One undeniable fact about using social media is that it takes a lot of time and effort. Whilst the cheapskates among us are happy to trade the low cost of social media marketing for large amounts of time and energy, I think we can all agree that saving time is never a bad thing.
As with nearly any online task, social media can be a time gobbler as we get distracted by notifications, conversations and news. So, let’s take a look at three ways to make our social media use more productive and less of a time-suck.
1. Make a plan
It may seem like social media is such an informal, nascent area that jumping right in is the best way to get started. To be fair, this can be a great way to learn–interacting with others, asking questions, and observing communities can show you a lot about how to get the best out of your social media strategy.
Making a plan is a great way to cover your bases. It helps you take the resources you have available (whether that’s funding, time, or team members) and use them effectively. Map out your week (or month) with the amount of time you have to spend on your social media strategy each day.
You can also break this down into development (creating and sharing original content) and maintenance (engaging with others and sharing related content).
Of course, a plan has to be flexible, so mark a time to review your plan and adjust it, based on your results. Once you have a routine that works, stick to it to give your strategy (and you!) more consistency.
Scheduling posts and updates for your social media profiles is nothing new. There are a variety of tools to help you do this–social media dashboards like Seesmic and Hootsuite let you manually schedule updates to be sent at a later time.
A newer app on the scene is Buffer, which allows you to pre-set a posting schedule of up to 11 times during the day. Using the browser extension, updates can be added to your queue to be sent to Facebook or Twitter at pre-scheduled times.
(Disclaimer: I really like Buffer. In case you couldn’t tell.)
The benefits of using scheduling apps are that you can send regular status updates and posts when you’re not online. This means you can set a small block of time during the day to fill up your schedule with content and updates, leaving these trusty apps to space them out for you. This gives you a more consistent social media presence, without taking up more of your time.
For more scheduling apps, check out this list at Make Use Of.
3. Use alerts
If you have the nasty habit that I do of checking your social networks for new updates way too often, setting alerts can help you overcome this. Most mobile social network apps let you change the frequency of notifications, and even which activities you are notified for. This means you can turn off updates for your Facebook news feed, for instance, but set up alerts for new notifications or messages.
Changing the update interval can help you focus on the work at hand without letting your mind wander to your social media accounts. Plus, having email or mobile alerts for activities like new mentions or messages will give you peace of mind that you won’t miss anything while you’re getting the ‘real work’ done.
I have to admit – I’m still working on cutting back my Twitter-refresh habit, but this is definitely a strategy that’s helping.
Have you got any other tips that have helped you increase your productivity? How do you schedule time spent on your social media strategy to get the best results? Leave a comment and let us know!
Photo credit: Joan M. Mas