Social Media – a distraction?
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, and dozens of other social media marketing technologies are vying for our attention on daily basis.
So hands up if this has ever happened to you.
Be honest now.
While you have every intention of spending only a ‘few’ minutes checking your social media profiles, those well-intentioned ‘few minutes’ turn into (dare you admit it) an hour – or even longer.
Me? Guilty as charged.
In fact, this can happen to me more frequently than I care to admit.
I LOVE social media technologies, which means I can quite happily sit and chat with my online network for hours, while spending time clicking through link after link reading (and commenting on) the plethora of great content shared each and every day.
Combine that with my love of marketing and I’m in seventh heaven.
For me, social media plays a key role in my communications and business growth strategies allowing me to connect and share information about branding, money mindset, marketing and other business-building topics I’m passionate about with my community.
However I quickly realised that I am not one of these people who can function for days without sleep. So sitting at my keyboard for days on end just wasn’t an option for me.
I needed to put some hard and fast systems and processes into place to keep me focused and accountable to ensure I could balance my social media marketing activities as well as my general day-to-day business operations and client commitments.
Are you at the stage where your love of social media is starting to affect your productivity? Or are you struggling to fit everything in to your day already without even thinking about social media? So where on earth are you going to find the extra time?
Here are some of the systems and tools that I use which I’m pleased to say have allowed me to drastically improve my productivity while also enabling me to maintain an active presence on various social media platforms.
If I can do it – so can you!
Let’s start with my three key social media rules. I do have other rules, but these three are crucial if you want to gain the best results out of your social media activities, while maintain your productivity levels:
Social Media Rule 1: Develop a social media strategy and follow it
While it was wonderful to chat and share information with my online community I realised very early on that if I didn’t have a specific strategy and system in place, opportunities were being lost.
Yes, I realise that social media is meant to be ‘social’.
However if you are in business to make money (and I assume you are) then it’s important to have a strategy in place. A strategy that will help you nurture the relationships you are building so that you can convert those relationships into prospects and eventually into clients.
If you haven’t got a strategy in place yet, here are some things you need to ask yourself:
- Do you have a clear understanding of your brand, what makes you unique and why clients should hire you?
- Are you targeting a specific niche? Or is your target market ‘everyone’. If the latter, you need to define a specific target market and concentrate on becoming known as an expert in that field.
- Do you have an irresistible offer that helps you build your list on a daily basis? And are you constantly reminding your community of this amazing resource so that people you’ve recently connected with are aware of it?
- Do you have a strategic keep-in-touch communication strategy in place that continues to strengthen the relationships with people you are meeting online so that they get to know, like and trust you?
- Are you regularly creating content to showcase your knowledge? Building your reputation as an expert in your field will ensure you are the person they’ll want to work with when they’re ready to invest.
- Do you have a monitoring and tracking system in place? How do you know what’s working and what’s not working? You may be spending hours on an activity that hardly generates any return, yet ignoring an activity that’s working well for you. How will you know if you don’t monitor it?
- Do you have a plan in place that regularly drives people back to your website? I use my Brand Positioning Principle, which is based on a formula that I’ve developed over the years, which is working extremely well for me. This formula works strategically in the background and continuously has people commenting on my articles; retweeting my posts; and signing up for my free offer and other programs.
- Are you regularly sharing and interacting with people in your network or is the conversation you are having only one way and constantly self-promotional? If it is, then that’s the quickest way to lose trust and rapport and you’re probably finding many people are unfriending you. You need to know and follow social media etiquette principles.
I could go on; however these are some of the more important things you need to have in place to give you a solid start.
Social Media Rule 2: Get a Support Team
If you ever figure out how to add an extra few hours to the day – let me know!
I realised that I couldn’t do everything myself, so I’ve built a solid support team to take over some of the repetitive administrative tasks.
As a Brand Communications Specialist, one of the things I will never hire out is my ‘Brand Voice’ (i.e. having people manage my social media accounts and liaise with my network as if they were me).
Here’s how my team support me:
- Schedule the posts I have written
- Perform my bookmarking
- Upload my blog posts ready for my final review
- Upload my newsletter in preparation for broadcasting
- Broadcast my newsletters
So, what are some of the repetitive tasks that you can outsource that will allow you to concentrate on more important tasks in your business?
