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One of the biggest complaints I hear related to marketing on Facebook is that “it takes WAY too much time.” This is probably the most frequent concern and fear I hear from small business owners.  It’s true that it can be a major time-suck IF you let it be—but you should know that it doesn’t HAVE to be.

Taming the Monster

You need to be a little bit ruthless with yourself, especially if you are using Facebook for both business and keeping up with friends and family.  People aren’t kidding when they say it can be addictive.  But if you’re avoiding Facebook because of these fears about it taking too much time, you’re really missing out on important networking opportunities and conversations.

This post will give you some tips and suggestions for how to really leverage your time and the strategies you can implement and focus on.  (As opposed to going in and sort of aimlessly poking around trying to figure out how anyone’s ever going to find out about your business and how you might be able to help them.)

It sounds obvious, but the biggest thing to understand is WHY you are there.  What is your strategy?  What are your goals or purpose?  Again, if you don’t know WHY you are there, it becomes a lot easier to waste time kind of aimlessly floating around.

What can you do instead?  First and foremost, alter your notification settings under “Account Settings” and “Notifications.”  Turn most of the notifications off.  You want to come to Facebook for a set amount of time and if you are getting notifications in your email about every time someone interacts with your profile you will get way too distracted because it’s tempting to log on and look.  (By the way, you also want to ignore or block frivolous applications that people want you to add—and it’s perfectly acceptable to do this.)

Facebook in Under 15 Minutes

What specifically can you do to achieve maximum visibility in minimum time?  Definitely update your status regularly.  Skim through the News Feed on the Home page which is composed of all of your friends’ updates.  If something interesting catches your eye, comment on it or hit the “like” button.

Check your Wall and if anyone has commented to you, quickly respond.  On the right hand side of the Home page, see who is having a birthday and wish them a happy one.  On the top right of your Home page, handle any requests you have waiting.  If you are a member of any groups, check in with them to see if there is any activity you can comment on or questions you can answer or ask.

If you have an event going on, such as a workshop or a teleseminar then post that using the Events application.  If you have a blog, I recommend using the “NetworkedBlogs” application to import it.  Every time you publish a new post, it gets published to your profile and this activity gets posted in the News Feed, which means all of your friends see it as well.  You can also use the Notes application to import your blog posts, which then get posted to your Wall.

Content is King

Using social media effectively is all about content.  How do you keep a steady stream of fresh content filling up your profile? One way is to post links to interesting sites or articles you come across by adding the Share on Facebook bookmarklet to your browser.  Say you’re on CNN.com and you want to post a link to a story on Facebook, you can use that bookmarklet to post it automatically—without even needing to sign into your account.

If you use Twitter, install the application on Facebook called “Selective Twitter Status.” The way this works is that anytime you tweet something that you would also like posted to your Facebook status, you simply add a hashtag (which is the pound sign) and the letters “fb” to your tweets.  I like this app better than the regular Twitter one because I don’t always want all of my tweets cluttering up my Facebook profile—plus not everyone on Facebook understands Twitter lingo.

Two other great tools that can really leverage your time are Ping.fm and Hootsuite. These update the status of multiple social networking profiles simultaneously including Facebook so that you don’t even need to go to the actual sites to do so.

I need to emphasize that the News Feed is probably THE most powerful aspect of all of Facebook.  I have heard people refer to it as contributing to “viral visibility” or “ambient awareness” and I love that, because that is exactly what it is.

A Piece of Your Marketing Plan

So, block out time to use Facebook in your schedule.  People laugh, but set a timer if you need to. Think of it as part of your marketing strategy, just as other marketing activities are.  If you are brand new to Facebook, yes, you may need to spend and hour a day getting acclimated and developing your profile in the beginning, but you can really make an impact in much shorter amounts of time once you have gotten used to how it all works.

These are some of the strategies I use in my regular Facebook routine—do you have any to add?  Let me know in the comments.

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