Online social networking and social media marketing are the hottest new tools in the business promotion armamentarium. These tools are not only extremely effective for “growing the brand,” but for advancing the reputations and careers of executives alike. Customers love the ability to interact directly and personally with these executives. Paradoxically, the singular most common complaint of executives is that online social networking and social media marketing places significant demands on their time.So how does an executive or entrepreneur reap the benefits of online social networking and social media marketing for the minimal investment of time?Smart executives turn to S.A.M. the three-part process for optimizing the efficiency of the online social networking and social media marketing process.Meet S.A.M.The key to successfully reaping the benefits of online social networking and social media marketing is to provide genuine interaction for customers. This means that the executive must be the actual author of all communications; however, this is only one-step in the process of conducting a successful online social networking / social media marketing campaign. It is basic business economics, delegating duties to free the time of key individuals in the organization produces a larger return on the time investment. S.A.M. includes Strategic Planning, Authorship and Mechanics.Strategic PlanningAn online social networking / social media marketing campaign must be a part of the overall public relations, marketing and advertising plan for the business. In the best of circumstances, online social networking / social media marketing can replace part or even all of the conventional marketing and advertising. Entrepreneurs and executives often have review and oversight of public relations, marketing and advertising plans but seldom if ever micromanage the development and deployment of these plans.Determining where best to conduct online social networking and social media marketing efforts requires twenty to thirty percent of the time spent each week on an optimal program. Delegating this aspect of the process to a consultant or other highly trained team member saves the executive significant time.AuthorshipThis is the part of the process that must be completely the original work and words of the executive. Customers choosing to participate in online social networking with the management and owners of a business expect – even demand – that their interactions actually be with the executive. Everyone in the online social networking and social media marketing industry took notice of the backlash against Brittany Spears when it was discovered that ghostwriters wrote her social networking interactions. On the other hand, multiple celebrities have learned that contributing to their own blogs, Twitters and social networking efforts creates fan loyalty and increased opportunities.Executives who author their own articles, blog entries and speeches find that the time required is small compared to the favorable response received from audiences and customers. Even more time can be saved by dictating drafts and letting someone else do the typing. In most cases, authorship requires less than ten percent of the time spent on online social networking and social media marketing each week.MechanicsThe part of the process that takes the most time and causes the dread for executives considering an online social networking / social media marketing campaign is the part most easily delegated to an employee. The mechanics of posting blog entries, Twitters and social network comments requires only a bank of authentically authored content from which to draw and the knowledge of how to post that content to the appropriate sites.The process of posting content combined with the process of locating new social media contacts accounts for fully half of all the time spent on online social networking and social media marketing efforts. When these duties are delegated to an employee operating in accordance with a well-defined strategic plan and clear ethical guidelines, the executive is freed for more gainful efforts while satisfying the customer’s desire for online social network interactions.Putting S.A.M. to WorkIn practice, the S.A.M. process begins with strategic planning to determine what markets represent the most viable for a particular business and specific executive. Once these markets and online networking sites are identified, a detailed plan for participating on the various networks is formulated. This plan is re-evaluated monthly and refocused to maximize recruitment of new contacts as well as profile and website visitors.Once a plan is in place, the executive must author articles and other content items for distribution through the planned social media outlets. This is the sum total of the executive’s time commitment except to answer specific replies from social network members. With this minimal time commitment, the executive establish rapport with the customer and relationships with the entire market.With the plan in place and the content authored, the daily mechanics of posting material to the networks and parsing compositions into microblogs is accomplished under the oversight of a consulting strategic planner. Because the content is not only in the voice of the executive, but the actual creation of that executive, the relationships created are fostered even without further investment of time or effort.Online social networking and social media marketing are an amazingly cost effect means of spreading the brand message and building both customer rapport and loyalty. The use of the S.A.M. process increase the return on investment for this new form of info-communications.