Social Media Rule 3: Be Consistent in everything you do
If I were to perform an Online Brand Audit, would I find a consistent, professional message? Or would I end up confused (and even put off) by the information (i.e. Digital Dirt) I uncovered?
Consistency is vital, so make sure you:
- Share a consistent on-brand message that continues to position you as an authority in your field. From your bios right through to your posts – be on-brand.
- Use keywords that are relevant to your target market to make sure that the people you are connecting with are genuinely interested in what you have to say.
While you may be tempted to connect with anyone and everyone, having thousands of followers who are not interested in what you have to say, is pointless.
- Be consistent in the amount of content you share and number of times you post. Social media is not a set and forget activity. You have to be there to manage, measure and tweak. If you believe that you can post once and expect a flood of orders – you’re going to be sadly mistaken.
My Social Media Productivity Tips:
These are things I do regularly and they have worked brilliantly in keeping me focused and accountable:
- If you’re working on something important – turn the [darn] social media accounts off by logging out.
This tip isn’t rocket science, but I’m surprised how many people don’t do this. Every time they see a new alert on Facebook, or hear the alarm on Tweetdeck, they just can’t help themselves and need to check out who the message is from.
STOP! Log out of all your accounts – they’ll be there when you get back.
- Set yourself time limits to respond and share and stick with them:
– 5 minutes on Twitter
– 5 minutes on Facebook Personal Profile
– 5 minutes on Facebook Business Page
Use the timer on your iPhone and as soon as the alarm goes off – log out of your accounts. This works a treat for me, as I end up having little competitions with myself. “How much can I get done before the timer goes off.” It’s amazing just how focused you become when you know you’re on a deadline.
- Know the best time of your day and make sure you schedule your most important tasks during that time.
Early mornings are the best time for me, so I schedule article writing during that time before I check my emails or any of my social media accounts.
Then throughout the day I’ll spend a few minutes checking my accounts to see what updates there are. However the main point is that this is timed and I’m being accountable for the time I’m spending online.
Social Media Automation & Management Tools
Here are some of the tools and strategies that I love and use:
I love Hootsuite and have been using the free account with much success. [In fact I’ve only just this week upgraded to their paid account, however you can certainly use Hootsuite free account.]
I use Hootsuite to schedule my tweets (which my assistant now does for me), which leads into point 2 (next).
Hootsuite allows me to access all of my social media profiles, including multiple Twitter accounts, my LinkedIn Groups, my Facebook Personal Account, and my Facebook business page all from one convenient location.
No more logging in and out of different accounts – I can do everything from one easy location. If you haven’t checked out Hootsuite yet, I highly recommend that you do.
2. Link Twitter to your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts so that one post is shared across multiple sites.
Some people believe that this will become annoying for your followers if they see the same message being posted across different platforms.
None of my followers have complained about this to me yet. And, I’ve found that with the amount of information being shared on these platforms, there’s little chance they will see my post across multiple platforms.
I’ve also found that people have their unique preferences as to the platforms they prefer and therefore tend to spend most of their time on this platform.
I want to make sure I reach them, so limiting my sharing of information on a single platform risks the chance of them never seeing my post.
One word of caution about LinkedIn: it’s less ‘social’ and more professional in nature so be mindful of what you share. I share business-related tips, tools and strategies so these resources are helpful and very much appreciated by my community.
3. Audio Boo:
I love speaking (hence why I host the Ambitious Entrepreneur Show), however another way I like to share information is through sound bytes of helpful information using Audio Boo.
The app is installed on my iPhone, and once a week (or more if I feel so inspired) I will record a 2-4 minute audio, which is saved and automatically uploaded to the Audio Boo website and then shared out to my Twitter and Facebook streams.
Can’t get any easier than that.
Here’s an Audio Boo I prepared earlier 🙂
4: Facebook Business Page to Twitter Stream
I love the community I’m building on my Facebook Business page and while I’m regularly sharing resources with my community on this platform, I want to make sure my Twitter followers hear about the same resources.
