[guest post by Mark Havenner]

When companies and organizations commit to a social media presence, they can easily get trapped in a rabbit hole of time and inefficiency. The answer? Make sure your social media efforts never exceed an unwieldy amount of time and effort. The best option is generally a daily regimen, limited to a certain time frame (30 minutes to 1 hour) that keeps interaction and network-building consistent and efficient. Every organization is different, but in general the process looks something like this:

Step 1: Collect and Buffer
Aggregate all of your relevant news and blogs into one place. You probably receive news and links from many sources including newsletters, Facebook and Twitter timelines, news feeds, etc. The trick is to collect them all at once and then go through them one at a time.

Logistically, this means opening all potentially shareable items into different tabs on one browser based upon the headlines. Once you’ve gone through all of the sources and collected all the “tabs” then go through each tab and decide whether or not you want to share and/or to what social media platform. At our company, we use Buffer for posting, because it will automatically space posts out throughout the day so you don’t dump a bunch of links all at once.

Things to remember:
* Sharing links is not enough for social media interaction, share the link and add your thoughts or commentary on it.
* Don’t automate sharing—you should manually decide which post goes on which social media outlet and never duplicate posts. Different outlets are geared for different types of content.
* Buffer can utilize “power scheduling” enabling you to re-post upon a schedule or choose specific times to post

Step 2: Schedule
There are things happening that you know about well in advance, whether it be a piece of news about your organization or something in the editorial calendar (like a holiday or some sort of trend). For these types of posts, it makes sense to schedule them in advance so you don’t have to worry about it on a daily basis. Typically on the last day of the week, we will schedule posts for the following week for this kind of content.

Things to remember:
* Don’t post promotional content—Facebook will demote your post in people’s timelines and the Twitterverse will ignore it. If you have something promotional, make a social media ad.
* Use images to support your original posts
* Think about other multi-media—videos, infographics—to support your original posts

Step 3: Manage Lists
Social media is not a broadcasting medium. It is built for interaction and engagement. So it is not enough to share links and posts. So a critical (and often missed step) is to organize and nurture your network. Follow people back who interact with you or follow you, keep them on lists and segment those lists based upon interests. On Facebook don’t forget to like other pages on a regular basis (whenever you do this and you use Facebook as a page, you see all of the liked pages posts—it makes it easier to interact).

Things to remember:
* Use this time to follow people that may be interested in your Tweets or Instagram posts
* Don’t over follow! Social media doesn’t like people that are too eager and follow en masse. You could get banned for it!
* Unfollow people who don’t seem to be interested in your content or who don’t follow you back. It’s okay; if they’re not interested then they’re not interested. No point in networking with them

Step 4: Interact
This is probably the most important step. It does no good to put out posts and keep lists if you are not interacting. Social media is called that for a reason. Make a point to go through all of your lists and interact with others. It could be a retweet, or a question. You could respond to everyone’s posts on Facebook. If they followed you thank them, if they post something you like, tell them that. It is at this point you can be most personal and interactive. Respond to mentions and posts directed at you in real time.

Things to remember:
* When interacting, you are a person not a brand. It’s okay to “let your hair down” and be personable.
* Don’t spam people
* Be authentic—find real and genuine ways to interact

When done daily, these steps should not take more than half an hour a day.

Mark Havenner is the account supervisor at the LA-based The Pollack PR Marketing Group

Do you have any tips to share on managing social media? Please leave us a comment here or tweet us @Flow_Reader