I hear from small businesses all the time that they don't have time to engage on social media. Many executives of large companies don't participate at all, leaving social interactions to junior staff in their marketing department, often citing lack of time or know-how as main reasons for their avoidance.
However, it's important for leaders to take part in social media, whether you own a small business or run a large corporation.
People (potential customers) like to connect with and hear directly from a company's leadership. The personalities behind a brand are often of more interest than the brand itself.
Here are some of my favourite social media tools that help me save time, share effectively and expand my reach.
One of the great advantages of this tool is that you can post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare and other social-media profiles at the same time. While it is best to customize your message to individual audiences on each social-media platform, sometimes, this time-saving feature is really handy to have.
Very few business owners or executives have time to tweet and post to Facebook during the workday. I tend to catch up late at night when everyone else is sleeping, so it makes little sense to post messages then.
It's like picking up the phone to talk to people when there's no one on the other end.
Real-time engagement is still best, but HootSuite can be used to pre-schedule messages and replies during times that I know my audience is listening.
You can use the bulk-message uploader to schedule days or even weeks of posts in advance.
And, if you don't know the best time to post to your audience, use the autoschedule tool.
It uses certain algorithms to automatically figure out when you will get the most reach depending on whether you're posting to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other social-media platforms. Free, pro and enterprise versions are available.
JustUnfollow is a simple application for unfollowing Twitter users who do not follow you back. The tool also helps you identify accounts that are inactive (i.e., have not tweeted in three months or one month).
You want to make room for people who are actively sharing good content and are connected with you.
The other great feature is that it allows you to copy followers from another account. So, if I'm going to speak at an event for an organization, I can go and easily follow its followers and engage with that audience online before the in-person event. There is a free and pro version.
This free tool automatically finds and aggregates articles, photos and videos from people you put on your Twitter lists and publishes them daily and tweets to your followers at a time you pre-schedule. This is a great way to share other people's content that you like to follow in a customized, newspaper format.
Rebelmouse is another aggregator that takes all your social pictures and videos and posts them to a web page.
Take a business card, snap a picture of it with your phone's camera and the contact information is transcribed accurately, verified by a human and sent back to your mobile device as a contact you can store.
Since LinkedIn bought the business card-transcription service in January 2011, the service is now free. No more having to spend time manually entering contacts into Outlook or your phone.
I use .TEL as a communications' hub to integrate all my social media links and other contact information.
At an event, people want to connect with you in different ways.
Some want your Twitter profile, some like to connect on LinkedIn and others prefer Google+. I tell them all to go to Cybele.tel, and all my details are there.
I see this more like a digital business card than a domain name. Optimized for mobile, anyone who has your .TEL automatically has your most up-to-date information for life.
It has a place for my picture or logo, a map of my location and a keyword section that allows me to optimize my .TEL so that it can be found based on search terms I enter myself.
With the ability to store up to 3,000 pages, it is a super-sized business card or directory that packs a lot of punch.
A .TEL isn't free but if you want to try it out, Webnames.ca is offering a free one-year .TEL registration to the first 1,000 BIV readers who request one.
Go to www.webnames.ca/BIV and provide your name and email in the request form and a redemption code for a one-year .TEL will be sent to you within 24 hours. Limit one free .TEL per individual or company •