Social media doesn't have to be time consuming.

But there's no reason you have to check Twitter every hour. Too many people confuse busyness with effectiveness.

In fact, 10 minutes a day is all it takes to engage with others and grow your followers.

Here's 5 easy things you can start using this week.

 

Twitter Image courtesy of eldh

 

1. Do Less

You can't always get better results with doing more.

So instead, try to do less but focus on the essential.

Your results will skyrocket if you set constraints, like setting a timer for 10 minutes per day, and establish accountability, with time tracking software like RescueTime.

Start by looking at your own daily routines and activities. You're probably wasting hours surfing the net or hanging out on Twitter.

The opportunity cost of that time is huge. For example, instead of hanging out on another Twitter Chat, you should be doing this...

 

2. "Top-Down" Strategy

People think that social media is only about community management.

So they get on Twitter and tweet to an empty room, or try to interject or interrupt others in order to "engage the conversation".

That's a really ineffective use of your time.

A better strategy is to put yourself in a position where others want to contact you - Click to Tweet.

How?

  • Offer to speak for free to local organizations
  • Contribute guest content to other websites
  • Help a nonprofit with their social media strategy
  • Create a free tool, plugin, or theme and email it to relevant bloggers
  • Run a promotion with another brand or blog

The possibilities are only limited to your imagination. But every time the goal is to give freely to people who have influence or control over communities of people.

 

3. Automate

One of the best things about inbound marketing is the tools that help you automate different processes. These tools also help you appear really active.

They will send out a consistent stream of updates through-out the day, night and weekend, giving the appearance that you're always "staying engaged". Here are two of my favorites.

Import the Tweet Old Post WordPress plugin to automatically send out posts from your archives. You can set up the time frequency, add hashtags, or even a brief message before or after each update. You can also specify a date range, so people will only get posts from the past 3 months, or posts from a year ago.

Another useful tool is Twitterfeed, which will send out Tweets automatically from RSS feeds you enter. So you can load your own fee, or your favorite blogs, and it will take care of the work for you.

 

4. Curate

Curating other people's content helps you build thought leadership and can also create reciprocity. And again, there are a variety of tools that make this process instant and pain-free.

Start by grabbing a collection of your favorite blogs and loading them into a RSS reader like Google Reader.

Now you can quickly scan the headlines each day and pick out the best articles to share with everyone else. Then use Timely or Buffer to schedule these updates through-out the day. These tools also help you optimize each update to go out at the best times of the day. That means greater visibility, increased reach, and more click-throughs.

Add a few thoughts to each to personalize your message and show off your personality. Because people on Twitter don't just want to see your links, they want to know why you like it. Then they can emotionally connect with your point of view and leave their own comment.

 

5. Engage

You've removed a lot of the time consuming aspects of Twitter in the first four steps.

What's left is the important part - engaging with other people.

But when you start following hundreds of people, your home stream quickly becomes useless. So start creating Private Lists for the important people you want to connect and stay in touch with. For example, you can have one for "Bloggers & Journalists", one for "Customers/Clients", one for "Friends" and another for "Influencers".

Now every time you login, you'll immediately know what's going on in your important circle of contacts.

And you can spend the bulk of your time communicating and using Twitter for the reason it was created - connecting with other people.