Your crash course in social management on a tiny time budget.
It’s something we hear often from our medical clients: “social media is just too complicated and time consuming. We can’t effectively manage a social media plan in the limited time we have.”
We understand – we’ve been working with medical professionals for over 10 years. We know you’re short on time, and we’re here to help. Although your social media will often fare better if you can set aside a good chunk of time to thoroughly research, plan, and publish your content, you can make do on a smaller amount of time.
Social media can absolutely be run on a very tight time budget.
All you need to run a successful schedule is to free up 30 spare minutes at some point during the week. This can be whenever you want: when you open your doors for the week, just before lunch in the middle of the week, or even right before you close for the weekend.
Sounds too good to be true? Keep reading to find out how you can get your social media totally under control in just 30 minutes a week.
(Just here for a Hootsuite tutorial? Skip to the how-to-build section of this article.)
To start – set up Hootsuite
One of the most daunting parts of running a social media account for your business is the need to post regularly. This is especially difficult if you have limited time on your hands. Luckily, there’s an easy way around the mayhem – Hootsuite.
Hootsuite is a free program which allows you to schedule your social media posts a long time in advance. It can be connected to most major social media platforms – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and more. It can even upload videos to YouTube.
While paid versions exist, you likely won’t need them unless you plan to schedule lots of posts at once (the limit is 30, and we’re planning weekly – most practices won’t come anywhere near this limit).
Setting up Hootsuite is a once-off exercise – we suggest allowing an hour or so to set it up for the first time, but you shouldn’t need to do it again. In the long run, it will save you countless hours and interruptions to your day. The time trade is worth it!
Leading up to your schedule session – flag things!
Take note of the interesting parts of your practice life throughout the week. Find a fun meme? Staff birthday in the practice? See an article you like? Save it!
Get a post idea? Write it down. One of the best things you can do for your socials is to go in with existing ideas. It’s obvious if you’re only posting for the sake of posting.
This habit can take a while to establish, but you’ll find that it saves time in the long run. It also helps you develop a relevant, authentic social media presence.
Grabbing extra pictures – 10 minutes (research)
This step is all about collecting great imagery to plaster across your socials – depending on how many pictures you’ve managed to collect during the week, you may not even need it.
Most social media platforms are heavily visual. Facebook posts featuring images get more interaction than text-only posts, and you can’t even post to Instagram without a picture. Think of your own social media feed; you probably notice posts with a bold, eye-capturing image more than a simple line of text. Choosing a picture for your social post is especially important, and it’s worth taking a little extra time to find a great one.
What images am I looking for?
Look for images which have most of their content centred in the middle. This allows them to be posted to Instagram easily, which means you won’t need to spend time looking for separate images or setting up multiple posts.
Be mindful of the images you use – if you take a picture from a source which doesn’t explicitly say it’s free to use, you can risk legal consequences from the owner. You’ll need to acquire your images through a more official channel, rather than taking them from a Google image search.
Where can I find images for my socials?
Alternatively, you can purchase stock imagery from a site like Shutterstock or iStock. This can be a little more difficult (and means you need to have a budget for your images), but it opens up your options to a wider range of higher-quality images.
The best images, however, are ones you take yourself. These are reassuring, genuine, and go a long way to reinforce the authenticity of your brand. You don’t need a fancy camera to take them either; your phone camera will usually do the trick. Images of your practice, staff, and patients (taken with permission) can give your social media a brilliant touch of tangibility.
Start building! – 13 minutes
Full disclaimer – this section may take a longer than 13 minutes for the first few times you do it. However, it will get faster as you start to get the hang of it. You may even be able to get it done even quicker!
To help clarify exactly what needs to be done, we’ll demonstrate the steps in this section by setting up the social posts that will link to this article. Since our main social outreach platforms are Facebook and Instagram, you’ll see them in our setup. The process is very similar for other platforms.
Log into Hootsuite – 1 minute
This one depends a little on your Internet speed – we’re allowing a minute, but most connections can probably get the login done in less.
