One of the challenges of social media management is undoubtedly staying focused.
There are a lot of distractions on social media sites. After all, they’re built to be friendly spaces where we’re hanging out with interesting people. So while you’re maintaining your Facebook Page or sending some important tweets, it’s easy to become dragged off-task. You might get caught up with the latest news, come across an article that you just have to read now, join a hashtag chat, or find yourself building a new meme poster …
Pinterest is said to be a particularly ‘sticky’ site where users tend to spend a lot of time in one sitting exploring colourful boards that seem to go on forever. Similar things happen in Wikipedia, where there’s hyperlink after hyperlink and reference after cross-reference for you to follow.
So how do you cope when social media management is part of your job?
It will all depend on your role, and how much social media is embedded within that.
For the social media professional – aka Community Manager – interacting on a personal and professional level throughout the day is part of life and something they’re adept at juggling. In many cases, a lot of their ‘personal’ online networking does in fact revolve around keeping up with social media news and keeping abreast of social media norms and etiquette. And they will probably more than make up for it by working on weekends and evenings.
But what if social media isn’t your full time gig? What if you’re a marketing coordinator or a PR officer who has had “social media” added to a long list of responsibilities on your job and person spec? You might be the business owner, who’s also the company face online.
If you find yourself looking at old high school photographs on Facebook when you’re supposed to be posting on your Facebook business page, here are some tips:
- Have a documented plan, with objectives outlining why you’re using social media. Your plan will remind you of what you’re supposed to be achieving and can drag you out of distracting conversations. If your social media plan contains a content calendar, even better. That will give you the content ideas to enable you to swiftly post updates, check on your community, and then leave. Summarise your plan in bullet points, print it out, and stick it near your keyboard.
- Close the web browser tabs for your social media sites. I know some people keep them open all day – I do. But if you find that your Facebook or Pinterest tab is singing out to you continually while you’re supposed to be writing a news release or making some phone calls, shut those tabs down.
- Keep a record of how much time you spend on social media sites. If you had a Facebook post to share today, how long did it actually take you to do that? Did you roam Facebook and get drawn into friend’s posts? Watch the clock and when you see the time you’re spending, you can address whether it’s a problem.
- Look at the social media tools you’re using. Some are more conducive to personal distractions than others. You might prefer to use a social media dashboard like Hootsuite for example, rather than spend time in the Facebook platform, where the ticker pops up to tell you what your Friends have been doing.
- Consider scheduling posts, to do a raft of social media work in one hit. (Beware of using these exclusively however, because it’s also important to spend time in your network of choice to maintain conversations with others rather than relying on broadcasting.)
I should emphasise: I’m not saying social media is a waste of time. Not at all.
Time spent roaming outside of your social media business accounts can be time well spent. You might discover new ways to use a platform. You might participate in a new conversation, or even meme, that’s relevant to your business. You might make new connections on a personal level that will be fruitful to your business over the longer term.
But when you’ve missed deadlines or turned up late to appointments because you’ve been LOLing at cat videos, you know you need to address your time management …
I’m sure you’ll have more tips to share.
Or do you find that social media doesn’t distract you at all? Are you able to maintain a divide?