“Our non-profit would benefit from social media!” was the last thing anyone heard from Arthur Dent. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, WordPress pulled him into a social media space-time continuum that eventually imploded inward on itself, leaving us only his Backtype comments and his sweaty bathrobe.
How To Avoid The Social Media Time Suck
Even incremental time management improvements with your social media efforts can add up to huge gains in long-term productivity – without the wasted time. Here are a few ways to manage your time with social media:
1. Make a list – and check it twice
Simply having a written list of the social media sites I want to focus on saves me about 10 hours a week. All of my sites are on one index card. Each social media site on my list has a business reason behind it:
- Amount of traffic from that site in my Google Analytics Report(Twitter, StumbleUpon)
- How the site relates to my niche (LinkedIn Groups, Techsoup Forum)
- Professional networking (particular blogs, LinkedIn Answers)
- Blog Partnerships (Yahoo groups, Authority Blogger forum)
- Just plain fun – an important business reason!
2. Pick the big stones
On my index card, I’ve put an asterisk next to the social media sites that are absolutely important to my business. I’ve asked myself, “If I only had time for three sites each day, which ones would I focus on?”
Chris Brogan puts it another way: “Triage is the art of quickly looking at everything that needs doing and knowing what will either make the most impact or relieve the most stress.”
3.Budget your time
Next, I’ve written down how much time I’d like to realistically spend with each site on a daily basis. Like anyone else, I have need time for family, friends as well as “regeneration” time. I’ve budgeted more time for the big stones, and less time for the other sites.
4. Carve out your time
I spread my social media time throughout the day in 30-minute chunks. I work well with short “sprints” of activity. Some folks need to “warm-up” so two-hour marathons are better for them. Know yourself. Plan around who you are. And no, you’re not Tim Ferriss.
5. Use a timer
Because it’s easy for me to get distracted by Youtube videos and Flickr photos, I’ve had to force my self to set a 30-minute alarm. Knowing that I have limited time puts me in a state of heightened attention – I stay focused. I’ve gotten more done in 30 minutes with an egg timer than 2 hours with no timer.
6. Praise yourself
If you don’t think I’m mental yet, you will now. When my 30 minutes are up I say out loud: “Great job!” I’ve found that this is the second best way to make myself feel good
7. Give new sites 30 days
You have to consistently work a new social media site for at less 30 days in order to determine it’s value.
8. Cut bait on dead weight
If you’re networking on sites where no one is biting, pull up your line and go find another fishing hole. “And do not feel any guilt about it”, says Chris Garrett, founder of AuthorityBlogger.Com. “There are no rules that say you have to follow everyone who follows you!”