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Businesses actively using social media stand to gain many benefits.  Outlets like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin create a communication channel to and from your business where people can connect on a non-business level.  Through social media your network can interact with you, express their views and opinions, and ultimately connect with your business at a time that’s convenient for them.

But it goes both ways.  Not only do consumers have a comfortable social channel to connect with a business, businesses can gain excellent insight into their consumers.  Comments made on your business' posts can reveal how people view your business.  Do they like the content you share?  Are they sharing positive experiences or venting their frustrations?  They may even share suggestions on what they wish your business offered; an extremely powerful insight!

Ultimately, social media can help a business understand if they are creating raving fans or frustrated customers, on a “real time” basis.   Knowing this, a business gains direct insight into the minds of their followers and their reputation.

The potential benefits of actively using social media are outstanding...  But comes at a price.  Actively using social media means consistently adding content, responding to comments and posts, and listening to what your followers are saying.  The only way to accomplish this is through monitoring your social media channels which takes time.

But just by following a few simple guidelines, monitoring your social media presence doesn’t have to consume all of your time.  Here are five steps you can take to effectively monitor your business’ social media presence in only 10 minutes a day.

1. Set A Schedule:  Social media has a tendency to draw you in for extended amounts of time. You may have planned to only check a couple of things on Facebook and log off.  Next thing you know it is 30 minutes later and you’re still scrolling away. 

Choose a certain part of the day.  We recommend the morning, but it's more important to pick a time that works for you and stick to it.  When that time comes stop whatever you are doing and go through the steps below. You only have 10 minutes to complete them.

This step is a precursor to the actual activities, but it's every bit as important.  Your schedule is the backbone of your social media monitoring success.

2. Check Twitter Chatter (3 minutes):  Log in to Twitter and check chatter about your company as well as competitors.  Retweet or favorite positive and insightful tweets. Comment on any tweets that require it. Twitter keeps everything to 140 characters or less so time management is almost built in to Twitter. You can also save streams in Twitter or use a tool like TweetDeck to increase efficiency.

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3. Facebook Overview (3 minutes):  Log in to Facebook and scan through the comments.  'Like' positive and insightful comments.  Check your private messages and make note of any that need to be responded to.  If a private message requires a detailed response, schedule that for another time of the day.  Remember this is social media monitoring time.  Responses may require research, additional details and, most importantly, more time.  Save it for later.

Also check your Facebook Insights page to get a general idea of your business page's activity.  Don't go in depth here.  Look for trends such as new 'Likes' and post reach. 

4. Scan Google Alerts (2 minutes):  Google alerts can send you a notification if your business name gets published online.  It most commonly shows blog posts or comments where your business is mentioned or a link to your business is posted.  Google alerts will also show posts on Quora as well as website pages where your business is mentioned.

It's important to remember to scan Google alerts.  Don't read entire articles. Take note of how your business is mentioned, who is mentioning it, and if any action should be taken on your part.  Again, if detailed responses are required make note of it.  You can respond with thought and detail later.  Stick to monitoring.

5. Linkedin Quick Look (2 minutes):  There are two areas to scan in LinkedIn.  First, check your company page and look for new comments.  Next, scan your group digest.  As you do this, if you can make a very quick comment do so.  Make sure it's quick and do it when it is industry related and showcases your business expertise.

Social media is powerful, but effectively managing it can be daunting.  Use the tips above and be conscience of your social media monitoring.  Don't get stuck in Twitter or lost on Facebook.  Use them as marketing tools to grow your business, and not as ways to kill time.  The result is a more effective, visible business that better understands its customers.

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