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How to Master the Social-Media Beast

By Laura Lorber

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

For the past three weeks, we've been experimenting with dozens of social media ideas for Big Papa's BBQ in Denver. This "test and see" approach has led us to a comfortable spot. We're now able to zero in on the concepts that get talked about, passed around and acted upon most often - ensuring maximum return on our time investment.

With any social-media effort, it's important to reach a point where your action and reaction are regimented and in balance with one another. This way, you can plan social media as part of your day. We believe this balance occurs when 75% of your time is spent sending out messages and 25% of your time is spent engaging in actual conversation around them. It can change by day, but this is a good average.

Below is a day in the life of social media for Big Papa's BBQ, three weeks into the campaign. With the experimentation phase out of the way, we're beginning to hand over bits and pieces from our agency, LeeReedy/Xylem Digital, to the business owners.

Set Up for the Day: 8 to 8:45 a.m.

  • Respond to any posts on Facebook or Twitter from the previous day.
  • Take a few minutes to review the previous day's conversations to determine if we continue with similar discussions or begin new ones.
  • Find things to talk about. For example, what's happening in Denver?
    -- Events, the Denver Nuggets professional basketball games, the Colorado Avalanche professional ice-hockey games, Denver Broncos professional football games, concerts, food news and other happenings.
    -- News stories or press that we can join or start a conversation around.
  • Schedule posts for our four campaign promotions to publish throughout the day.
    -- Schedule two to three posts per campaign per day on Facebook and Twitter through the online brand-manager service HootSuite.
    -- Set the posts at different times so our followers are getting the messages whenever they decide to log on to their accounts.
  • Talk with the people who have talked to us in the past via Facebook/Twitter.
    -- Try to keep the friendly dialogue going to turn them into stronger brand advocates.

Start the Conversation: 10:30 to 11:45 a.m.

  • Search for daytime conversations we can stoke using search.twitter.com.
    -- Search relevant terms, for example: hungry, eat, eating, starving, lunch, snack, hang out.
    -- As a restaurant, the goal is to begin a dialogue with everyone around town who is hungry during lunch and dinner periods and to drive them to Big Papa's BBQ to eat. We use our promotions to offer them incentives.
  • Every time a term is mentioned on Twitter, we start by following the person and then commenting or "retweeting" them. A follow and a retweet is a "Hello, nice to meet you" on Twitter.
  • Continue evaluating which terms are fertile and which are not.

Continue the Conversation and Research: 6 to 7 p.m.

  • Search for evening conversations we can stoke using search.twitter.com.
    -- Search relevant terms, for example: hungry, starving, dinner, tonight, game, Avs, Nuggets, NFL, NHL, NBA.
    -- Games typically take place in the evening, a great opportunity to suggest our location as a place to watch the game, drink and eat dinner.
  • Re-evaluate search terms and continue to refine.
  • Concept messages and promotional posts for the following day.
  • Respond to all remaining messages from that day.

With everything we're doing, we try to respond to people within 24 hours. There's nothing wrong with automating some messaging, but be sure to avoid an automated social-media strategy. People can quickly assess if there's a bot or a human on the other end of the line. Make sure it feels like a human.

Progress TrackerStartWeek 3
Online Media Mentions:03
Twitter Mentions:029
Facebook Daily Post Views:04,983
Twitter Followers:0217
Facebook Likes:210428
Email Subscribers:597978
Email Click Through Rate:014% (4x higher than industry average)
Email Open Rate:035% (9% higher than industry average)

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