We all hear how important it is to be the King (or Queen) of social media. We need to be on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and, of course, Pinterest. But did you ever consider the aspects that might actually be hurting your business?
A number of productivity experts have commented on the idea that we live in 'busyness,' meaning that we feel we are busy because we continually enmesh ourselves in doing things for the sake of doing them, without being cognisant of the actual result. We feel that we have to be on social media so we are, often to our own detriment. Consider these numbers.
According to Empowerednetwork.com, 22% of time spent online is spent on social networking (see article here: http://bit.ly/10PJM9r). People spent twice as much time on Facebook than they did exercising. The average user spends 24 hours a month on a social networking site. Also, the research related to student productivity is alarming as well. According to this piece, the GPA of college students that regularly use Facebook is a full point lower than their peers who do not log on.
One out of ten workers spends more time on the Internet than they do working. Workers are interrupted once every 10.5 minutes with things like IM's and Tweets; once that happens it can take as long as 23 minutes for employees to get back on task.
So what do you do if you need to stay on top of your industry and keep up with your social media? And what if you are a solo entrepreneur trying to market your business? Sometimes we are faced with tough choices: finish the proposal for a new client, or market yourself on social media to get future business. If this sounds like a familiar battle, here are a few ideas to help you control the time you spend on social media:
Make sure you're doing the right things: I realize this is kind of a no-brainer but it's still worth considering. When was the last time you checked your engagement on any of these social sites? Are people responding to you or are you just posting and ditching? Make sure that your message is getting to the right people on the right sites. Maybe you don't have a message that will resonate with Facebook, maybe your people are really on LinkedIn or Google+. Consider taking a close look at how "social" your social networks really are and whether they're really benefiting you.
Scan headlines: Unless you are sitting in a really boring industry that doesn't make a lot of news, we can't possibly keep track of everything that's going on, all the time. That's why I suggest doing a quick scan of your headlines in the morning. You have to be really diligent with this. Delete whatever doesn't immediately spike your interest, read what does. If you spend the morning reading everything in your market you're probably gaining a lot of knowledge, but not a lot of value. Not everything matters. Pay attention to only what does.
Get a media alert system: Since Google Alerts is going away, I've been recommending some new systems (either Talkwalker.com or Mention.net) - both of these sites are very robust and will keep you apprised of any goings on in your market. The keywords you select here will be very important so don't pick a keyword that's too general. Also, you'll probably want to modify these keywords as your market changes. With these services you will get one email, once a day, with every headline and story that the service mentions. Some services will even send you tweets that mention the keywords you're looking for which is also helpful because if your objective is to engage in conversation around a particular keyword, you can dig in as soon as you get the notification email.
Get over FOMO: Many of us suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out); in fact, a number of newspapers have done stories on this. We stay hyper-connected to everything because we're afraid we'll miss something. I can almost guarantee you if it's something major, you'll find out. If it's not, don't worry about it. Get yourself out of the FOMO habit by turning off your devices after a certain hour, or for a certain period of time during the day so you can concentrate on work.
Watch your numbers: Much like point #1, you'll want to watch your numbers closely. Check your social media engagement and make sure that people are, in fact, engaging with you. When we do this we always find places we can enhance or draw back on. Don't waste your time on things that won't matter. A lot of what folks do in social media is also related to FOMO. They want to be "everywhere" because they feel like if they don't, they'll miss out on business, news, speaking gigs, whatever. People don't enter your message through every portal, you'll find that the majority of your customers is on one or maybe two specific social media sites. Be there and ignore the rest.
Limit your time: It's hard to do, but I really recommend that you limit your time to thirty minutes in the morning and thirty minutes at night on social media. Let's face it, we can watch the stream of conversation all day but if we do, we're losing valuable time that we could be investing elsewhere.
Busy vs. productive: We're being constantly bombarded with "busy" messages. Consumers are busy, we're busy, everyone is busy - but are we busy or productive? The two aren't the same. If spending too much time on social media is limiting your productivity, you have a problem. Often before each task I'll ask myself whether this is just part of being busy, or if it is productive. Is the task leading somewhere or just keeping me on the constant loop of "busy?" Imagine how much more free time you'd have if you pulled back and assessed busy vs. productive for everything you do at work. It's great to be busy. Better to be busy than to be sitting around waiting for the phone to ring, but we often associate success with being busy. If you're not accomplishing anything, then being busy is, well, just being busy. The problem with social media is that it "feels" busy which can be a bit deceptive.
Consider outsourcing: If you feel like you can't handle everything you need to do in social media, considering hiring someone who can help you reach your goals. Social media experts and assistants are popping up everywhere. If you want a recommendation go onto LinkedIn and put out a call for some resources. LinkedIn can be a fantastic place to find new vendors, by the way. Recently I put out a call for a collection agency and found some really amazing companies. People on LinkedIn love making recommendations so go there if you're trying to find someone.
Productivity experts will often encourage shutting down your Internet or turning off email to help you focus. While these ideas are great, there's still a huge time-suck that is social media. It's part of what we need to do to gain exposure and new business, but it can also be a serious detriment to our success. Finding a balance between being "social" and being productive isn't always easy, but it's a balance worth striking.
Follow Penny C. Sansevieri on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bookgal