It’s not going to go away is it? Whether you participate in social networking or are still watching, it’s time out of your day and oh so easy to be distracted for 2 hours when you only intended to spend five minutes. If this sounds familiar then read on! I often say that eventually marketing will re-balance itself as the world demands that we do more business online, then marketing becomes more online as traditional activity declines.
Even if I’m right, we’re not there yet and in some areas I’m not sure we ever will be, networking for example. I rave about LinkedIn and use it heavily, I also think that social networking generally has brought many advantages to marketers. We can find out so much more in these networks globally, in minutes what used to take weeks, months or years to discover. But in business we still also need that face to face contact at some point and we should be networking online. Do you find people now asking you when they meet you, if you’re on LinkedIn? I know I do.
Then there’s keeping up-to-date with news and content in your area of expertise, through following blogs, news, articles and the other way around – you should be submitting articles, writing blogs and generally joining in where relevant. And for good measure, you should also be tracking mentions of your brand to highlight any potential issues for customer service or just to measure where and how often you’re appearing.
All of that takes time and you’re probably also trying to get on with your day job, the real work that wins and keeps you in business. Unless you’re naturally very organised, time management has to be addressed so we don’t expire under the weight of lists of things “to do”. I’ve pulled together some useful tips on how to keep up with social media and still get those other things done in the day.
- Accept that social media should be on your list of things to do. It’s easy to sit at your computer to start the day and instantly be pulled into the latest tweets, updating your Facebook page or reading a blog as they all suddenly become important when you switch on. If they’re not on your list they become a time-waster as you haven’t prepared for them and now you’ve borrowed time from something else you’re supposed to be doing.
- Find the right social networks for your business which are most likely to give you a return in the long term. If your customers or potential customers aren’t in the networks you’re following, is it a good use of your time?
- Get it in your diary. However you manage your day, allocate a slot for specific social media activity. For example it might be easier for you to blog at the end of the day once your other things are done, and if you use Twitter, you’ll need to update several times a day ideally, so schedule this in allowing a bit extra time to check and read your time-line. A good way to do this is with ever coffee break I’ve found, but it does depend on how many of those you have!
- Make a plan for the bigger social marketing stuff, like blogging for example. I don’t mean a 20 page document, just a timetable on one page with blog title, date and who is writing it (if there’s more than one of you). As I write several blogs, I keep my timetable at the front of my diary so it’s a constant reminder. It also means that the next subject is in my head and being thought about before I sit down and write it. I’m convinced this also saves me time. This also works for email marketing.
- Develop a social media strategy. Particularly useful if you’re involved in several social networks for business and if other employees in your organisation are also participating. This should include guidelines on when and how often, as well as tone to be adopted, measurement and so on. This has an impact on time because it’s tangible when it’s in black and white and you know exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.
- Use an aggregator tool to keep everything on one place. Good ones are Tweetdeck or Netvibes. These enable you to see all of your social media updates on one screen which saves time with nipping in and out of different networks.
- Rate your social media activity in order of priority just as you would for other items on your to do list. In other words, is it urgent and important enough to be the first thing you do today?
There’s an element of trial and error in this of course. I started out trying to do my social networking at the end of each day and discovered that it often got missed. I now try to schedule it earlier in the day where possible. I’ve also discovered that I blog particularly well on a Sunday! I suspect this is down to fewer distractions, but it works so why not? Which tips for time management and social media work for you?