Therefore I’ve installed the Facebook Business Page to Twitter application, which automatically shares my Facebook post to my Twitter stream.
So there you have it. The tools and resources I use to ensure that social media does not reduce my productivity.
What Are Other People Doing to Remain Productive?
I’ve also reached out to some of my colleagues and asked them what they do. I’m sure you’ll also find these tips helpful.
Keri Jaehnig does the following to maintain her productivity:
- I use Hootsuite to monitor & interact (except on Facebook – I try to do that all organically). On Hootsuite I use lists to keep conversation straight.
- Workflowy — Don’t know what I did without it! This helps me organize my thoughts, keep checklists — Even share notes with friends if I want. (workflowy.com)
- I keep a paper list of my top small handful of targeted to-do items so that it is always looking at me, urging me to stay on track.
- I’m starting to use timers and self-kept deadlines for interacting/socializing.
So, what do you think? What tools or strategies are you going to use to ensure your social media efforts doesn’t pose a distraction thus reducing your productivity?
Perhaps you have another great tool you are using? Or strategy/process you’ve found helpful.
Go ahead and share below – I’d love to hear from you!
Till next time, Stay Inspired!
Hi Annemarie, I can’t help with any tips as I am in the position of seriously needing them 🙂 And so, just wanted to say a big thanks for this article – it’s been extremely helpful. I’m looking forward to checking out those tools, especially workflowy and although I use hootsuite I am not sure of all its capabilities yet. Also timing oneself, as you’ve said, is also a tried and true method of enforcing a little discipline.
Hi Rachel, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!
I’m so pleased you enjoyed the article and will be trying out some of these tips. I love Hootsuite and am so glad I decided to make a switch. [I was using Tweetdeck – which is another great tool]. However with Hootsuite I can manage multiple social media accounts and not just my Twitter accounts. I believe Hootsuite will also be integrating with Google+ – which is exciting.
Let me know how you go with these tools. [In the 5 minutes you now will be setting up for your social media networking of course 🙂 ]
Fabulously well presented argument for a social media strategy AnnMarie.
Planning has always been the bane of business, and I believe the stats still hold that a majority of businesses do not have any kind of business or marketing plan.
if you add social media addiction to the lack of a plan, how many people are using up countless hours in what amounts to a random approach to their marketing.
Hours are precious. We need to make them count in business, there is so much else we can do with the time. So your call for a strategic approach to social media marketing is great, clear and succinct advice. Everyone would be well advised to read it.
Hi Sandy, you are so right. Hours ARE precious and if we don’t set up a system to keep us focused and on track – we can find ourselves unfortunately squandering those hours. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. It’s lovely to meet you!
The 3 rules you outlined are extremely important for freelancers like me especially ‘Rule 3: Be consistent”. When I am in between projects, I find myself wasting a lot of time on social media. But when I am busy, I disappear from social media….inconsistent! Thanks for a great post.
It’s an important reminder for us all Claudia. I’m glad you enjoyed the article!
WOW, this is such a great article and this is also the first time I visit your great ebsite. Bookmarking as I write! Thank you so much for your advice Annemarie! 🙂
Hi Solvita, welcome! It’s a pleasure to meet you! I’m so pleased you enjoyed the article. I’m always looking for ways at improving systems and processes and have found these things can certainly help maintain my focus and productivity. Otherwise I can quite easily find myself becoming distracted. Thanks again for your comments – really appreciated!
Thank you SO MUCH for broaching this particular topic! It’s a huge conversation, because it can become a bigger-than-huge problem in a heartbeat, especially in my niche. (WARNING: Get ready for a l-o-n-g response to your initial question!)
As the ADD Coaching field co-founder and self-professed ADD Poster Girl, I must remain hyper-vigilant about what I refer to as “intentional attending.” Distractibility is my personal #1 through #10 ADD Challenge! I also see its grimy fingerprints all OVER clients who don’t seem to realize that distractibility is a bear for them as well – even those who complain about ending every day wondering what in the world they did with it.
Here’s the problem: Social Media is DESIGNED to distract. “Look over here!” “Click over there” “Follow these breadcrumbs – this is great stuff you REALLY need to know to make a living in today’s business world!”
