Social Media Time Management

(how to regain my sanity)

I have a problem. I love marketing and I love social media, and I am very excited about the rapid change and innovation that is occurring as marketers join consumers in conversation about their products, services, brands and companies.

Every day, through my multiple online profiles, I am connecting with new people – some very bright minds – and I am learning new things.

However, as the number of people I am connected with increases, and as I discover new tools to try, widgets to download, and articles to read, I find myself to be increasingly starved for time. Time to invest back into the social media communities I participate in, hopefully providing value to others, and time spent in the offline world (is there such a thing anymore?). Time also, to focus on writing for this blog – although admittedly I was quite distracted by the Winter Olympics in February.

Here are some tactics I intend to try, to better manage my time spent on social media.

1. Focus on quality, not quantity of connections

Dunbar’s number is a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of social relationships one can maintain.  There is no precise value, but many people approximate it to be 150. I imagine most people in social media are well beyond that, and I am quite certain that I am.

I have a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and I am fortunate to have met many of the people I have connected with. However, I don’t feel I have devoted enough time towards truly nurturing and growing my relationships, and I believe that many have the potential to flourish – online and offline. Moving forward, I intend to focus more on building the relationships that I already have. How? By interacting, joining conversations, and helping others when possible. For example, on Twitter I now have a separate list for friends and I will make every effort to focus on it.

2. Become selective with social media communities and tools

Being active in social media and staying on top of the game doesn’t mean that one needs to use all available tools, or participate in an inordinate number of communities. I used to run a social group using ning, however I found that it was too much for me to handle so I abandoned it – the value generated didn’t warrant the effort required. I also had an account on Delicious to share articles that I enjoyed reading, but again I didn’t find it worthwhile to maintain. Instead, I now send out a couple of tweets a day with links to articles I believe others might find to be of interest. Where possible, I also aggregate my status updates, using Twitter to feed into Facebook, LinkedIn and other sites.

4. Spend more time, less often

Truly becoming involved with social media, and understanding the changes and impact on marketing, requires both time and effort. It’s cliché, but one gets out what one puts in. That said, personally I have found that I am signing into social media platforms too frequently, in intervals that are too short – checking Twitter to review the feed, or commenting on a friend’s updated status on Facebook. It’s very tempting to stay connected and find out the latest news. However, I have found my habits to be disruptive to other tasks I’m working on.

As such, I intend to sign in a little less often, but spend more time online when I do sign in.  I am going to take the time to read blog posts, craft replies and hopefully write my own. With regards to Twitter, I have set up lists that make it easier for me to catch up on the latest news. I will also be make more use of timed tweets, to help build my own personal online presence.

These are just a few of my planned social media time management tactics. Do you use any that you have found to be successful?  Please feel free to share!