One thing that most every business owner complains about with social media marketing is the time it takes to do it effectively. While it’s a bad idea to completely automate your social media marketing, there are plenty of short-cuts and automation tools that significantly cut down on your screen time.

Regardless of whether you’re a tech-head or bordering on Luddite, here are six tools that can help free up your time, as well as my tried-and-true techniques to increase your effectiveness with content marketing, in far less time.

Revive old post to revive your old content

This free WordPress plugin has single-handedly reduced the time I spend on Twitter. Set-up your plugin with how often you want your blogs tweeted, and it’ll cycle through your blog posts, tweeting your headline and link (with link shortener, using whatever service you wish), using your blog categories as hashtags.

Why you’ll love it: Having invested significant time and effort into each and every blog, you want those pieces to keep working for you, to drive eyeballs back to your website, for many years to come. Revive Old Post will ensure your blogs continue to get distributed and ushering in new readers for many years to come, with no effort by you. Winning.
Set-up time: 10 minutes
Time saved: About 30 minutes a week, every week
Cost: $0

Shareaholic to amplify your web pages

In the past I used ‘AddThis’ and ‘ShareThis’, but then I discovered Shareaholic, and haven’t looked back. Shareaholic quickly and easily adds social media share buttons to your site to encourage your web visitors to share your pages.

With a range of options to choose from and nifty little features like ‘share within’ which automatically brings up related pages and posts at the end of each page or post, to keep people on your site for longer, and floating share buttons (like you see on the left side of this page), Shareaholic is a no-brainer if you want you site to be as visible as possible.

Why you’ll love it: There are just enough features and choices to still keep it easy to set-up.
Set-up time: Depends on your competence and whether or not you sign up for a Shareaholic account to access more features and customisations. Let’s say 30 minutes.
Time saved: Significant! (I remember the days when we used to have to copy and paste code onto each and every web page.)
Cost: $0

Buffer for social media management

Buffer social mediaBuffer lets you manage multiple social media accounts from the one place (except Instagram). With a few clicks, you can send the one update to multiple places, measure your clicks, add images and formatting.

RSS feeds are a nifty feature, bringing your favourite relevant website feeds into Buffer so that, with a few clicks, you can share these blogs with your social media networks.

You can either set up each of your social media accounts to publish updates at particular intervals and times of the day you’ve specified, or you can leave that to Buffer to choose the most optimal time. Considering the reach and access to social media statistics that Buffer has as a byproduct of offering social media scheduling, unless you’re a total data nerd or want to post at the same time every day, it’s best to leave this in Buffer’s capable (virtual) hands.

Why you’ll love it: Its interface is clean and easy.
Set-up time: 30-60 minutes depending on how many channels you’ve got and how much you want to customize your post times.
Time saved: Incalculable! Seriously. If you’ve got Facebook, plus another account which isn’t Instagram, you’ll save incredible time, effort and headspace scheduling ahead.
Cost: $0

Tweet This

Tweet-thisAnother free WordPress plugin, Tweet This allows you to embed Tweets within the body of your posts or pages to encourage people to share as they’re reading. I’ve noticed a significant increase in people tweeting my posts since using this.

Why you’ll love it: You can pull out the most searing insights (Or your favourite sentence) within your post to highlight. You’ll need to ensure that sentence is short, which means you’re forced to engage your best editing skills.
Set-up time: One minute to install.
Time saved: The effort of setting this up (one single minute) is far out-weighted by the increase in tweets promoting your blogs.
Cost: $0.

Facebook Page plugin to encourage new fans

You’ve got people on your site, looking to bookmark or stay in touch. Some won’t be ready yet to give over their email address. So how do they stay in touch? The Facebook Page Plugin enables you to bring your Facebook page inside your website, encouraging your web visitors to ‘like’ your page or interact with your posts without – and here’s the clincher – leaving your site.

It requires a little bit of code taken from Facebook and inserted into your site. Easy if you know what you’re doing, not so much if you don’t.

Why you’ll love it: It’s an easy way to grow your Facebook page.
Set-up time: 10 minutes if you’re tech-literate, or simply give the code to your web designer to do.
Time saved: Who knows? You’re encouraging your web visitors to like your Facebook page without having them leave your site.
Cost: $0.

SumoMe for pop-ups

Okay, so it’s not strictly social media marketing, but rather increasing email sign-ups on your site. Then again, you’ve worked hard using social media to develop rapport and invite people back to your site, so you want them to sign up for your email communications.

There are plenty of different website pop-ups you can use (and I’ve used a few), but I love SumoMe for several reasons: it’s free, easy to connect to your email marketing tool provider, it collects statistics, and your message and colours are customisable. Plus, it’s mobile-responsive, which means your mobile site won’t look godawful when someone gets your pop-up on mobile.

People have a love-hate relationship with pop-ups and this is not the article for debating the pros and cons. Needless to say, I use them because they work for me.

Why you’ll love it: It’s easy to use, customizable, and free.
Set-up time: About 20 minutes.
Time saved: Incalculable.
Cost: $0.

Pulling it all together

Some of these automation tools require set-up time; some require ongoing time every week, fortnight or month.

Social media set-up

  • Set up Revive Old Post, Tweet This, Facebook Page Plugin, and Shareaholic on your WordPress website.
  • Set up your Buffer account and link all your social media accounts (including any Facebook Groups you manage).
  • Set up your SumoMe account, design your pop-up and link it to your email marketing tool.

Take some time to go back over

  • Set aside some time to go back to your old blog posts (and key sales pages) to add ‘Tweet this’ tweets within, or at the bottom.
  • While you’re there, you can check out how Shareaholic is looking on each blog post, especially if you’re using the ‘link within’ feature.

Regular social media scheduling

  • At the same time every week – perhaps Friday afternoon, perhaps Wednesday afternoon – set aside 30-60 minutes to schedule your next week’s worth of social media updates.
  • This is also the time to revisit favourite websites, read articles you’ve bookmarked for possible inclusion, and recycle your blog post headlines that didn’t make the final cut (some people will respond better to one or another headline, both linking to the same blog post on your site).
  • Reduce the amount of time you spend scrolling, scrolling, by always seeking to update, comment, like, respond. In other words – be seen! After all, we’re here for marketing and nobody sees you lurking.

Periodic reviews

  • Schedule a regular every week, month or quarter, depending on your social media marketing goals, to review your social media marketing.
  • Review your progress by your goals. Ensure your goals translate to your bigger business goals.
  • While a minimum number of social media fans is recommended to help your business appear credible, be very careful about using ‘vanity metrics’ that don’t translate into bigger, strategic goals. Remember, you’re in business, not high school. This isn’t a popularity contest.

Finally, many of us enjoy social media for its own sake. But a busy business person can’t lose hours in social media if you’re hoping to stay afloat. Use time-boxing to give yourself time to enjoy social media – and then get off again! If you need some help in the ‘getting off’ part, I recommend SelfControl (for when we have none).