Social media has come a long way since I first blogged about social networking in 2004. Recently I’ve been considering how much time to spend marketing on social media sites, especially now that they’re becoming popular.

I’ve noticed that some of my peers spend hours keeping various social media communities apprised of business news. But sometimes I wonder whether this is an efficient use of time. I’m on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, among other sites, but I’ve limited how much time I spend keeping my followers and friends up to date.

I’m a busy business owner and I have a life. When I’m at my computer I’m either working on a contract or building my business. When I consider my business goals, I know that spending hours on social media sites is not an efficient use of my limited spare time.

How much time to dedicate to social media depends on your goals and your target market. Visualize your marketing pipeline. How do you find your best clients? What’s your ultimate goal? How can you turn clients into repeat clients? How much is your time worth?

Once you have clear answers to these questions, put a marketing system in place that will turn leads into clients and clients into repeat clients. Depending on your niche and target market, your marketing system may very well include social media–you may even rely heavily on it. But, for some organizations, contributing daily to social media may not be an effective use of time. Time, after all, is money.

By all means, be visible on social media and check in on occasion. Where possible, investigate using automated tools that will automatically keep your followers apprised of new blog posts and events. But before dedicating more than an hour per week on social media, consider your marketing goals as a whole and evaluate where social media fits into your overall strategy.

(c) 2006 by Andrea Coutu. Vancouver Marketing Consultant. All rights reserved.