Social media time shock strategies

This is Part 4 of my interview with Dr. Ben Hanna, former eBay exec, online marketing pioneer and VP of Business.com.
Part 1: Four breakthrough Twitter insights
Part 2: Essential B2B social media start-up strategies
Part 3: Developing a social media strategy when the rules aren’t clear

One of the things most people learn is the tremendous amount of time it takes to effectively manage a social media campaign. How are you personally managing the time shock on top of your other traditional marketing duties?

Just like SEO, social media has a reputation as being “free” but both require a significant, ongoing time commitment to deliver a tangible impact on the business. The short answer to your question is that it is possible to manage the social media time commitment through a combination of pre-launch research, clear focus on goals and active project prioritization.

We researched the current state of B2B social media before we launched our blogs and Twitter accounts, and the time commitment issue came through loud and clear – the B2B social media success stories involved dedicated, consistent focus on initiatives over time, and the complaints about social media not working typically involved one shot campaigns which didn’t work as intended or consumed time/resources far beyond their value.

With about two FTEs worth of time to dedicate to the effort, and knowing the risk of over-commitment, we chose to launch a blog and Twitter account for each side of our business — @whatworks and the What Works for Business blog for general business challenges/solutions, and @B2BOnlineMktg and the B2B Online Marketing blog for B2B online marketing challenges/solutions. We felt we could learn most quickly by comparing performance of the blogs and Twitter accounts but, if driving immediate business results was more important, we would have focused more narrowly.

After launching our social media initiative, clear focus on goals and active project prioritization kept the time commitment manageable (with an emphasis on the “manageable” part – there are still times where the team and I have no choice but to power through an unforeseen time sink).

For example, it quickly became clear that the What Works for Business blog was performing much better in organic search results than the B2B Online Marketing blog, one reason being 2-3 new posts per day for What Works for Business vs. one post per week for the other blog. It’s easy to look at that as a problem and start putting in the considerable extra time necessary to keep both blogs at 2-3 posts per day. Our goal, however, wasn’t to maintain performance parity between the blogs, or hit certain performance targets in the initial phase – it was to learn from the differences between the blogs. Seeing how content volume can affect organic search performance is valuable input for future project planning and resource allocation, but it isn’t a “problem” to get sucked into fixing at this point.
Tomorrow: The final part of our interview — The next evolution of B2B marketing

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