Switching off to be more productive with social media

My personal goal has been to schedule “switch off” time to be able to think, ponder and create in 2017. Admittedly that is easier said then done for someone in marketing and media. But after tallying the results of my survey (thank you all who participated), I’ve come to realize I’m not alone in this need to switch off. In fact, the number one issue identified was: How can I spend less time and get more results on social media? Too many people are running to keep up. And too many people are participating without a plan.

So this week I thought I would share some tools I’ve used to save time and switch off, while still getting results and keeping up with social media.

My first acquisition was an alarm clock to get the cell phone off the bedside table.

I had noticed a slow, seeping trend to wake in the morning and spend time cruising Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram, as well as checking email. It was also increasing something I checked at length before going to bed. This of course was in addition to checking in on social media throughout the day, responding to notifications. I love social media, but it was all getting a bit much. It was connecting me for sure, but the morning social media check in was taking away valuable time and priorities. Time management is a challenge, and social media can be a huge taker, without giving back unless you are strategic. Now with notifications turned off, an alarm on my bedside table, and structure throughout the day to check in only during certain windows, I am feeling lighter already. I am walking the dog for that 30 minutes in the morning, and with my brain clear with the empty slate of nature and the perspective of a dog sniffing along, it is amazing what creativity now bubbles to the top, ready to be initiated back at my office laptop later in the morning.

Think I’m alone in this frustration about the time we spend on social media and our phones? Hardly. A recent Bank of America Trends in Consumer Mobility reported that 71% of Americans who own a cell phone sleep with the phone beside their bed, and 35% reported looking at their phone was the first thing they did upon waking. The phone and social media has also seeped into the rest of our day. 23% said they check their phone every few minutes, and 29% said they check it every 5-10 minutes. Throughout the day, more than half of Americans, about 57%, say they use their phone at least once an hour. In New York and California that statistic jumped to 90%. Even on vacation, people still seem to be tethered to their mobile device: only 7% of Americans said they unplug completely. These stats, while shocking on a personal perspective, are potentially good news for those who want to use social media to engage customers with business and products.

But back to the clock. Who knew it would be so hard to find an alarm? The look of confusion on the face of the Visions employee who shrugged and said, “just use your cell phone, that’s what everyone else does.” Or the Walmart gal who showed me huge units for playing music with clocks and alarms, and looked at me all weird when I said I didn’t want to be able to do anything else but tell time.

I finally scored at The Source. But only after resisting numerous attempts to up sell me when I took my dusty little travel alarm box to the till, musing how I had found it beside the AM/FM battery radios, also sorely neglected on a back shelf.

The first step in managing social media is self-control and focus, and the alarm clock was a huge piece for me.

I get asked all the time – how to get results from social media without wasting a lot of time. I think the first thing to get clear on is management of YOUR OWN TIME on it. Then move on to the strategy of who is your target, where they are, and what are your objectives, along with tools to manage timely posting and monitoring. It’s only in those quiet moments walking the dog, running, sipping coffee without a phone at a café, or just being in nature that you will come up with the great ideas of how you’ll actually engage creatively on social media, or generate useful content. Social media and cell phones are amazing tools. They just need to be managed well.

Here are a few other tips to be more productive with social media:

1. Block your time and guard it – to create and post. I personally write on Friday mornings for my enewsletter and blog and schedule content for Sunday morning, then use a scheduling tool to post content throughout the week. I set up my scheduling during a block of time on Monday morning.

2. Use tools – to be efficient with posting and monitoring time. Buffer, Everypost and Hootsuite allow you to monitor all your platforms on one dashboard, as well as schedule posted content throughout the week. I personally use Hootsuite. They’re a Vancouver based company where I live, but have had phenomenal success internationally. I wish I had stock!

3. Schedule tech time in your day. Turning notifications off can feel like a risk, and it might not work for you. But they are eye candy that will draw you in. If you choose when to connect, instead of allowing the device to drive your behavior, productivity will soar. You will also keep your time priorities to your own goals, rather then responding to the goals of others.

4. Have a plan – strategy, and objectives to measure. Be very clear on your target, what platforms they are on, and the objectives for the content you are sharing. Focus on one or two primary platforms and do them well. Monitor and measure with analytics what works.

5. Get an alarm clock. Seriously, it works! And email me what you plan to do with the extra time you will now have in the morning.

I want to thank those who took the time to nominate this blog for the 8th Annual Top 10 Social Media Blog Contest by Social Media Examiner. I am humbled to have received many endorsements. There are some pretty big names in the pot for sure, but I’m thrilled to even be acknowledged on the same page. I’ll let you know how it goes in the coming weeks after the judges make their decision.

Thanks again for being here every week as this community grows.

Think. Ponder. Create. Connect online if it brings you joy or is strategic. And always make time to connect in person. That’s what effective management of social media in 2017 should be about. Until next week…

Mary Charleson

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