How to use social media when you're too busy to be social

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1.  When you want to do social media but don't have the time, use HootSuite: Seriously, it's  a life saver.  Set up a free account at this web-based social media manager. Load up all of your social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, whatever) and start posting.  The best feature of HootSuite?  You can schedule your posts.  Schedule a few status updates for your business page to post over the weekend or while you're on vacation or even periodically throughout the week so you don't lost interested fans.  Check in once in a while to respond to comments.  Set it and forget it!

2. You don't need to be everywhere. Read this great post about why you don't need to be on Twitter, then stick with the social media that you think really fit your market.  If your customers aren't your fans on Facebook, you probably don't need a page.   Social media isn't right for everyone and every business, and that's ok.  It's not absolutely necessary to succeed.

3. Give yourself a break. Too much posting is just as annoying as a page that hasn't been updated in two months, so ease up.  Let yourself take a few days away without worry.  Jump back in when you're ready and make sure you reply to comments and start conversations.  Set user expectations so that they know not to expect you online all day and night, unless that's what you want to do.

4. Watch your competitors. There are probably a few of your competitors who are doing an awesome job with social media.  They're posting all day, replying on Twitter, starting really cool conversations with industry leaders.  Then, there are probably quite a few who have no social media presence at all.  Which of those competitors are most successful?  You'll probably find a balance.  There are many ways to stay connected to your clients and customers; social media is just another tool in your belt.

5. Enlist help.  Find an employee who has a good handle on social media that can spend 20 minutes a day posting for your business.  Buy a cheap netbook (or maybe an iPad) and let them go at it.  Hand over the reigns. You'll be sharing a much more realistic and genuine view of your business than trying to half-heartedly maintain control doing it yourself.  Give your employees a voice and let them build those relationships.

Business owners wear a lot of hats, and marketing has to be one of them, but no one is expecting you to be perfect.  Do what's best for you, keeping an eye on your competitors, and you'll be fine.

The past few weeks have been really hectic around here, and I'm finding myself letting my social media presence dim a bit.  I know how important it is to keep those relationships going, to be a part of the conversation and to put yourself out there, but I just can't seem to find the time or energy.

I'm stressing about it.

And I hear this from my clients all the time.

I got to reading, and realized that I'm not alone. Social media is just one more thing on our plates; one more tool in our belts.  It's not the make-it-or-break-it key to success that so many evangelists make it out to be.  It can be a very powerful tool if you are able to use it, but there are certainly other tools.

When you're feeling overwhelmed or just tired of being social in social media, here are a few thoughts to help you.

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