Whether you use social media for work, pleasure, personal branding or all of the above, one of the trickier questions is, “How do I manage my time on social media?” Like New York, social media is the “city that never sleeps” and there seems to be a new social network emerging every week. So how do you keep up? Consider these ten tips.
1) Understand that you have a fixed amount of time.
Time (in the day) is a zero sum game, at least for those of us who require sleep. The 20 minutes I spend fixing the kitchen sink is 20 minutes I won’t have to do something else. So think of your social media activities as a continual give and take. Give the effort that you’re comfortable with, but don’t let it take over your life.
2) Let automated tools assist you.
On social media, you can find a tool (or app) for just about anything. A good number of tools are absolutely free, while others are paid (or freemium) tools. The Next Web published an excellent list of “50 (mostly) free social media tools you can’t live without in 2012.”
One tool that I like to use is Buffer, which allows me to schedule certain tweets at specific times. If I have an article to share late one night (on the West Coast of the U.S.), it won’t be seen on the East Coast, as most everyone has gone to bed. So I’ll use Buffer to schedule it to be posted (automatically) the next morning.
3) Know what you’re good at.
Figure out what you’re good at, along with what you enjoy the most (they’re very often one and the same). Then, schedule your activities such that you’re focusing 60% (or more) of your time on that very thing. My primary focus is Twitter. Other social networks may come and go, but I’ve enjoyed Twitter the most. And that’s where I spend most of my social media time.
4) Get into a routine.
Just like the morning coffee, the afternoon walk or the after-dinner dish cleaning, social media is incorporated into my daily routine. I have social media with my morning coffee, in fact. As I’m checking the morning headlines, I’ll tweet some interesting articles. As I see what’s written about my favorite sports teams, I’ll check whether any images are worth pinning on Pinterest.
5) Find the right blend.
Don’t stick to one sort of activity (e.g. tweeting links). Find a good blend of activities, which include publishing, sharing and interacting. Jenise Fryatt (@JeniseFryatt) coined the term “EIR” (Engage, Inform, Retweet) and routinely lists (and thanks) Twitter users with the hash tag #EIR.
When I started with Twitter, my activities were all about publishing. These days, I find roughly 25% of my tweets are interactions (e.g. at replies, retweets, etc.).
6) Use social networks’ mobile apps.
On my iPhone, I’ve downloaded mobile apps for Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest (to name a few). The mobile apps have been tremendous for time efficiency.
Now, when I’m stuck on a 30 minute security line at the airport, that’s 25 minutes I get to check in with friends on Facebook, see what’s happening on Twitter, etc. (the other 5 minutes is consumed by fumbling for my driver’s license and untying my shoe laces).
7) Use email notifications to alert you.
While some have declared a death to email (partially due to social networks), I find it to be the “glue” that connects all of your social media activities. In particular, email is great for notifying you to take action.
For instance, I get an email when someone mentions me on Twitter. I can read the details (in the email) and if I’m on mobile, I can tweet back to the user right away. Similarly, I receive emails when someone comments on my Google+ post, so I know to reply back when I get a chance.
8) Spend 15% of your time experimenting.
Craft a 15% budget towards R&D (or, trying out new things). When Google+ first came out, I didn’t jump on board right away. But when I did, I spent a good chunk of my time on it, to learn about Circles, Hangouts and more. While Twitter rules the roost for me, that may not be the case forever. And it’s this experimentation that may identify whatever comes next.
9) Use aggregation and recommendation services.
The best example I can give is Summify – their service is so neat that they were recently acquired by Twitter. Summify creates a “daily summary of the most relevant news from your social networks.” In a given hour, you may have 7,000 tweets in your stream. You need to skim through a lot of text to find content that interests you.
Summify finds the particularly popular links that people you’re following have shared. It’s now incorporated into the daily email (sent by Twitter). The recommendations are so good that I click on more than half of the links.
Related services include LinkedIn Today and Twitter Stories.
10) Take a break.
You shouldn’t be on social media all the time. It may be hard to do, but allocate periods of time where you go completely offline. Trust me, you’ll enjoy the break and you’ll return with a fresh perspective on things. I took a break from social media to go camping – and it was fabulous.
So in closing, I’ll reiterate a few of the key points:
- Find what you’re good at (and enjoy) and spend most of your time doing it.
- Technology (tools, emails, aggregation services) will aid in time efficiency.
- Find the right blend of publishing, sharing and interacting.
- Use email notifications to alert you to take action.
- Take a break and go offline.
Note: I invite you to connect with me on Google+.