All you need to do is head to Hootsuite’s website and login with the username and password you set up earlier. While your page is loading, you can also check the file locations for the content you plan to post (especially if your connection is slow and you have a little extra time). When you log in, you’ll be taken straight to your Streams page – more on this later. For now, head to the grey bar on the side and click on the calendar icon to see your publisher calendar.
This is the screen you’ll use to build and schedule your posts. You can also use it to see posts you’ve already scheduled. In our example, you can see one that automatically posted itself earlier, and one that is set to post later in the day.
Build your posts – 4 minutes each
We’re allowing time for three of these, although you can make more or less if you want. You may need to adjust your time budget accordingly.
Before starting this section, check the file locations for everything you’ve saved (if you didn’t get to it while you were logging in). Make sure you know where your files are and how to access them quickly. The extra check can save you a lot of time. To get started on your post build, click on the box that marks the day and hour when you want your post to go live. This will open a small, white box with options to create a Pin for Pinterest and a post for other platforms. Click on ‘post’.
You won’t be able to choose a more exact time for your post to go live at this stage of setup. Don’t worry about it for now; it can be edited later on. For now, just choose an option that’s close. Clicking on the ‘Post’ button will open the New Post popup. This is where you will build your social media post!
Save time by posting to multiple platforms at once
One of Hootsuite’s most useful features is the ability to post to multiple platforms at once. Instead of making multiple similar posts to different platforms, you can post one identical one to multiple platforms at once. To do this, click on the topmost text field in the post creation section. This will display a list of the social platforms you have connected to your Hootsuite account – checkmark the box on the ones you would like your post to send to.
Hootsuite will post an identical version of the post you create to each selected platform. If you’d like to make slight changes or vary the posts a little between platforms, you can do so in the final editing phase. We’ll talk more about this near the end of this post.
Upload your images
You can add images to Hootsuite by using the ‘Media’ option to find them on your computer. Alternatively, you can drag them into the window straight from a location on your computer (your desktop, an open file in a finder window, etc.). Once it’s uploaded, Hootsuite will display a preview of your post with the selected image.
If it doesn’t fit exactly within the destination platform’s recommended post sizes, Hootsuite will give you a warning and options to crop it to size. You can use the tools within Hootsuite to do this.
Add your text
We suggest allowing the bulk of your three-minute-per-post time slot time for this section, especially if you haven’t thought out your captions in advance.
The beauty of social posts is that they generally don’t need to be content-heavy, especially if you chose a great image to frame your post. Generally, all you need is one to two sentences to make up the text body of the post, which you can type or copy-paste straight into the ‘Text’ field.
The text body is also the place to place your link if you’re connecting to an external page (like an interesting article or a source). Be warned that some social platforms can’t display URLs as hyperlinks in their posts; you may need to consider using another method of linking (such as through your bio), or forgo the link altogether.
In the example below, you can see that the link in the Facebook post preview is blue, while the one in the Instagram post preview is black. This shows that the Facebook link will work once the post is live (because Facebook supports this link), while the Instagram one will not (because it’s not supported).
Have a few hashtags you use in almost every post? Tags such as your brand name, tagline, or important industry tags can be typed out in advance and pasted into your post for ultimate speed. Hootsuite will usually recognise them automatically, as long as they only contain letters and numbers (no special characters!).
In the example below, you can see that the blue text which indicates a working link is present in the hashtag; however, it turns to black after the ampersand sign. This is because the symbol isn’t supported as part of the tag.
That’s the bulk of your post creation done! Now that the post’s content is in place, it’s time to schedule it for automatic posting.
When you’re done – schedule
Final setup step! All you have to do now is select the time you would like your post to go live. You can do this by selecting the grey button with the current time and date of your post at the bottom of your screen.
Clicking on this button will bring up a small calendar, which you can use to select the date and time you would like to go live. You can use this to schedule a post at a more exact time than you can through the content planner screen – in 5-minute intervals, rather than one-hour blocks.
You won’t be able to choose a date in the past or a time less than five minutes before the current time, but you can schedule an infinite amount of time in advance. Select a date and time within the next week to set your post live.
