Manage your social media in 18 minutes a day.

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Most small business owners loves the idea of social media, “it’s free!” Then reality hits, “this takes too much time.” And so those small biz social media accounts go fallow.

Can you invest 18 minutes a day? If so, Hootsuite put out a pretty smart social media plan for small businesses:

Browse and Engage: 6 minutes

  • Check your Facebook notifications, Like posts your customers have shared and reply to any new posts.
  • Check the mentions tab on Twitter to see if you have any new interactions or followers. Thank your new followers and respond to any inquiries.
  • For Google+ welcome anyone has joined your Circles and see if any of your Google+ content has been shared.
  • On Instagram check your News tab for comments or to see if your business has been tagged in any photos. Again, thank users who have tagged you.
  • Monitor: 4 minutes
  • On Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, browse your Feed to find popular stories. Search streams for your business name, any hashtags for your business or industry as well as your competitors’ names.
  • On Google+ see what’s going on with the people in your Circles.

Post: 3 minutes

  • Post any real-time content and any content you have lined up in your daily posting schedule. (Hootsuite doesn’t talk about this, but you’ll want to build up several weeks’ worth of content that you can post in your daily sessions. If you don’t you’ll spend a lot more time than 3 minutes posting)
  • For Facebook and Google+, post a resourceful article that you’ve either written or share one from an informative source.
  • With Twitter, post a customer Tweet to retweet.
  • On Instagram you’ll want to post at least 1 photo a day.
  • Analyze: 2 minutes
  • Most all of these social networks provide insights and some sort of analytics. Use them to get an idea of who’s seeing your posts, which types of posts are getting more attention, etc.

Schedule: 3 minutes

  • Use this time to curate content for tomorrow.
  • Facebook users like visually rich storytelling. Limit  your posts to 1 or 2 per day.
  • Twitter is more immediate (and fleeting). Space your tweets out and tweet different content — photos, video, text only.
  • Google+ is a place to share news from your business and other content that will be interesting to the people in your Circles.
  • Instagram is a great place to give your customers an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at your business and the people who run it.

Your first few days (weeks) will take more than 18 minutes a day. You’ll also need to spend time (and it could be a lot of time) building a content library. Photos. Videos. Articles. 140 character posts. Non-time sensitive content that you can use in your various feeds. But with a stocked content library, once you get into the routine 18 minutes a day should be all it takes to take advantage of this “free” media.