There are no two ways about it — implementing and maintaining a business-to-business social media program is hard work and not immediately rewarding. Here are some truths you’ll come to know:

• Social media marketing is time consuming.

You will need to designate someone in your organization to find content, manage posts and so on. Or you may need to give the responsibility to an agency or social media expert. Plan on at least a day of work per week.

• Building an audience takes time.

One of the beauties of social media marketing is the fact that you create your own audience. However, attracting the right followers can be slow and requires forethought.

• Recognition builds slowly.

While there are some overnight sensations in social media, that’s not the norm. The usual is that your reputation will build gradually as you provide helpful content for your target audiences.

• Social media is always changing.

The medium is evolving, so expect things to change. The landscape of available channels continually shifts, and familiar channels adjust their policies and procedures. The users of various social media are also changing, so be sure you know where your audience is going for information.

Using automation to lighten your load

Social media marketing requires a human touch, but there are some ways to make the process easier. Automation tools are one way to help minimize the real-time burden of social media. For example, Facebook allows you to schedule posts in advance. You can schedule tweets with Tweetdeck. For programs that involve multiple channels, you can use an automated service such as those listed below.

wrench2IFTTT stands for “if this then that,” and it works in exactly the same way. You can post on one outlet, and then use IFTTT to replicate that message across other social media sites. The site also allows you to schedule your posts, so you can “set it and forget it.” Free

wrench2Dlvr.it helps you keep up with trending topics over various social media platforms by combining the feeds from Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc. You can automatically share posts and articles that appear on your feed, including your own posts. Dlvr.it also promotes your blog and social media posts across social media platforms and local media. Monthly plans from $10 to $100+

wrench2Hootsuite allows you to schedule and manage multiple social media accounts using a single interface. Their easy-to-use dashboard also offers analytics, so you can see how each account is performing. Additional applications and advanced services (such as managing email marketing) are available as paid upgrades. “Free” and monthly plan options

wrench2Buffer is Hootsuite’s main competitor. It allows your social media feeds to be handled on one dashboard. It also allows you to schedule your posts, automatically updating your sites when the time is right. Buffer is easy to configure, too — it features a simple drag-and-drop interface to manage and organize your feeds. $10 per month

wrench2Hubspot combines all aspects of a business onto one platform. Not only does it handle your social media, it also helps you manage your content, track your incoming and outgoing costs, analyze your sales strategies and optimize your business calendar. Monthly costs from $200 and up

Need help increasing your visibility using social media for your marketing communications programs? Contact your CCC account manager or email smcpherson@cccinc.com.

Creative Communications Consultants, Inc. is a business-to-business marketing communications agency. We specialize in providing strategic marketing communications thinking to marketers of industrial and commercial products who target B2B audiences.