Wasting time – we all do it. An email arrives that interrupts what we were doing, and we decide to deal with it “just to get rid of it”. Meanwhile a half hour later, we’ve lost our focus, barely get back on track and another interruption hits. Welcome to the workday of many. Layer on top of it the multiple story lines developing on Facebook with friends or family, and the desire to check on various media sites of interest throughout your day that could be either work or personal focused and you can appreciate how exhausting it is to communicate on multiple channels. And if you need to actually use social media as a work related communication channel, it can be even more challenging to cut through the clutter and not waste time.
Here are some tips based on what I do. It may not work for everyone, and my objectives may be different than yours, but it’s an example of how I have compartmentalized the task.
1. Have a focus and a goal.
Know who your audience is. For me that’s entrepreneurs, small business, those working in the marketing field and students. I tap into what they need, and then share knowledge to help them. The end goal is to be seen as a valuable resource, that if positioned well, will lead to future business. It’s totally a soft sell approach.
2. Know your tools.
I use my blog to share knowledge, grow a following and anchor a digital footprint and search ranking. I’ve been blogging for 6 years, and I also share online via my website, columns written in various print publications over the last 11 years such as Business in Vancouver, Strategy Magazine, Marketing Magazine and the Toronto Star. I use social media to broadcast blog material, articles, and other things of interest online to my audience. I’m careful to pick the social media tools where my audience plays. For me, that’s Facebook, Twitter and LindedIn primarily, plus some Google plus. I use an e-newsletter to engage directly with more closely associated followers.
3. Be consistent.
I post to the blog once a week, more often only if there is something newsworthy. I send an e-newsletter once a week, on the same day, at the same time. Consistency is key. It demonstrates predictable support.
4. Manage your media.
I use Hootsuite to post and schedule a weeks worth of material. It allows me to do it all at once, but appear to have staggered my approach throughout the week. It also allows me to view all channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+) on one dashboard to monitor it. I also use Nutshell from Constant Contact, which sends me an email in the morning and the afternoon (you can set it for any frequency you wish), that allows me to see in quick view form, a summary of the top updates from all my platforms. I am able to skim, read what I’m able to at the time, then hit delete. It gives me piece of mind that I’ve viewed most things important, but not have spent a lot of precious time doing it.
5. Budget your time, guard it ruthlessly.
I set aside time in my calendar, a specific day and several hour window to do my weekly work: blog post, e-news and social media push out scheduled on Hootsuite. I guard that time like an important meeting. Then when the window has expired, I put it away. I have also found that getting up an hour earlier with coffee in hand, I can write for an hour uninterrupted before my day really starts, and bank material to be used on my blog and in my e-newsletter. It’s an immensely satisfying routine. The key is to not check your emails or go on social media prior to writing, which can be a challenge if you wake up to an alarm on your smartphone. I’ve recently taken to getting an old fashioned alarm clock because of this, and leaving my iPhone charging in my office. Discipline works. Email and social media alone will suck away a hour+ of your day, and push some things to the top of your priority list that could have easily waited an hour or so. I also keep a notepad of writing ideas gestating throughout the week to make the task of writing easy. Or if inspiration hits me out walking the dog or doing the Grouse Grind, I record it as a voice memo on my iPhone.
That’s what works for me. I’d love to hear about your approach. Since our time is so precious, it really has become increasingly important to have a plan to manage social media. The only thing certain is the appearance of more media tools in the future that will battle for our attention!