The ideal time to schedule your post depends heavily on your industry, your social media goals, and your target audience. You may need to do a little research and experimentation to determine your own best time for publishing posts – Let us know if you’d like a hand.
Once you’ve selected the correct time and date for your post to go live, click on ‘Done’ in the calendar to save your time and date changes, and then click on ‘Schedule’ to let it automatically post when the time comes.
Rinse and repeat
With a bit of practice, you should be able to schedule another two social media posts in the remaining 8 minutes of your scheduled post-building time. If you have more than 30 minutes or an amazing post idea up your sleeve, you could even try scheduling a few extra.
Once the final post is set up, you will be able to see all your newly-scheduled posts on your calendar, spread out over the scheduled week.
Review and reposition your posts – 2 minutes
This is the time to make sure everything is in working order. Give your posts a quick proofread – check your spelling and grammar, rework any parts you aren’t sure of, and make sure your content make sense in general. A quick check can save you from making an embarrassing blunder.
Some people find this step easiest if they take a short break beforehand. It gives them time mentally reset, which can help prevent accidentally skipping over errors. Alternatively, you can enlist the help of some fresh eyes (such as an editor or colleague) to help catch any errors in your posts.
This is also the time to reschedule, should you decide that a different posting time would work better. You can change the time and day on which your posts will publish by dragging them around on the calendar.
If you’d like to make some of your identical posts slightly different (by optimising the text for each platform), you can click on a duplicate to open it individually and edit it without affecting the others. This is also the way to reschedule a post to a specific 5-minute interval time, as dragging them around on the calendar causes the posting time to reset to the nearest hour.
To edit a post
Choose the post you want to edit and click on it in the calendar. The specific post will be highlighted in the calendar. To open the post for editing, click on the grey pencil icon at the top of the preview sidebar.
This will take you back to the screen you first used to create the post. If you look at the ‘Post to’ box at the top of the editing panel, you can see that the version of the post we are editing will only be posted to Instagram.
In this example, we decided to remove the URL link from our Instagram post, since the platform doesn’t support it. We did this by deleting the URL in the text field. We also used the calendar feature to change the time at which it will go live.
Once you’ve made any changes, remember to click the orange ‘save edits’ button. After you do this, you’ll be able to see the changes in the calendar screen again.
Following your final edits, your posts won’t need any more input or planning on your part. Hootsuite will post them to the nominated channel at the scheduled time unless you intervene.
Scan your feed – 5 minutes
Congratulations, the hard part of your social media scheduling session is over! Now it’s time for the fun part: interacting with other people and brands through your social media.
Hootsuite can also help with this one, although you may find it easier to access your various social platforms directly through their apps or websites for ultimate usability.
To see all your social platforms at once, you can click on the ‘streams’ option in Hootsuite’s side navigation bar. This will take you back to the page Hootsuite shows when you first log in – your social dashboard, which you can use to view and use all of your social media channels at once.
Remember to like, comment on, share, and otherwise interact with posts in your feed. This helps to foster relationships with your followers, build your online reputation, and add authenticity to your social media presence. You can do this in Hootsuite using the stream page’s functions, or by using each platform’s application or website separately.
Get any post ideas while you’re looking? Write them down – you can use them for next week’s planning session.
Time’s up – take a break!
Congratulations, you’ve successfully managed your business’ social media presence for the week in 30 minutes! You’ve earned a pat on the back and a moment to relax.
Over the course of the next week, your scheduled posts will roll out one-by-one at the scheduled times. While you are free to manually add extra content and interact with other accounts throughout the week, you won’t need to interact with your newly set posts any further. Your business social media will be set until next week!
If you’d like, you can even schedule your social media time for a little longer and squeeze in a coffee break afterwards. We won’t tell anyone.
Need help getting started?
Beginning your social media schedule can be a little daunting, but we can help you out. With years of experience in social media marketing and Hootsuite training available, we can get your socials kickstarted and help you continue the journey on your own. Find out how.