And I’m sure it IS – but so is all the stuff on a gazillion other SM sites (and that’s not counting the time you need to dedicate to signing-up, throwing up some kind of (mostly required and woefully inadequate) profile, “friend”-ing those you’d like to get to know and work with (after investigating their blogs and comments and posts and discussions to know which ones those might be) — AFTER you learn the in-and-out quirks of whatever network you’re investigating. And you haven’t left a single comment yet for anyone to get to know YOU – your email’s languishing in the spam e-glut – today’s blog post needs polishing still, and – or – BUT – ad infinitum!
Can you spell OVERWHELM?
I liken it to a cocktail party with hundreds of available, great-looking dudes, charming, intelligent and right up your alley. How do you navigate the party? Because you KNOW a handful of business cards unlinked to sufficient time in meaningful conversation is not going to do a darn thing for you once you get them home. (Nobody’s lucky enough to suddenly find that tomorrow is unexpectedly freed up for follow up. Life itself has become like that vintage “I Love Lucy” episode with the chocolates and the conveyor belt!)
Yet you can’t talk to EVERYONE at that darn cocktail party – and sometimes it’s hard to push through the buzzing hoards to talk to ANYONE. How does everybody else manage?
NOW come all the “supposedly helpful” suggestions from long-time colleagues, new colleagues and their old and new colleagues and their colleagues’ colleagues – which add a whole new list of ADDITIONAL “godsend” places to check out and technologies to sign up for — that you also have to spend time to learn how navigate before you can judge their usefulness for what YOU are up to, even if you know exactly what that IS. It seems there are new “hot plates” every single day – hoots and tweets and video-media and lions, and tigers and bears – OMG!
I applaud the idea of a “social media PLAN” — but you are overlooking an important item even as you suggest the importance of having one: most of you “gurus” have been playing social media bingo long enough that you have forgotten what it was like when YOU were a stranger in a strange land. NOT TO MENTION that volitional control of attention is a specialized skill beyond the reach of most individuals — more complex for ADDers, in some specific arenas, but a big problem for almost everyone I know.
It can take half a day of research and reading simply to locate a source for a teeny bit of BASIC information for those of us who are new to the social networking pool to tell the shallow end from the deep! (I’m still trying to figure out why my FaceBook business page isn’t working the way I want it to! Whad’ya mean connect everything ELSE to automatically update there?)
Plan? How can one pick through and prioritize among concepts that you’d have to take a week off to investigate just to be able to RATE them?
How about a series of really-no-kidding NEWBIE posts? My guys are drowning and, jumping back into the fray after four plus years “off the grid” entirely, due to health and personal challenges, I can’t keep my own head far enough above the tidal wave to point the way for them. (Unless you’re up for co-developing something that is SORELY needed)
Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, SCAC, MCC – (blogging at ADDandSoMuchMore and ADDerWorld – dot com!)
Hi Madelyn, I’m so pleased you found the article helpful. I’m someone who can get quite distracted easily and can find concentrating difficult, because there are so many exciting things to learn – right at my fingertips. However, these steps have been incredibly helpful in keeping me focused and on track.
In answer to your question, one of the things I stress to all of my clients , is not to try to do EVERYTHING at once. And, not to be distracted by new social media platforms etc that are being added to on a daily basis. Select one tool; learn what you need; implement and tweak until you are happy with the results; then move onto integrating the next tool into your social media strategy. I have what I call my Fab Five: Your Blog; Facebook Biz Page; Twitter; YouTube; and LinkedIn. My entire Social Media Strategy evolves around these platforms.
I’d love to discuss an opportunity to joint venture with you. Let’s connect offline!!
Boy did I need to read this! You are right …I need to set a limit and stick to it. I am using hootesuite however, once I get online time slips away as I get caught up in the conversations!! I am motivated to do better! Thanks!
Glad you found this helpful Denny! This is something I have to remind myself of regularly too. There’s so much amazing information that we have at our fingertips, and if we don’t put some structure/guidelines into place we can easily spend hours and hours absorbed! Well, I know I can if I’m not careful 🙂
Brilliant article! Today Social Media plays a big part in our life. It is very important to develop a social media strategy and follow it. I use Hootsuite too – great free tool. Thank you for your advice and for sharing your rules and tips with us!
