How to Make the Most of Your Time on Social Media

Social MediaSocial media can be a time suck.

You set out to share some great content with your community, and before you know it three hours have gone by!

What the heck happened to the time?

You can easily spend hours on social sites, whether you’re engaging with your community, keeping up with all of the changes and new platforms, or discovering what algorithm Google has updated, it can be exhausting.

According to a new infographic from Dashburst, people spend an average of 170 minutes per month on Twitter alone! Another study released this summer from Experian found Americans spend, on average, 16 minutes of every hour on social networking sites.

I’ve been managing communities for a few years now, sometimes multiple communities, so I thought I’d share some of my best practices for being more efficient with the time you spend on social media.

Determine how much time you can spend on your social media efforts per day: This will help you balance your time, effort, and results.

Create a schedule and stick to it: Allow yourself time throughout the day to check on your social networks. For example, spend 15 minutes when you get into the office, 15 minutes around lunch, and 15 minutes before you leave for the day. The reason to check your networks multiple times a day is because social is “social” so you want to be able to respond to comments and questions throughout the day. It lets people know you’re paying attention.

To go along with your schedule, set a time limit. I’ll be honest with you “ this is tough! It’s easy to get distracted and drift, so stick to your schedule and shut down your social media platforms once your time is up.

Don’t take on more than you can chew: From Facebook to Twitter to Instagram – and with more sites being created all of the time – it’s hard to know where to focus. It’s also tempting to sign up for them all, because you can handle it right? That may be true, but it’s not necessary to be everywhere. Take the time to figure out which networks mean the most to your audience. Where are your prospects and current customers having most of their conversations? Once you find out, start there.

Don’t feel bad if you aren’t on every social network: The worst thing you can do is sign up for a social network, and then drop the ball. It’s better to use one social network really, really well, then be just okay at three.

Create your updates in advance: I know, the dreaded automation. To me automation is fine as long as you are available to respond to your community throughout the day. Since I do all of my reading in the morning, I schedule posts for efficiency, and so as not to bombard my followers with non-stop updates. But I’m also online all the time to respond to people and have conversations.

Use tools: There are a TON of tools to help you manage your time more efficiently on social media?áand I mean a ton. My personal favorites are management dashboards such as TweetDeck and Hootsuite. They bring all of your social networks into one place. You can post content as well as track mentions, people, and keywords.

These days, we seem to be connected with social media whether at home, at work, or somewhere in between. Lisa Buyer, contributor to Search Engine Watch, says it best (and shares some great tips on time management too): “There is a saying that goes something like this: ?ªAre you working in your business or on your business?’ Translate that to social media, are you working in social media or on social media?” Make sure your time is spent on social media, instead of in it.

What did I miss? What other tips would you add to manage time effectively on social media?