Reality Check: Daily Required Social Media Marketing Activity

I am frequently seeing articles explaining how to do social media marketing in 30 minutes or an hour each day and decided it was time to deliver a reality check. Unless you are a social media “guru”, “author”, “celebrity” or #fauxpert that has never done social media marketing outside of self promotion and has a huge social following, it’s time for a reality check. Any expectation that real results, revenue and return on investment for any SMB or marketer will be achieved by following such advice is foolish thinking.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but effective social media marketing is a detailed combination of technology integration, creativity and a whole lot of activity 24/7. It’s not working when you want, getting weekends off and forgetting to check your feeds, mentions and conversations for days at a time. We call that kind of activity and dedication social networking, not social media.

That’s great if you are an enthusiast that is not using social media channels for marketing, but then again I don’t write for enthusiasts. My articles are always focused on the average brand, SMB, individual marketer and social media agencies. It’s what I know and do, not a hobby or a subject matter I have become known for and use to generate book sales, speaking gigs or ad revenue from blog traffic.

Our goal is to change the message of the industry that is dominated by the folks outlined in the above paragraph into that of real effective use of social media by people who have and actually do it. It’s one thing to consult Starbucks or most other major brands on social media because you sold a ton of books about the subject. It’s another thing to actually create and execute a strategy for the majority that make up social media marketers like small and medium brands or individual marketers and get results. Heck, my 14-year-old daughter could consult Starbucks or most other major brands on their social media marketing. They do it wrong and don’t have to do it right. They have billions in media and marketing dollars that drive their brand on and offline.

While articles that tell you that you can get results with minimal time and effort in social media are incredibly appealing to the masses, I am hear to tell you that it takes work.

*Note – Social media agencies, consultants and coaches – keep reading. There are some reality checks for you as well. :-)

In an effort to both deliver a reality check as well as a real guide of activity, following is a list of SOME daily activities that are required to get results with any social media marketing program.

1) Content Posting: Every day you need to have relevant valuable content for your audience in your stream. Content that gets them to engage, like, comment and share. Not just posts about you or what you do, but information, news and articles your audience will find relevant.

How much content? Here is a basic list of posts per day on a few of the networks you are likely working with:

Twitter – 15-20
Facebook Personal – 4-8
Facebook Page – 3-6
LinkedIn Personal – 5-10
Groups – 1-4
G+ Personal – 10-15
G+ Brand Page – 2-5

Every industry, audience and brand is different, but this will give you a sense of some minimum levels that are required.

2) Content Creation: Like it or not, you have to not only share content relevant to your audience, you also have to create your own content. Blog posts, videos, images, infographics, etc. You can’t lead in an industry where you are not contributing to its message in new ways. This is not an occasional required activity, it’s every single week.

3) YOUR Content Posting: Once you have created content, you need to post it. The good news is that the more content you have created the more content you have available to post daily. I believe content you have created and posts that are about you and what you do should make up about 20% of what you post every day.

4) Content Sharing: Part of social media marketing is sharing other people’s social posts that you and your audience may find interesting and valuable. This serves two purposes;

  1. It delivers additional value to your audience beyond what you found and posted.
  2. It lets others know that you appreciate what they post and wanted to pass it along.

5) Real and Real-Time Posting: These posts are above posting and sharing content and are just about being real, human and approachable. These are often just text and consist of what you are thinking, the weather, where you are and what you are doing. Don’t forget that people connect with people in social media. Don’t be a logo or a robot. Nobody can like or build a relationship with either of those.

6) Community Growth: Every day you need to be growing your community of fans, followers and friends that are your target audience. If you build it they will come doesn’t work in social media. Though doing the above 5 activities every day will help you consistently grow your community, if you are using social media for marketing, that community size needs to increase. Therefore every day you need to be searching and finding your target audience on all of the social networks and connecting with them. Don’t wait for them to find you.

