Make time to make your important connections.

Zig Ziglar said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.”

When it comes to social media I often have people tell me, “I tried social media for my business and it didn’t work.” And after probing a little I find out that they tried some kind of social media for a few weeks or a few months, posting things haphazardly.

The fact is, that much like Zig’s quote about bathing daily, social media is something you need to participate in, personally and professionally, on a daily basis. And the biggest challenge to this is enough time.

And here’s the truth: If you can’t find at least 30 minutes out of your day to devote to social media, you need to re-evaluate your schedule. When the majority of your customers are participating on one or more social platforms, you must be there or you’ll lose.

Here’s how to spend your 30 minutes a day on social media.

ENGAGE WITH YOUR AUDIENCE: 40 PERCENT

It’s called social media for a reason. Some studies have shown that five out of six messages customers send to businesses through social media go unanswered. Think of it this way—if the phone at your front desk was ringing, would you just let it ring? You would never even think of not answering your phone.

Somewhere along the way a belief has emerged that people who ask questions through social media aren’t as important as those who call. I would argue that it could be more important because social media is so important. It would be like never answering your phone and then taking out a TV ad during the evening news to let everyone know that you don’t answer your phone.

LEARNING: 20 PERCENT

Social media platforms are continually changing, from their algorithms to how they look to how people interact with them. This means you have to be a lifelong learner of social media. There are hundreds of websites that offer social media education, but one of the best is Social Media Examiner, www .socialmediaexaminer.com. As their motto and promise states, they are your guide to the social media jungle.

PLANNING: 15 PERCENT

One of the most important parts of any marketing effort is planning, and social media is no different. You need to take time to think through your goals, what platforms you are going to use, what type of content to create, and more. As the old adage goes, those who fail to plan, plan to fail.

BRAINSTORMING WITH YOUR TEAM: 15 PERCENT

Get your entire staff involved with your social media efforts. There’s a high likelihood that almost 100 percent of them are on one or more social platforms so why not tap into the ideas they may have for your business? You’ll not only get some good ideas, but you may find others on your team that can start contributing and managing parts of your social media strategy.

EVALUATING ANALYTICS AND RESULTS: 10 PERCENT

You won’t know what’s working, what’s not working, and what you need to do more or less of if you aren’t looking at the data. What platforms and content are connecting and generating more engagement? Remember, what you focus on is where you see results.

Don’t throw social media out, embrace it. Test, learn, test, learn, repeat.

Cutting-edge social media training, including free resources for CBA member retailers, is available at UNITE 2018, July 8-11 in Nashville. From the New Model of Digital Media workshop to the social media lounge, you will receive the background you need to understand why this new media is valuable for retailers and how to take full advantage of the resources offered.

—Chris Rainey