsuite, you can set up streams to monitor all your social channels from one dashboard. This makes it easier for you to engage with mentions from followers, customers, and prospects 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 your brand mentions

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

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.

Feedback

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 color options, you’ve just spotted a new sales opportunity.

Trends

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.”

Updates

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 social marketing strategy in place makes social media management that much easier.

Tip: If you don’t have time or budget for high-production content, consider adding user-generated content, memes, or curated content to your social media calendar.

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 your posts

With the right tools, it should only take you about a minute to schedule your social media posts. All you have to do is add your content, select the time you’d like to publish it, 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 a social media management platform like Hootsuite, you can even schedule several posts in advance, so you only have to do this once a week (freeing up more time to do the next task in this list: Engage).

Schedule content 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 target audience is based.

Check out the best times and days to post on your Facebook Page, Twitter, Instagram, and 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 with your audience

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, the 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 goodwill from consumers.

Tip: When possible, try to engage shortly after posting something. If you’ve timed it right, that’s when your audience will be online and engaging. That way you’ll interact with people in real time and 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.

Save time managing your social media presence with Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can publish and schedule social media content, find relevant conversions, engage the audience, measure results, and more. Try it free today.

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