7) Community Outreach: Within your community you need to continually reach out and engage. That is no different from being at a live networking event. You start conversations and get to know them. You share their content and information with others and build a relationship. This must be done daily to be effective with social media marketing.

8) Response/Engage: The opposite of outreach is responding. When someone likes, shares, comments on your posts, acknowledge them, thank them and star a conversation. If someone mentions you in social media, respond.

I have a lot to say about this section, but in order to keep it a blog post and not an article I will say that timing matters. When someone mentions you or comments, they are there, online, right now. Waiting hours or days is missed opportunity and will never see any real results.

9) Follow Backs: When someone follows you on Twitter, Circles you on Google Plus or Friends you on Facebook or Linkedin, you need determine whether you want to reciprocate or accept. I recommend that this is done every single day. We do it twice per day ourselves.

*Tip – if you’re using social media for marketing, follow, friend and connect with those that are your target audience. If you are a restaurant in Tennessee, friending or following someone in the UK doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

10) Data/Statistics: You need to know what is working and what isn’t. Paying attention to your statistics, results, analytics and data on a daily basis is required. Knowing this information enables you to adjust the what’s and when’s of what you are doing and set realistic goals and targets. Not knowing means you are not getting anywhere.

11) Planning/Strategy: Every day you need to be planning and adjusting your strategy. Using what you learn to improve results in social media marketing is no different from anything else in business. Test, measure and adjust… DAILY.

More Reality Checks for Marketers:

So if you think that real, effective social media marketing can actually be accomplished in 30 minutes or an hour per day, I invite you to think again. This is why there are so many social media agencies out there and more popping up every single day. Not too many people have the time, knowledge and ability to execute all of these thins on a daily basis. If you can’t either or are not getting results, I suggest you speak with a qualified social media professional agency as well.

*If you are paying $99/mo for “social media” from some online company, you’re being robbed. It takes far too much time, tools and activities to really do social media marketing right that results in real business.

More Reality Checks for Social Media Agencies:

If your agency is teaching social media marketing instead of doing it, before taking some unsuspecting persons money, be sure they understand what it really takes. Stop taking money from people to teach them things they will never have the time, skill or experience to execute well. Anyway you slice it, it’s stealing…

*As a consultant or agency that teaches social media, the person you teach is rarely the CEO that paid for you. Be aware that the admin, intern or junior employee you train, will soon be in love with social media marketing just like you and will be starting their own agency when their employer pulls the plug. Stop creating competitors for yourself every six months, while making pennies for doing it. Do the hard work for clients and get them real results by delivering effective social media management that has value and recurring revenue.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more required in social media marketing like strategy, targeting, social selling, conversations and more. But true to form, I am not here to condemn or be hurtful. My only goal here is to increase the effectiveness of social media marketing in general and change the message to real results, not scores, followers, likes or speakers. Go do this!


37 thoughts on “Reality Check: Daily Required Social Media Marketing Activity

  1. You nailed it here Robert. I am so tired of hearing how you can participate properly in 30 minutes a day. Simply finding and reading quality content takes more than that. Granted platforms like Bundle Post will help you ease the time burden for posting but it is a time consuming process if it is to be done as more than broadcasting without forethought or care.

  2. Surely it’s slightly more complex than that when considering who to follow back! Most of my audience is in the US even though my business is based in the UK – so if you’re a US based business you still extend your reach in a relevant direction by engaging with me / following me back. And if I’m switched off of your stream because you decided not to follow me back then it’s your potential loss, not mine.

    1. Kittie,

      This is not personal toward you OR the UK. If you’re a local retail SMB your time and efforts are already spread thin. Focusing where and on whom you should is common sense. I would also not recommend a hyper local business do nation radio advertising when again they are local only. It is the exact same thing!

      MY/OUR audience isn’t hyper local so this doesn’t apply. Please take the extreme example for what it is, not a personal attack on anyone, just very smart business.

