I had a dream about Twitter last week. It wasn’t good or bad, just literal, which is the worst kind of dream. I was thinking about something while asleep that I spend a significant portion of my day thinking about while awake and that, my friends, is depressing.
While I hope I’m the only one counting chirping blue birds before I fall asleep, I doubt I’m the only one feeling a little overwhelmed by the volume of social media opportunities and output. What’s the best way to manage the constant stream of information and the myriad platforms available?
To be honest, this is something I still need to get better at (obviously). Social media prioritization and time management can be notoriously difficult — anyone on Twitter or Facebook can probably testify to what I like to call the “social media black hole.” It will suck you right in. You settle in at your computer, cup of coffee in hand, and before you know it two hours has gone by, your coffee is cold, and your eyes hurt from staring at a glowing screen. This is even more difficult when social media is an important part of your job and your company’s marketing strategy. So how do you combat it?
Here are three steps to keep you swimming in the social media ocean without drowning in it.
1. Do an audit of your social media presence and then prioritize.
As with most things in life, you have to understand how you’re already doing before you can get better. A social media “audit” and subsequent prioritization can help you understand how you’re currently spending your time and where you can improve. I think this is especially important if you’re managing social media for your company, since all of the outlets and platforms can quickly feel overwhelming.
An audit can be as simple as a Word or Excel document naming the channels, who manages them, and where the majority of your time is spent. It can then go further, listing the current community numbers, interactions, and site referrals for each. This should give you a good idea of where you should be spending more (or less) time.
A word of caution: just because a social media channel isn’t delivering yet doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your time. Do some competitor research and see where the most robust communities are. Maybe you haven’t been utilizing Pinterest to its full potential or perhaps you need to spend less time on Tumblr and more on Google Plus. Experiment a bit to see what works, but don’t be afraid to reprioritize as necessary.
2. Make the most of lists and groups.
This is something I’ve vowed to focus more on this quarter. It takes time, but I think it’s one of the most effective ways to filter through the social media noise and better target your conversations and content. Break your Twitter connections into lists by specialty and track member tweets. Share their content and reach out to specific people when you have content you think they might be interested in. Explore tools like Triberr as another good way of connecting to like-minded individuals.
The same goes for LinkedIn Groups and Google Plus Communities — create your own and invite people whose opinions you care about. Join groups focused around content that interests you. There’s no need to consume content from everyone at once.
3. Set aside social media time (and social media down time!).
Set aside a block of time each day to focus on social media — I recommend trying for earlier in the day if possible. Whether it’s 15 minutes or two hours, this is your time to respond, interact, post, and schedule. If you’re managing multiple accounts and not using a scheduling tool like HootSuite, I don’t know how you’re staying sane. Having one place to preschedule posts and browse all feeds, mentions, conversations, etc. will help you get the most out of that block of time.
You need to get over the fear of missing something. Yes, social media is 24/7, but you are not. You still need uninterrupted work time, even if social media is your main focus. If you don’t log off, when are you going to find the time to strategize and refocus as needed?