The average American spends about three hours a day on social media, and business owners spend 50 percent more time than that managing their social profiles. Fortunately, there are ways you can maximize the value you get from social media, while minimizing the amount of energy it takes to manage it. With these tips, you can cut down on the time you spend on social media, while elevating your brand and expanding your reach.

1. Schedule Posts in Advance

If you’ve been logging on to social media sites, like Twitter and Facebook, for a few minutes here and there, stop to consider how much time that actually eats up in total. A better strategy is to sit down and schedule a week’s worth of tweets and status updates at once. Facebook Pages feature a built-in scheduling tool, and apps like Hootsuite allow you to schedule updates to multiple profiles simultaneously.

2. Use a Social Media Dashboard

Dashboard apps like Hootsuite and others can help drastically cut back on the time you spend visiting each social site, and they each offer slighty different features and benefits. For example, Sprout lets you view your updates in calendar form so you can ensure you’re scheduling a steady stream of content. Cyfe, which lets you customize your dashboard to include social media, analytics, sales, support, and more, shows you exactly where your social followers live and other useful demographics.

3. Automate Social Sharing for New Blog Content

There are plenty of tools that can automate simple processes, such as sharing your most recent blog post on your social channels. With Twitterfeed,you can set your blog to automatically publish to all your social channels, and you can customize how each update looks. NetworkedBlogs does the same, with the added benefit of discoverability: People can search through existing linked blogs to discover new content (yours).

4. Follow People Who Mention You 

There’s some discussion about whether you should follow back everyone who follows you on social media. That may be going overboard, since many people use bots to follow as many people as possible, and sometimes these are spam profiles. What does work (and is quick to do) is to follow anyone who shares your content or sends you a direct message. Look at it this way: These people are already qualified, since you know they’re interested in what you’re doing. A single click for each person on your Twitter or other social stream should just take a few minutes.

5. Hire Someone to Help

Just because you don’t have the time to take on managing your social accounts doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Hiring a social media consultant or firm is typically reasonably priced for small businesses, and you can typically settle on a monthly retainer to cover the activities you need help with.

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