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I hear three main problems people have with starting a social networking marketing program. Maybe you can relate to these…

“I don’t know how to get started.”
The internet is filled to the gills with information, including millions of pages explaining how to start social networking programs. The issue isn’t not having the information, it’s not having JUST the simple steps in an easy to follow order. I developed SNP just to solve this problem.

“Sure it’s fun, but I don’t see how it will help me get more business”
I have three words for you… Top of Mind. While social networking sites are generally a poor place to outright sell, they’re a great way to keep yourself and your business in front of 100’s of people. When a friend of one of those people asks about (insert your business category here), your name is top of mind. This is why social networking works for promoting your business.

“I don’t have time.”
You’ve probably seen your child/spouse/friend/etc. spend hours a day on Facebook, or Myspace. It’s easy feel like it takes too much time. The truth is a social networking program can be run quickly and efficiently. By the end of this article, I hope you see how you can run your whole social networking marketing efforts in less than 2 hours per week.

In order to run your social networking in less than 2 hours per week, you need to use the following techniques.

1) Batching:
The most common mistake people make in running their social networking program, is answering questions and invites when they come in. This adds a huge amount of time to your day. It takes just as long to accept one friend request as ten.

TIP: Ignore the email, and use the inboxes at the social networking site. You can actually delete the invites coming to your email, and just check the inbox at your Facebook, Linkedin, etc.

2) Automation:
While there are many tools to automate your efforts, one of the best is ping.fm. This tool will allow you to update your status on several sites at once. You can see a video for this by clicking here.

3) Focus:
Doesn’t seem like every time you turn around there’s another social networking site? While certainly some have neat new features and interesting twists, I suggest that you focus on the big three. In my eyes those are Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter. If you feel like expanding your time commitment to try new ones, that’s fine, but don’t spread yourself so thin that you can’t effectively use those three tools.

Here are a couple of different plans for running your program within the 2 hour timeframe.

Plan A:

Each Day:

  • Update your status 2-3 times
    It takes less than 1 minute to update your status, and remember you are using ping.fm to do all of the sites at once.

  • Check the inboxes at Linkedin and Facebook, accept invites as appropriate
  • Check Facebook and Linkedin to see if they are suggesting any friends/links that you know
  • Time permitting:
    • Facebook: review wall for interesting things people are doing and comment
    • Linkedin: Review questions and see if you can answer any in your industry
    • Twitter: Check replies and reply to any that are interesting

    Once a week:

  • Invite new contacts to Linkedin and Facebook:
    You can take all of your emails from new contacts, as well as business cards, and any other new contacts you’ve had since the last time you invited people, add them to an Excel sheet. This allows you to enter the information once and import it into each place. Click here for a video that shows you how to create import files using either Excel or Google Docs, and then how to import those into Facebook and Linkedin.

    NOTE: Unless you’re a really slow typist, or you have a lot of new contacts per week, this can be accomplished in 20 minutes per week, however it may take a bit longer while you’re learning.

    Plan B:

    Each Day:

    • Update your status 2-3 times
      It takes less than 1 minute to update your status, and remember you are using ping.fm to do all of the sites at once.

    1-2 Times a Week:
  • Check the inboxes at Linkedin and Facebook, accept invites as appropriate
  • Check Facebook and Linkedin to see if they are suggesting any friends/links that you know
  • Invite New Contacts
  • Time permitting:
    • Facebook: review wall for interesting things people are doing and comment
    • Linkedin: Review questions and see if you can answer any in your industry
    • Twitter: Check replies and reply to any that are interesting

    Plan A will allow for a more hands on approach, however Plan B probably will result in getting more done, as you’re batching everything more effectively.

    Timing
    Other than efficient use of time, you can also effectively use your energy. In other words, social networking is something you can do at the end of the day, when your energy and creativity may not be ample for more intensive projects. I would suggest that you block out the time you’ll spend for social networking (other than status updates), for a block of time when you normally have difficulty focusing.

    Hopefully this is enough information to help you easily run your social networking marketing campaign in less than 2 hours per week. If you have any questions or comments I would love to hear from you.

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