Running your own business is exhausting. There are countless demands on your time and it can be a struggle just to keep all the cogs turning. Then, when someone tells you that beyond paying your bills, getting new clients, and making a living, you “have to have” an active social media presence. BAM! It can seem like a slap in the face and a completely unnecessary waste of time. How could Facebook be more important than closing a new client? How can Twitter outweigh being able to pay your bills?

Truthfully, social media is not that important. Sure, it’s a good idea, but your company won’t fail without a social presence. In fact, you could get away without social media for a solid chunk of time. However, I wouldn’t recommend it. While social media is not as important as so many other tasks, you need to transform your view. It’s not just something you complete in your free time. Social media is the new form of advertisement and it’s one of the best ways to prove your legitimacy to potential customers.

Unfortunately, social media can also be incredibly time consuming. I won’t deny that it can be a time suck, eating away at every free moment. That’s why it’s important to prepare yourself and make a plan. If you don’t know where to start, try the five tips below.

1. Use a content management tool. 

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A tool like Hootsuite, TweetDeck, SproutSocial, and/or Crowdbooster can help make your social media life a lot easier. These tools, whether free or paid, can make it simple to write one piece of content and share it across multiple platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. When you have a limited amount of time, anything that has a sole purpose of simplifying your life is a good bet.

2. Plan your content strategy ahead of time.

Social media is not something that you should just slap together. First of all, slapping anything together actually produces more work in the long run. Secondly, you really won’t see the results you want if you just throw stuff at the wall and hope it sticks. Yes, all advertising and marketing is a little bit of a game of chance. However, a plan can go a long way. It doesn’t have to be detailed either. It can be as simple as a schedule. For example:

  • Monday—Blog and share blog on all social.
  • Tuesday—Book Review and share review on all social.
  • Wednesday—Share a fun fact about writing.
  • Thursday—Blog and share blog on all social.
  • Friday—Book Review and share review on all social.
  • Saturday—Share a quote about social media marketing.
  • Sunday—Share an interactive, question post.

The schedule above may not be very intricate or the perfect option, but it’s a great place to get started when you’re on a limited schedule.

3. Create a dedicated time/day for your social media each week.

Ideally, you would give your social media a little love every day, but we all know that’s not always possible. If it’s just me, myself, and I running a business, I don’t have the opportunity to give an hour or more a day to social media. Instead, I plan to spend my Monday mornings completing all of my social media for the week. If that’s not possible, then I give an hour Monday morning, an hour Tuesday morning, and an hour Wednesday morning to punch out my blogs, reviews, and social media posts and that’s it. Then, I don’t have to worry about it later in the day or for the remainder of the week.

4. Hire an individual or company to run your social media for you.

If you have extra money but not extra time, this could be a great option. Even if you don’t have a large budget, there are countless freelancers and small firms that would be happy to help you create your weekly content. If you don’t want or need to go that far, there are thousands of bloggers who would love to help write your weekly blogs, which should provide you with plenty of fodder for social media content. Even a budget of just a few hundred a week should be enough to get you started and then as your company grows, you can grow your social media presence.

5. Review what your competitors are doing and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Social media is extremely unique. It’s forgiving and unforgiving all at the same time. While terrible mistakes and inappropriate content can last forever, unsuccessful ideas and campaigns are extremely fleeting. Always review what you post and make sure that if it goes viral and lasts forever, you’re proud of your work. However, don’t be afraid to make small mistakes and try things that may not work. If you run a giveaway and no one enters, it’s not a big deal. Scratch it and try again on something new. If your content series isn’t read by anyone, that’s completely fine. Throw it out and try a new content series. And if you’re out of new ideas, copy a competitor. Don’t steal their content, but take their ideas and make them your own. It works.

At the end of the day, as an entrepreneur you need to give yourself a break. You can’t do it all and it’s okay to do some things a little half-ass. As long as you keep it up and slowly work to improve, you’ll get where you need to be.