Social media can be effective both for personal and business networking (and even for marketing). But there are so many social media sites and tools that it can also sometimes feel overwhelming. They key to getting the most out of social media without wanting to throw in the towel is to find the right social media time split.
Here are three things to think about when deciding how much time you really want to spend on social media sites and how much time to devote to each tool.
Who do you want to network with (and where do they spend time)?
In the end, social media is about building and maintaining relationships with a specific group of people. That might mean anything from your company’s target customers to your old friends from college.
Before leaping onto the next trend in social media just because everyone’s talking about it, figure out if your own network is actively using the tool. There’s little point in wasting time with a social media site if the people you want to connect with aren’t there.
Even if they use more than one tool, where do they keep in touch in a way that you’re comfortable with? For example, if you want substantial conversations you might go with something like Google Plus over Twitter. If you only care about discussing certain things, see if they’re active in a niche community so you can cut out some of the other social networking noise.
How much time do you have?
Like it or not, we only have so many hours in a day. And they can’t all be spent on social media sites (at least not without sacrificing other important things in life). How much time do you really have available for this?
Don’t promise yourself that you’ll spend two hours every morning on social media sites if you can barely sacrifice 15 minutes. Any extra time has to come from somewhere. Make sure you spend it where it matters most.
If you have time for long daily conversations, that’s great. If you only have a few minutes to skim updates and respond, check out tools like microblogging services (like Twitter).
What are your social media goals?
Equally important, you should consider your goals for your time spent with social media. If you just want to catch up with friends, that won’t involve as big of a time commitment as a goal of growing your customer base through social media tools.
Are your goals realistic given the other things you’ve already looked into (like the time you can devote and how active your target network is)? It’s better to work out realistic goals based on those things than try to make extra time you don’t have or waste it where members of your network don’t hang out anyway.
How do you handle the social media time split while keeping your sanity? Do social media sites ever interfere with other things that they shouldn’t? What advice would you give to someone about improving their time management skills when it comes to social media? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.