Working in social media and communications, leading workshops and teaching part-time at the University of Toronto, I get questions. Lots of questions. Here are the top four things people ask me, for this week’s marketing tip.

clock1. How can I avoid spending an excessive amount of time on social media?
Social media can be a time suck, in two ways. As a user of social media, you might find an interesting link on Facebook, click through to the publication, and then spot six more things you’d like to read, then four more, and so on. Before you know it, an hour has whizzed by and you’re not entirely sure why you’re watching a cat video.

You can streamline your perusal of social media by limiting the time you allow yourself to freely traverse the social media world. What works for me is a half hour first thing in the morning, followed by short bursts of social media goodness several more times later in the day, then perhaps in the evening during my down time. TweetDeck is my preferred tool for organizing my Twitter stream so I can see my various lists and hashtag searches at a glance. Trying to read the whole Twitter stream on the Twitter home page is futile.

As a publisher of content, I love Buffer, which allows me to queue up a bunch of items in the early morning and spool them out during the day. I always caution clients against over-automating, but Buffer can be a very handy tool. You’ll find more tips in this post on “How to find and share great content.”

2. We hired someone to set us up with social media accounts. But now we don’t know what to do with these accounts.
Unfortunately, some consultants will “set you up” on social media and then leave you hanging. Creating an account on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Pinterest, for example, is merely a step in your tactical approach. You need a strategy first.

Why are you using social media? What are you trying to accomplish? How will you measure success? Answer these three questions, and then create an editorial calendar. Only then can you start publishing content. Read my post on “Why social media without content marketing makes no sense.

3. How will I know if my social media efforts are working?
What were you trying to accomplish? Did it happen? Sure, look at the numbers, but it’s not all about likes and retweets. Getting 100 retweets or 500 likes may boost your ego, but if it doesn’t spark any tangible results, what’s the point?

computer4. Do I really need to blog?
In short, yes, you do. Websites without fresh content are less likely to attract eyeballs. Your blog can function as the hub for your online presence, with your accounts on other platforms as outposts. You own your blog, so it should be at the core of what you do. Publish on your own blog and then link to those posts on LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, etc. Increasingly, thought leaders today are also publishing long-form content on Medium and LinkedIn, but I believe you still need a hub.

Learn more at my next social media workshop.

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