Thanks Anastasiya; I love Hootsuite and following my upgrade to becoming a pro-users, I can now add other social media profiles as well. Glad you found them helpful!
Great article with so many valuable tips to work more efficiently, thank you! A couple of sites I hadn’t heard of as well so I’m now going to check them out!
You’re very welcome Scott; I’m sure you’ll find the sites mentioned of value as you continue to use social media in your business.
Thank you Annemarie…This is an awesome article helping us all to be more time efficient! Thanks for sharing…Hughie
My pleasure Hughie – glad you found it helpful!
Loved the article AnneMarie. I’m having problems for a long time getting Hootsuite and FB to work. Using free version. Contacted HS and no response ever. Would love saving time.
Hi Carol, glad you like the article. Let me know if I can help you with linking HS with FB? I was able to do it with the free version, so I’m sure you should be able to do it too.
As always, excellently written! A lot of great points to consider and useful resources for those finding their bearings.
I too get distracted, and have had to continuously create new time management processes as I learn new things and try others. That is what really gets me off track….exploring the *new*!! 😀
I use Hootsuite as well and just love it. I’ve tried other similar tools, and always come back to the owl. Buffer — Have looked at it, but have not yet made the leap, as their WordPress plugin was not supporting the most current version of WordPress, when last I checked.
Really need to hop onto Audio Boo — Really liked the audio you left for us to listen to!!
Thanks for the great tips, and for featuring me above!!
Thanks Keri – you shared some great tips and resources too. Many people I speak to struggle with this, so I’m sure they will all be very grateful for the resources! shared. As for Audio Boo – I highly recommend it. It’s so quick and easy and another great way to share your message with your community!
God Bless You! Yes – we’ll connect offline — but I want to post THIS comment/concept here for benefit of all.
Your response (don’t try to do all at once) – is a type of aha! that I refer to as a duh! (too logical when YOU say it, I probably could have – and did – say it to myself, but it somehow it sounded like an excuse when it came from me and became a new/old truth out of YOUR brain).
To be CLEAR – duh!s are *good* insights, even though the silly name points out the obvious: they make one feel more than a bit dense in the moment — actually, BECAUSE they do. Every new duh! become a subtle self-reminder of how easy it is to over-complicate the complex and the importance of remembering to search for the underlying simplicity that will make things DO-able, not perfect.
In ADD-coaching, that “search” usually happens best with a coach or ADD-literate buddy – externalizing the pre-frontal cortex-intensive tasks (planning, deciding, prioritizing, sequencing, etc.), compensating for areas that function less effectively in ADD-flavored brains than in the neuro-typical (aka “vanilla”) brain styles.
SO – at the risk of sounding like a shill – it is also the #1 reason why its a good idea to work with a guru like YOU – who has the heart and skill to state the obvious without making the listener/reader feel like YOU think they’re stupid, and the knowledge to suggest something from your own experience to move the plot along (the Fab Five).
Any chance of an article explaining WHY you think those Five are Fab? It would really help unpack the “logic” elements behind an effective media plan (with apologies if there’s already one – I didn’t find it!)
mgh (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, SCAC, MCC – blogging at ADDandSoMuchMore and ADDerWorld – dot com!)
Hi Madelyn, I love the fab five and believe that all of these tools are leaders in their space. Each tool has it’s unique offerings and therefore allows me to leverage and harness these elements within my relationship building and of course social media marketing efforts. There are so many social media tools/platforms being added to the mix on a daily basis, however I made a commitment to myself that I would not let these distract me. For instance, Google+ came onto the scene some time ago, and while I have a profile there, I wouldn’t say I am as active there as I am on my other platforms. [You’ve given me an idea for another article, in which I’ll explain my personal preferences and how I am leveraging each. Keep watching this space].
With regards to a social media marketing plan, I think it’s important to understand the business, their niche/target market and what platforms their ideal clients spends most of their time on. For instance, one of my colleagues wanted to refer his niece to me to help her get a presence on LinkedIn. She has just recently started her business of making beautiful handmade greeting cards. However I explained to him that Facebook is a far better place for her to build a presence to begin with. She can set up a Business Page and then start sharing photos of her designs, because this is what is going to showcase her talents. You can’t really do that over at LinkedIn. So once she has got that under control she may decide to integrate Twitter, and slowly start to draw her Twitter community over to her FB business page. There are lots of different things she can tweet about to engage and interact with her community there and vice versa over at Facebook.
