Save time: understand the 4 key ways to manage social media

Managing social media can be a real drain. Whether that’s maintaining a reliable output of good content or handling incoming enquiries, sometimes it feels there just isn’t enough time in the day.

If you’re supporting more than one or two social channels then you’ll quickly find there isn’t enough time in the night either!

You need a plan

One way to think about it is to look at using different strategies for different priorities. Some aspects of your social media presence can be automated.

I use a planning grid to help me think about how we manage our social media.

The planning grid works as follows: for the rows you list all the channels you want to have a social media presence on; then for the columns you list the way in which you will engage. The options are Manual, Semi-Automatic, Automatic and Community .

Four different engagement approaches

The different engagement approaches are as follows:

  • Manual – you will engage yourself, directly using the tools to create content and converse with followers (this is the most popular way to use social media as it’s how we use social media as consumers with our friends)
  • Semi-Automatic – you have automated some aspects of your social media posting but not the whole post process (you send tweaked tweets via Leaderboarded,  you use Klout to schedule posts for the following week or you’ve hired an agency to do some  retweeting or blog posting for you)
  • Automatic – this is a fully automatic production of content (using 12starsocial to auto DM a new follower or using to publish a newspaper for you each day made up from tweets of those you are following).
  • Community run – the most advanced form of social media management – here your followers are engaging with each other to produce content and answer each other’s questions. If you’ve got a vibrant Get Satisfaction community, a LinkedIn group  or a weekly leaderboard around a popular hashtag then you’ve already achieved this.

The grid

Now we’re skilled up and understand the 4 different engagement approaches lets lay them out on a planning grid:


Manual Semi Auto Automatic Community

Create posts

Auto post any comments


Create linked in updates

Auto share new blog articles

Self sustaining LinkedIn Group


Reply to questions

Use Klout to schedule daily tweets

Auto DM new followers a link to an e-book

Leaderboard of a top community hashtag


None Auto share new blog articles

As you can see from this grid – we’re still doing a lot of manual work around content creation but by automatically posting links to blog articles on Twitter and Facebook we’ve at least automated some of the work we need to do.

The planning grid helps spot some ‘quick wins’ where automation is both acceptable and useful for our follower group – Twitter followers do appreciate a link to  a new blog post for example.

Before we go, don’t forget

Managing your social media effectively shouldn’t be rocket science:

  • most businesses are already automating some aspects of their social media
  • the more activities you have towards the right hand columns (Automatic / Community) – the more time you will save
  • there is no one size fits all strategy – automating social media has to be done very carefully for fear of alienating your audience (most of whom will see it as a purely manual medium)
  • automation in general is coming (it has too otherwise the ROI on social media effort will remain poor)
  • social media itself is a machine (Facebook’s Edge Rank does the editorial work for 1 billion news feeds)

I hope this saves you some time. Feel free to post some comments (I promise it’ll be the real me that replies….)



Marketme is a leading small business to small business news, marketing advice and product review website. Supporting business across the UK with sponsored article submissions and promotions to a community of over 50,000 on Twitter.