Online Social Marketing Series: September

    Your Budget. Your Time.

    You’ve decided to add social networking into your marketing program even though you can’t imagine adding one more thing to your to-do list of responsibilities.

    I have some thoughts on that topic…read my words: ONE: it doesn’t have to add additional dollars of expense to your budget, TWO: it doesn’t have to take tons of time to be effective, and THREE: you don’t have to do it… just manage it.

    Here are some tips to support my word from above…

    The good news about adding social media into your marketing plan is that the cost is very little compared to what you’ve probably paid for print and Yellow Page advertising campaigns in the past. Review your current or projected marketing and advertising budget. Look at the items that repeat yearly.

    I mean really look at them. Look at your Yellow Page investment for an example. Can you save some dollars there by changing or reducing your display ad or listing? How many people use search engines to find you these days? Do you Google? Continue to look…what about those items that you’ve done forever and decide whether you’re really receiving a positive return on your investment. Sometimes, if you have a repetitive (even charitable) budget line-item that’s more “giving” than “receiving” (little return on investment), consider making a change to offering support every other or third year in order to bring fresh dollars back into your budget for supporting new programs.

    The first things that many people say when considering social media is, “I don’t have time to sit down in front of my computer everyday to write marketing messages.” Good news! You don’t have to!!
    There are consoles now (and many are free) where you can manage the messages for most of your social media sites all in one platform called dashboards. You can create an entire month’s worth of news and information messages (postings) at one sitting if you’d like and then set the dashboard to automatically deliver your content exactly when you want. You can always go in and make changes or create current updates at any time. No problem. I use because I can manage my outgoing messages as well as track results. Like everything else, I suggest that you do some research to find the dashboard that best meets your needs.

    There are plenty of virtual / social media-minded people looking for jobs. Think if you know someone that loves your business, is creative, can write well (spelling is also an important attribute), and talks about online communicating via Facebook and Twitter. Consider looking for an enthusiastic employee, a current customer that just loves your business, or maybe a college intern looking for a few hands-on hours toward his/her degree. There are tons of online placement services like:,, and even, to name just a few.

    Depending on your needs, the virtual assistant’s job description might look something like this:
    help wanted virtual writer

    Once you have your new assistant in place they can begin by creating an spread sheet template designed to easily layout your campaigns, build excitement for upcoming events, introduce new items, deliver advocacy or educational content on specific topics or by departments. Whatever you’d like shared through social media you can be planned out in advance. Department managers can be encouraged to contribute content including photos and links to be included.


    All of the content can be managed by your new media communicator in a very efficient, timely manner. Trust me. Just make sure you hire the right person!

    After all the content has been collected the social media messages created as they are entered into the dashboard and reviewed before they are scheduled to be sent out. You just review the messages, delivery schedule and relax!

    If you need a template idea go to and scroll down to the Twitter Planner. The templates are FREE and available in both Microsoft Excel and PDF formats.


    Posted on WholeFoods Magazine Online, September 28, 2010

    Debby Swoboda, president of Debby Swoboda Marketing Solutions, has over 22 years experience in the Natural Products Industry developing and executing effective marketing and merchandising programs for independent retailers. Debby enjoys teaching retailers how to utilize partnerships and seize opportunities to maximize sales and profits. Her passionate support of independents led her to create “,” a destination resource providing education programs, free down-loadable shelf talkers and templates, label branding program, and a host of other items designed to support retailers.

    Debby is noted as an "expert contributor" to industry publications, writes a featured Marketing Tips article and presents "live" TeleTrainings (webinars) as part of Tree of Life’s Knowledge Center, is a guest "blogger" for The Natural Foods Merchandiser, and is a national presenter at national and regional shows. Debby is an active board member of the Southeast Natural Products Association and serves many clients including retailers, distributors, manufacturers offering proven business solutions.

    For more information, visit, call Debby Swoboda Marketing Solutions, (772) 287-9559, or follow Debby at