So you can see, the plan starts to take shape once you understand the business, their goals, and of course the resources available to them. I would not design a social media marketing strategy that involve multiple postings across different platforms if the business owners had only themselves to do everything. That would just not be the best approach, so this is something that needs to be considered as well. And of course to have a solid content development strategy in place, because content (i.e. information that will be posted/conversations etc) is what is going to continue to drive interest and engagement.
Anyway, I’ve almost written a mini article already in my response 🙂 Hope it gives you some ideas!
EXCELLENT response. Thanks. I’m eagerly anticipating the “maxi” article – having read what I agree is the mini-blogpost above.
Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, SCAC, MCC – (blogging at ADDandSoMuchMore and ADDerWorld – dot com!)
Annemarie this is very comprehensive post. I really think is a real ebook about how to manage social media without social media crunching you and your time. The tools presented are quite interesting and I never saw them in your perspective. Thanks I’ll keep it andy. Love your post.
Thanks Fabrizio; I agree with you, there certainly is an opportunity for a book on the different tools and tips to ensure we remain focused and productive when using social media. Thanks for stopping by!
What a great article. I was just talking today to Dorien van-Morin of More in Media about this subject. It is so very easy to get sucked in and spend so much of your time on all the social media that you lose track of time and lose sight of your goals. It is SOOO important to have a plan and to remain focused so that you can be productive.
Thanks for all the great tips!
Hi Wendy – thanks! You know, before I set myself up a plan/schedule, I was all over the place. There’s so much to distract you and if you’re not careful you can get sucked in for hours and hours. Thankfully I’m a little more focused now 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the tips!
What WONDERFUL information! Thank you so much for giving me some great tools to use!
You’re very welcome Lori! Thanks for stopping by – really appreciate it.
Annemarie, thank you. This is very informative.
Another productivity tool I use is to incorporate a timer with my core work, too. People may find they work best in 30 minute chunks, or 50 minutes followed by a 10 minute break. (Perhaps this would be a good time for me to reset that timer for 5 minutes of SM!!) This allows me to remove as many as distractions as possible to dedicate my attention on the important tasks I need to accomplish.
A real timer is more valuable, as you can then turn off your cell phone (or put it on silent mode). I find the alerts on my cell phone are very distracting.
Closing down the mail browser/client is also helpful, and again the alert feature is definitely turned off.
Multi-tasking isn’t generally productive. Being present and concentrating on one thing at a time is a worthwhile skill, although it’s definitely not always easy!
You are much appreciated.
Hi Pamela, that’s another great tip. I often use my iPhone’s timer function when I am writing. It’s amazing how much more focused you become when you know you have a certain amount of time in which to finish (or at least make progress on) a specific task. I can highly recommend this strategy too. Thanks for stopping by.
Oh, I use Hootsuite all the time! Because it’s so efficient and simple to use, I find that it actually encourages me to blog more! Good one!
Hootsuite is a fantastic time management tool for sure Robin. And yes, very simple to use. Glad to hear it encourages you to blog more – frequent blogging is so important to increase visibility and create a buzz around your brand.
It is true that at times most people get carried away. You log in with the intention of doing only one thing for a few minutes but you end up spending much more time than you expected. One should find a way to balance so that social media does not get in the line of your other important activities.
Very true Jesse; for me having a plan (which includes an overview of what needs to be done and a time limit) keeps me focused and on track. And, as I am expanding our social media marketing/online reputation services in the new year and taking on multiple new clients, me and my team will need to keep extremely focused!
Annemarie, as always you provide the BEST tips! I visit your blog regularly and read your posts because you provide such great information! You are an amazing branding and business professional. I’m glad our paths have crossed!
Thanks so much Knikkolette – I really appreciate it. I’m so glad you found the article helpful! I’m certainly glad our paths have crossed too and look forward to seeing what 2012 has in store!