In today’s world, social media is a key component of any and every business strategy. However, just because it’s key doesn’t mean it’s king.
You need to invest time and energy into maintaining your social media presence and content, but social media doesn’t need to rule your work schedule.
Here are five easy ways to improve your social media productivity so it doesn’t take over your day:
1. Utilize the App
As with most endeavors, there is likely an app, tool or service to help you organize, streamline or fast-track your task or goal.
HootSuite is a popular tool that allows you to manage multiple social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.) in one space. Now you no longer have to juggle multiple browser tabs to try to keep up with your social media efforts, instead you can view them all in one place.
One of HootSuite’s most popular features is the ability to schedule your posts in advance. Scheduling posts allows you to work in more concentrated bursts to prepare your posts and updates for the day, rather than stopping and starting in bursts to manually post at specific times. HootSuite does have limitations (it doesn’t connect to every single social media site out there), but does have a number of beneficial features and is approachable and accessible.
If This Then That (IFTTT) is another helpful service that connects multiple social media sources. IFTTT specializes in recipes that follow its name: if this, then that. IFTTT’s recipes help relieve users of some of the mundane, time-consuming tasks associated with managing their social media accounts. Perhaps you create a recipe to have the comments on your blog trigger a notification to your phone. Maybe posting a picture to Facebook will trigger the same photo showing up on your Tumblr.
There are other apps and services that can help schedule your updates or narrow down your social media to-do list; find the service that best suits your needs and you will find yourself with a significant amount of time saved.
2. Play to the Strengths of Each Network
A lot of time wasted results from treating all social media sites in the same way. Yet each site offers a unique role and, often, a unique audience
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. each have fundamental differences in their functionality and purpose, so don’t take a one size fits all approach to your social media. Because of these differences, scheduling and content will differ for each site.
For example, your Twitter account might be well served by six or ten updates a day; the same cannot be said for Facebook or Instagram. So why waste time trying to churn out an equal amount of posts for each site? Instead, limit yourself to two or three updates for Facebook and Instagram and free up more time to craft the pitchiest, most memorable tweets.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to create completely unique content for each site. Rather, you should make sure that your content is properly matched to each site’s niche. For example, if you’re marketing for a well-known women’s clothing outlet, you might post a shot of you modeling your new duds on Instagram and pin a link to your favorite items on a Pinterest board.
Meanwhile you may be using Twitter to alert others to the deal you snagged and posting a slightly longer review of the item’s quality or your shopping experience on Facebook. It’s a matter of breaking the content into manageable chunks targeted at specific networks, rather than creating brand new content for each site.
3. Budget Your Time
Social media can be a distraction and a time waster, even when it’s a key component of your job. Personal updates from family or friends and the “just one more” rabbit trail of links and YouTube videos are a distraction to every user. However, constantly checking your feeds for professional reasons can be a waste of time as well.
There’s no need to stay plugged in to social media all day every day. Instead, schedule regular and limited blocks of time to manage your accounts. Try scheduling three 15 to 20-minute periods throughout the day: first thing in the morning, before or after your lunch break, and right before you clock out.
Setting aside time specifically for social media means that you can give your full concentration to checking in on your feeds and scheduling/uploading your content in those periods of time. The rest of the day is then free from the distraction of social media, allowing you to concentrate on writing that review or blog post, instead of being constantly distracted by open media tabs.
4. Curate Content
While much of your content will be affiliate related, you can build in some breathing room by curating content.
It’s fairly simple: find relevant or engaging content and repost/retweet/link it. It gives your audience a bit of a break from your regular updates while still drawing attention and encouraging engagement. What you curate and how frequently you curate will depend on your style and your needs; like everything else, it’s not one size fits all.
However, there is one simple, key rule for curating: always credit the source. Don’t try to pass curated content off as original! It’s poor form and is likely to cost you both followers and credibility.
5. Make Good Use of the Time You Save
Time saved can be put to use in seemingly infinite ways, but why not funnel it back into the same task?
Once you utilize services and solidify routines that will help you save time, why not use that time to attend to other aspects of your social media presence? Perhaps you’ve streamlined your process to the point that you only use one or two of your 15-minute increments for uploading or scheduling content. Why not use that remaining block of time to invest in the social aspect of social media?
Creating content is all well and good, but if you aren’t cultivating relationships, you aren’t cultivating readership. Use the time you’ve freed up to interact with followers, clients and fellow businesses. Reply to comments, start conversations and work on building relationships. Slip in a few personal details (but not too personal!); the more we feel we know a person, the more invested we are in what they have to say.
You don’t have to be at social media’s beck and call. With a few simple tools and tweaks, you can make social media fit your schedule, instead of the other way around.
Image by Jason A. Howie