      1. I wasn’t taking it as a personal attack I was merely pointing out that someone out of your local area might have big reach in your location. It’s not a difficult thing to check as part of your decision making process. Another instance is that plenty of people have secondary locations that they live in (weekends/vacations) that are not displayed on their Twitter profiles. I just think you need to look a little deeper, but not taking too much time over it.

    2. Kittie you bring up a great point that we deal with often with (local) clients. If you are in the space then you need to understand that it is global and that their is (growth) potential, even for the smallest operations. Attention to that detail is often cast aside. SMM can become an integral part of an operations marketing efforts as long as they are considering the value of time and investing their limited resources efficiently.

  3. Oh, such a valid post! I’ve seen so many people who “Use Twitter & Facebook” say that they could ‘run’ social media for a company..
    I completely agree the time factor involved with successfully marketing a brand presence. For instance a blog post for a client took 2 hours work this morning, then had to be scheduled across suitable social channels. That’s a quarter of my working day alone! Then the ongoing engagement, interaction and replies/comments from previous posts…
    How anyone could run just a single account with less than 3 hours a day baffles me.. never mind 24/7 monitoring and actioning issues if necessary.

  4. Kittie, I too was attacked by Robert when he called out Tennessee. Just playing folks.

    However, while I agree with :30 a day is not enough and misguided I question the “don’t teach” companies social media. Of course, part of my consulting services include teaching and even training brands on the benefits of social. It is for this reason that I require the first layer of teaching to involve the C-suites, explaining big picture and best practices which is most of what I do. Until that audience embraces and acknowledges social as a viable marketing medium the buy-in to either handle in-house or outsource will never happen. I would rather teach a generation on how to use Social properly and not use it as another push marketing tactic, then recommend a client to outsource without fully grasping the benefits, values and strategy involved in success and have them give up 3 months in.

    1. That’s ok that we disagree on this David.I have found that for many SMB’s it is a waste of money to pay for such a thing and they will never be able to execute it in-house. The problem with teaching a generation how to use social media and then their inability to actually execute it properly with real results is that we are setting up an entire industry for failure and collapse.

      All in my humble opinion…

      1. I always appreciate and value your take on things Robert. I think we agree for the most part on this one, as you know I value educate and awareness. I think once a company sees the light and value of SM, then they are one step closer to success. I agree that the success does not come easily, nor does it happen over-night.


      2. We don’t disagree there either David. I am saying that MOST can’t execute it properly themselves and therefore won’t. I’m also saying that teaching someone on the team will ultimately result in creating a new competitor for yourself whether you realize it or not it is happening a lot out there.

        Keep rolling bro! :-)

  5. You mean that “do social media in 7 minutes a day” is not real? Great post Robert! Great teaching here, and I feel education should be a constant part of our services to our clients, for the same reason you have written this post. There’s much myth busting to be done.

  6. I disagree with some of it. Yes it’s time consuming but that’s why time management matters. My social media company does just fine managing several accounts. Most companies I find struggle because they have no strategy, no content plan and don’t care to take the time. I agree you need to take the time and be detailed. If your’re focused and have a plan, it’s easy to get things done and do them right. We create blogs and are able to post them and it takes us less than an hour. It’s all about planning and time management.

    Create good content. You don’t need 5 posts a day to be successful. One post is good enough if the content is good.

      1. Most successful brands post less than 3 times a day. It’s not necessary. Even for small business. I’d rather have 2 or 3 quality posts then 5 or 6 with no quality to them. They tend to get lost anyway.

        I don’t disagree with everything. Just on that part.

      2. Name a successful SMB in social media doing that please. Big brands don’t do social media right, nor do they have to. My daughter could build a strategy for a big brand. Show me a twitter/fanpage of a successful small/Med Business that is getting real ROI on social media and posts less than three times per day JD. I would love to see that.

        My experience even with small and medium brands is the exact opposite. When users login to social on and off all day and you post 1-3 posts, nobody is seeing any of it at any volume that gets any results.

        So yes, we disagree dramatically, but again, that’s ok. Do what you believe works for you and is getting real ROI, not just engagement or clicks.

