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Social Media Marketing in 30 Minutes a Day

An interview with marketing professional and author Susan Gunelius.

We asked a recent college grad: “If you had to suggest some brief but effective social marketing strategies for e-merchants, what would you recommend?”

His response: “I’m not really that into social media anymore.”

Were we surprised? Yes and no. Yes, because you would think a 20-something would still be into social media—at least Facebook. And no, because we’ve been hearing more and more that social media isn’t growing at the rate it was, and interest—especially in Facebook—may be leveling off.

Maybe interest is leveling off (those growth rates couldn’t continue forever anyway), but the story’s far from over. As an e-merchant, you know you can’t completely disregard Facebook, Twitter, or even LinkedIn and Pinterest to help market yourself and your business. If you do, you can be sure some of your competitors are using these sites quite effectively, and capturing some business that may have otherwise gone your way.

As with so many things, it may boil down to time. Assuming you feel you can’t just ignore social media altogether, what are some things you can do at your convenience, perhaps using only 30 minutes a day, to stay active?

To look into this, we spoke with Susan Gunelius, author of the book 30-Minute Social Media Marketing: Step-by-step Techniques to Spread the Word About Your Business. She had some great advice to share, not only in her book, but through a bonus chapter available for free on the Web, which we’ll discuss after the interview.

Schepp: Let’s assume The Online Seller’s readers know quite a bit about Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the rest. Is there a 30-minute strategy that will yield the greatest social marketing bang for their buck and, if so, what steps should readers take to implement them?

“What you spend time on depends on your goals, your business, your customers, your competitors and the environments you operate in”

Gunelius: There is no one 30-minute strategy that’s a recipe for success. What you spend time on depends entirely on your goals, your business, your customers, your competitors and the entire micro- and macro-environments that you operate in. I’d be doing some businesses a disservice by offering a single set of steps that “yield the greatest bang for your buck,” because there isn’t one.

Having said that, I do have a free bonus chapter that’s not in the book, available on my website, that can help a business get up and running in social media in one month. It includes a variety of “starter” tasks and many—but not all—can be done in 30 minutes each day. Once a business is up and running on social media, it’s easier to spend 30 minutes per day, but first, they have to get set up.

Schepp: Once I’ve gotten these strategies underway, assuming I only have 30 minutes or so to work on my social marketing each day, what should I be doing?

Gunelius: Divide your time between creating interesting, useful content that your target audience will find meaningful, sharing content that other people publish that your target audience would find meaningful, conversing with members of your audience and online influencers, and being active on the social Web. There is no single solution for success, and by providing one in my response, I’d be leading many people down what could be the wrong path for their businesses.

Schepp: How useful do you think Pinterest is for e-merchants, and how should they be using it?

Gunelius: First, it’s important to understand that while Pinterest has grown to over 10 million users and over 26 million visitors per month, the site is still used by an audience that includes a majority (over 70 percent) of women between the ages of 25 and 34. If your customers aren’t on Pinterest, then there are better places for you to spend time.

With that said, visuals can build a deeper emotional connection between brands and consumers, which is a key component of growing a business. Suffice it to say Pinterest should be on your radar and, if your customers match the current demographic, you should consider bumping it up on your list of social media priorities.

Schepp: Is there anything you’d like to add? Perhaps a particularly powerful 30-minute task that most people aren’t doing?

“Don’t sell. Instead, provide meaningful content and build long-term relationships that lead to word-of-mouth marketing and brand loyalty, and transcend short-term promotions”

Gunelius: Focus less on quantity and more on quality. That’s where the power of social media marketing comes from—long-term, organic and sustainable growth derived from quality content and conversations. Leverage free tools to streamline tasks so you can surround consumers with your branded content and allow them to self-select how they want to interact with your brand. Don’t sell. Instead, provide meaningful content and build long-term relationships that lead to word-of-mouth marketing and brand loyalty, and transcend short-term promotions.

Schepp: Finally, according to your website, you’ve written quite a few books that would interest e-commerce merchants. Aside from the one we’ve been discussing, what other book would you recommend they read?

Gunelius: I would recommend Content Marketing for Dummies.

Here are a few sample social marketing challenges Gunelius presents in her bonus chapter:

  1. Interlink your various branded online destinations. For example, place social media icons in your blog’s sidebar connecting to your profiles. Place Twitter and Facebook widgets on your blog, and add the Facebook Like button to your website and blog. Feed your blog content to your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, pages and groups, and vice versa. Make sure your website, blog and social media links are provided in your various social media profiles, so it’s always easy to find your branded destinations, particularly your core branded destination.

  2. Search for people to connect with on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook by researching who your competitors are already connected to. Connect with at least 20 more key users per site based on your findings. Begin interacting with those people immediately.

  3. Find at least one online forum community that is active and attracts your target audience. Join that forum and get involved in the conversations happening there by joining conversations started by other members and publishing new messages to start your own discussions. Be sure to include links to your branded online destinations in your forum signature.

About the author

Brad & Debra Schepp
Brad and Debra Schepp are the authors of 20 books, including eBay PowerSeller Secrets and The Official Success Guide: Insider Tips and Strategies for Sourcing Products from the World's Largest B2B Marketplace. Their most recent book is How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Brad is also a literary agent for Waterside Productions. For further information, visit the couple's website, Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • What excites me about social media/network for businesses is that the contacts, conversations, sharing, stories and relationship building can mean conversions to active partnerships, sales, and business growth; as well as a way to establish community and credibility. 

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