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overcoming the social media marketing time challenge for small businesses

social media marketing

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by Kenneth Rudich

Social media marketing can be an intimidating prospect for the small business owner that is already pretty occupied with day-to-day stuff.
 
For busy people, time is typically in short supply.  And yet, social media marketing consumes time.  Thus, there is a built-in conflict between the two, and it must somehow be overcome if the social media marketing initiative is going to be an effective marketing tool.

facing the challenge

There are essentially four strategies to consider when it comes to managing the time element of social media marketing.  Determining which might work best for you is one of those things that must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.  They are:

1. do it in-house

The in-house strategy assumes you will find a way to set aside time for doing it yourself.  Note that it will require a regular — perhaps even daily — allotment of time.  Nonetheless, there are instances where it is not only feasible but advisable.  It often depends on the platform being used (e.g., twitter, facebook, a blog, linkedin, etc.), your aptitude with using it, and your marketing objectives.
     
Sometimes the combination of platform, aptitude, and objectives makes it only smart to do it for yourself.  A good example can be seen with the cuisine food trucks that use twitter to broadcast to fans where they will be parked on a given day or at a given time.  For them, it’s quick, easy, and effective.

2. a consortium

A consortium strategy offers the advantage of dividing the labor among a group of interested parties or businesses.  This is particularly useful when the social media strategy is more complex or time intensive. 

A systematic design for executing the social media initiative — that is, spreading out the workload — can make it more manageable for everyone without compromising its effectiveness.  In fact, it might even enhance the effectiveness of it.

The two strategies below illustrate how this might work:

  1. When the businesses are geographically clustered but complementarily diversified.  Think of a shopping center or mall, or a small tourist town, where it’s desirable to drive customers to a particular location.  The consortium would be comprised of the businesses that benefit from the increased traffic to that location.
  2. When businesses are geographically dispersed but share a common theme.  This might be a situation where the businesses cater to a common target audience but are geographically separated so as not to compete with one another.  For instance, a group of geographically dispersed sports bars could share content that appeals to their customers and builds a larger community without the risk of one stealing business from another.
3. outsourcing

All or part of the social media initiative can be outsourced.  Though this strategy requires a financial investment, it also minimizes the time investment.  Additionally, it may produce better results if it is outsourced to a provider that specializes in social media marketing.

4. hybrid

The hybrid approach cherry picks (mix-and-matches) the best solutions from the other options.  For instance, a consortium might outsource the work to gain several benefits simultaneously, like minimizing individual time investment, splitting the costs, and having it professionally managed.  Or an individual owner might wish to assume some responsibilities while outsourcing other parts of it.

summary

Each alternative has it pros and cons.  At the same time, they offer the flexibility of picking a solution that works best (or better) for you.  Plus, you’re not bound to stay with one if it is not meeting your expectations.   

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