        Go get em man!

  7. Robert,

    The “do social media in 10 minutes or less” posts are concerning to me too…

    1) This is sensationalized phrasing made to get attention & drive the buck.
    2) These folks couldn’t have practiced effective social media or they would not be selling this garbage.
    3) If they have done it well, they’ve started hanging out in the business acumen basement and need to hear from their grandmother shaking her finger.

    This is dangerous because it diminishes the social media industry as a whole. Business owners will be frustrated and probably will never appreciate what social media could really do for their brand.

    As far as local and global go, social media does create a canvas for the local operator to push their envelope and exist on a larger playing field. Only the business owner, or their social media manager, can determine the valuable contacts for their situation.

    I do appreciate the breakdown and guide of suggested social media posts per day. There, too, sector and brand should dictate the overall formula. Some of your suggestions seem a little high, in my experience. But I do realize that for some businesses and business professionals you are right on the money.

    In the end, there’s no “one size fits all,” which then negates the 10 minutes a day theory. After all, that’s just syndicating content with no social behind it.

    Thank you, Robert, for sharing your knowledge. And for a few reminders! :)


    1. Thank you for the comments Keri. I agree there is no way I could have outlined every possible segment, market or industry type regarding posts per day. My experience tells me that you have to have enough valuable content in the stream for your audience all day, no matter when they happen to login. Yes, there’s is no one size fits all and these activities ensure you’re not just syndicating, but actually delivering value and getting results.

      Thanx again!

  8. Social media is affordable and customizable to your needs and budget and certainly a cost effective way to reach international audiences and communicate with your target audience on a regular basis. Like any marketing effort, it takes planning and regular time and attention.

  9. I’m a writer, which is probably the hardest thing to sell through social media. One of the problems I’ve run into is that the social media gurus act like we don’t have anything to do but social media. But without a finished a book, all the social media in the world isn’t going to help. I was part of a social media class for writers, and everyone eagerly jumped onto Twitter, Facebook, and blogging, to name a few. Six months later, people were bailing from social media because it was cutting too much into the writing time. I’ve all but given up marketing myself because it is stressful for me (as an introvert) and too time consuming; instead, I’m just focusing on keeping my very ordinary and common name high in the search engines.

  10. “If you are a restaurant in Tennessee, friending or following someone in the UK doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

    Totally agree on the Follow-Back section, Robert. Many people seem to follow back everyone who follows them. While this is ok to do when you’re very first starting out on Twitter and need to get a base going, it’s a good practice to take a look at who is following you and deciding whether they are relevant to your industry or business. Engaging a targeted audience is what’s most important and I think a lot of us lose sight of this and only focus on the numbers. If all you have are followers who are only interested in the follow back and not at all in what you have to say, the numbers are meaningless.

  11. Great article Robert! I’m looking to find ways using social media to market our home security products. It may be a challenge because it is a unique business, but your tips are very helpful!

  12. Most small businesses don’t have the time or the expertise to use social media as an effective marketing tool. Surfing through SMB Facebook brand pages will show that many start off with a lot of energy and when the sales don’t start pouring in they lose their enthusiasm and posts begin to dwindle. The usual tactic is to go to an application like Hootsuite but in reality this just decreases the direct engagement that businesses have with their social customers because they can produce a pseudo-presence on social media without the important half of the equation- communicating with the customers that you do attract to your brand pages.

    1. Exactly Content writers. This is why I am against social media consultants. The average SMB cannot execute social media properly themselves. Teaching them to do so is stealing their money, when they don’t the have the time, resources and experience to do it. They are much better off hiring an experienced professional agency to manage it for them.

  13. I’m going to excerpt from this blog post in an email blast I’m sending out to those on my Morning Email list (i.e. subscribers at ) tomorrow. Thanks for the great content, which I found because you followed me (@vernsanders) on twitter (which is why I’m mentioning this in the comments, folks).

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