I love this article about how much time and money small businesses spend on social media. Here are a few highlights:

  • The majority (43 percent) of small businesses spend about 6 hours per week on social media (about the equivalent of one whole workday?)
  • 55 percent of small businesses have blogs…and the average post takes about 1-3 hours to create?
  • Most post on Facebook and Twitter several times of week…Pinterest and LinkedIn? Not so much.
  • $26 is the minimum that most small businesses pay per month on social media tools (such as content publishers and analytics).

Keep in mind that social media use, reliance upon, advertising and analytics are consistently increasing. Because finding and posting content takes up the most time here are a few ideas to help you be more efficient at it:

  • Sign up for industry newsletters, thought leaders, Google alerts, or Flipboard to receive notifications about topical content that you can share. Remember to include your own perspective on the content you are sharing to help personalize it.
  • Search using specific keywords or hashtags. You can do this on LinkedIn, Facebook, SlideShare, Twitter, or YouTube to find the latest or most popular articles, videos, and infographics.
  • Hire an outside content writer. This can help stick to a schedule, but make sure they understand your industry and can write in your brand voice. Also make sure you understand their terms on ghostwriting and repurposing the content. Can they submit ‘your’ article to another client? Are you able to take that article and repurpose it into other content for your company?
  • Use curation tools like Buffer or Alltop. These tools gather content from various sources allowing you to share a variety of content. Be careful, some charge for their service others may be free, but attach ads to the information you are sharing.
  • Leverage guest contributors. Feature someone who also works in your industry, but not for your company. They may have different views from you and could reduce the workload in creating content. The challenge is they need to create content for their own company too so reliability could be tough.
  • Leverage your employees. You have amazing talented people working for you. Encourage them to write posts that fit within a range of topics. This will allow you to feature the amazing team that you have as well as offer different voices on your area of expertise. It will also help personalize your brand.
  • Create your own. This should be obvious and it goes along with leveraging your employees. Custom-brand-specific content is a must if you don’t want to be perceived as a “me-too” brand.

While these ideas are intended to help you be more efficient at finding and posting content, if you notice responding to others content takes the least amount of time. When done correctly, it also positions you as an authority on the topic. Here is the formula:

  • Compliment or agree with the author or original poster in some way.
  • Respectfully disagree with the author or original poster in some way.
  • Offer an alternative view or ask a question.

Let’s say you read a “Top 10” article. Your comment could be something like “Amy I really like tip four. Everyone in my company operates from this perspective. Tip seven though has never worked for me. Every time I have tried to use it, it feels like world is going to come crashing down. Have you come across anyone else with this experience?”

Remember everything you do online is intended to start or continue and existing conversation and you’ll build more relationships faster when you engage with others. So create your social media base and spend the majority of your time commenting on and engaging with others to turn your fans, followers, and connections into paying clients.