You've got limited hours in a day. All these people talking about blogging and Facebook pages and Twitter and all this other stuff aren't exactly explaining how you're going to get that all done and still find time to sell to customers, handle customer service, and get home in time to see the kids. Everyone's mileage will vary, but today, I'll give you a different way to look at mixing a little bit of social media into your day.
Your Basic Frame
There are three basic components to social media: listening, creating, and communicating. That's it. Listening is how you find out what people are saying about you, your competitors, your community, and whatever else matters. Creating is where you make blog posts or shoot video, or build upon ideas that show you're a thought leader in the space. Communicating is a mix of commenting, responding, reaching out, and taking part in community.
Draw your pie as a circle, and realize that you'll be cutting it into three.
Set up a free listening station (see grow bigger ears to learn how), and start listening to the way people are talking about you online. If you have a little budget, buy one of the better listening software tools like Radian6, ScoutLabs, Spiral16, or another (there are dozens). If you're spending 2 hours a day on social media, spend about 24 minutes on listening.
Let's use this term loosely. You might spend some of your time writing blog posts. You might take photos of your customers, or your products, or whatever, and put them on Flickr. Creating might mean making products or handouts or other things that give your customers something more than what they get from the primary purchase. But spend 48 minutes of your two hours creating.
Here is where we put everything from email to tweeting to leaving comments on other people's blogs, responding to comments on your blog, It means participating in forums and other places where your customers, prospects, and others important to your ecosystem spend their time. And by communicating, let me be very clear that I don't really mean selling your product. I mean selling you as a person that people want to do business with. You can ask for the sale, but not as part of this. This amount of time, the other 48 minutes if you're using two hours, is about connecting and making relationships better.
Spice Your Pie to Taste
With regards to all the above, bear in mind that there are many ways to the finish line. Maybe you don't want to create as much. Maybe you don't have two hours. You can tweak it a bit. But starting with a pie and starting with these three slices, you can take the opportunity to work on a formula. I didn't talk about your traditional media efforts: the newspaper, radio, wherever else you're spending your money. We didn't talk about your newsletter (creating). But I bet you can see where this overlays that.
In the end, your social media pie's what you make of it. Shake a little bit of your own perspective onto this. Think about what you want. And get the fork out. Pie waits for no one.