Social media tools can be used effectively in both business and personal networking. But let’s face it. They can also be a bit of a time drain. Okay…. Maybe more than “a bit.”
Just as I’m not the type of person who believes in trying every social media tool that comes along just because others are using it, I’m also not one to let any single tool (or group of tools) dominate my days. But with the occasionally addictive nature of these tools (mostly Twitter and my blogs in my case), it sometimes becomes difficult to separate “social media time” from “get other stuff done” time.
The answer for me at least has been to create a sort of social media schedule.
What is a Social Media Schedule?
There is no single right or wrong way to create a social media schedule. Basically though it just means that you set aside time for using social media sites and tools, and during other times you focus on other areas of your business, or life.
You might have to be really strict with yourself, actually scheduling in an hour here for site A and 20 minutes there for site B. Or you can try a looser form of social media scheduling like what I do.
Personally I have dedicated “Twitter time” in the morning, usually second only to checking my work email. I log into my main account. If I have time I log into one of my site-specific accounts. And once I’m through with that I log into a client’s account that I manage several days per week. It gets me up to date on the niche chatter, and my main account gives me something to do marketing-wise (networking) while I’m still trying to mentally wake up and face the day. It works well for me.
Some days I’m on Twitter much more than others. So how does that varying amount of social media time come out of a schedule? Well, my loose-style schedule includes logging in between client projects. So when I finish a blog post for my first client of the morning, I log in, see if anyone responded to me, see what others are sharing, etc. It helps me cleanse my mental palate between projects.
Then there’s the blogging element (my own blogs — client blogs are factored into billable hours given the nature of my business). I allow myself 20 minutes in the morning to deal with my main blog’s comments and responses. Other blogs wait until client work is finished for the day. If I need to publish a quick news post I’ll allow myself 10-15 minutes to do that, but it’s my “in between” time between other projects instead of logging into Twitter again — not both. For my regular, longer posts I either wait until I finish with client work for the day, or I set aside a full day for managing my own sites and projects (usually once every few weeks at this time). To make the schedule even more effective, I have specific blog posting days (twice per week on my main blog, one on another blog, etc.). Other posts are written by contributors I hire to help me manage the sites.
Sticking to Your Social Media Schedule
I don’t expect that my type of social media schedule will work for every reader here. I definitely understand the need for more structure that some people have. I’m like that myself when it comes to other areas of my business. I couldn’t get through a day without a strict to-do list for example. But the key to being able to stick to a social media schedule rather than letting it overrun your life is to find a system that works for you, your style, and your habits.
Here are a few things you could try:
- Set an alarm to let you know when it’s time to move onto your next project.
- Use tools like Firefox’s BlockSite add-on to block you from accessing sites that you know you waste too much time on — Facebook, Twitter, or a favorite blog perhaps. You can enable the add-on while working on other things, and disable it during your scheduled social media time. Seeing the site is blocked might give you a quick reminder that your attention is needed on something else.
- Ask your network to help keep you in line. Sneaking onto Twitter when you know you shouldn’t be? Ask your followers to shoot you a little note if they see you on again in the next “X” hours when you should be working on another project. Let your network help to hold you more accountable.
Do you have a social media schedule? How strict are you about it? Do you not have one yet, but think it could help you knock out some social media time-wasters? Tell us about your social media schedule (or the one you want to set up), and how you stick to it in the comments below.