Ashley Zeckman

Optimize Your Social Media Schedule: 4 Tips for Avoiding the Social Media Time Suck

optimize social media time

Making the time to execute on a social media strategy can rattle even the most experienced marketers.  Unlike traditional marketing, social media marketing can present many different challenges and distractions.  According to a study by eMarketer 73% of marketers say finding the time to create content as their biggest marketing challenge.

I recently ran a poll of @TopRank Twitter followers to get a sense of how they spend their time online.  I asked “If you had only 20 minutes a day to spend on social media what would you focus on?”  Some of the answers we received were:

  • @henryroominates – “I would try to connect with powerful Twitter users and Tweet content from my blog.”
  • @SebastianX – “I’d read my Twitter Followanyday List.”
  • @Paco_Belle – “Look at 2-3 Twitter lists, couple circles on G+, scroll Facebook timeline & look through my RSS feeds for new things.”
  • @Paramountbuzz – “Engaging others…doing it now.”
  • @GreenDolphin_ – “My RSS feed, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.”

If you are involved with implementing social media marketing, you know that 20 minutes a day just won’t cut it.  On top of implementing social media tactics, there’s also the task fo staying current. Lee’s post “11 Ways to Get Smarter & Stay Current in a World of Social Information Overload” outlined how much time can be involved using social tools to collect, filter and curate social media marketing knowledge.

Avoiding Shiny Object Pitfalls

Reuters estimates that the average worker loses 2.1 hours of productivity every day to interruptions and distractions.  To avoid wasting time begin by prioritizing your week.  While it’s true that unexpected issues can come up plan for the best and the worst.  If you have 3 hours per day on average to complete tasks related to social media strategy what will you get accomplished in those 3 hours?  If you were only to have 1.5 hours per day what would you want to get accomplished?  Proper planning will lead to improved productivity and efficiency.  Also, take some time to determine what your top distractions are and eliminate them.

Optimize for Productivity

Focus on what will have the largest impact on your productivity. Determining what time of day you are most productive, and which activities are most significant will help you to stay on track.  Are you an early riser, night owl, or somewhere in between?  Creating a daily schedule and routine can significantly improve your productivity.  You will also want to keep in mind statistical data which points to the best times of day and days of the week for engaging in social media activity.  A recent infographic by KISSmetrics on “The Science of Social Timing” provides valuable insight into the best times of day to share or engage on sites like Facebook and Twitter.  Some of the findings include:

Twitter

  • 5pm – best time to Tweet for re-tweets
  • 1-4 per hour – most effective frequency of Tweets
  • Midweek & Weekends – best days to Tweet
  • Noon & 6pm – best time to Tweet for increase Click Through Rates

Facebook

  • Saturday- best day to share on Facebook
  • Noon- most effective time to share on Facebook
  • .5 per day – best sharing frequency

Tips for an Optimized Focus

Now lets talk about some no brainer “don’ts” that the many of us “do”.  Let me know if any of these sound familiar to you:

  • Your best friend is having problems with their significant other so you keep your phone close, just in case…
  • It’s baseball season and your team is playing but you don’t have the day off, thank goodness for internet radio right…
  • You have email anxiety which forces you to check email every couple minutes because you never know what you might miss…
  • One of your colleagues is obsessed with chatting online and pings you every couple minutes with a question or joke…
  • You’re scheduling Tweets, posting on your personal facebook page, and reading Psychology Today all at the same time, because after all you are a master multi-tasker…

I too have often thought that I could do everything at once.  A balancing act acquired from years of having too much to do, and not enough time.  I considered multi-tasking an art form and a higher form of organization than my counterparts who only focused on one thing at a time.  I could not have been more wrong.  In recent years I’ve had to buckle down and force myself to devote all of my attention to one task at a time.  I’ve found that the quality of my work has improved and the level of my stress has decreased significantly.  Some tactics that have worked for me include:

  • Closing my email when I’m working on social media tasks
  • Close all Internet windows and tabs except for the one I need to work on
  • Disabling chat or closing chat windows to avoid distraction
  • Pick 15 minutes a day to indulge in activities such as checking personal social media profiles, responding to texts, or chatting with friends.
  • Spend 30 minutes to an hour each morning reviewing emails and responding, do the same thing before leaving at the end of the day.
  • It is significantly easier to stick to your schedule if you are working ONLY on the tasks you have scheduled in the time allotted.

Tools for Optimizing Your Time

Depending on your available time and social media content strategy, there are many tools that can help you accomplish more with less time.  Below are three different types of tools that social media marketers can use to get the most out of their time:

Curation Tools – good for quickly gathering and automatically sharing content

Social Aggregators & Management Tools –  follow and engage with multiple platforms

Social Bookmarking – effective means of organizing and storing social bookmarks

Next Steps

I’m sure you’ll agree that focus and time management are something that most of us can relate to.  Based on what was covered in this post, consider the following questions and determine what you can do to better focus on the tasks at hand:

  • What are your top 3 social media goals and do you have a plan for reaching them?
  • How much time can you dedicate each day to using tactics to reach these goals?
  • What steps can you take to improve your focus while completing social media activities?
  • Which type of tool: curation, aggregator, or social bookmarking can you use to help save time?

If  you are looking for additional tips on Optimizing your SEO, social media, and content strategies be sure to take a look at the new book: “Optimize: How to Attract & Engage More Customers By Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing.”

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Ashley Zeckman About Ashley Zeckman

Ashley Zeckman is the Director of Agency Marketing for TopRank Marketing. In addition to finding innovative ways to showcase the exceptional work of her team, she is also responsible for creating digital marketing programs that drive customer acquisition and growth for the agency. Her background includes expertise in everything from content marketing strategy to branding, account management and social media.

Outside of her role at TopRank Online Marketing, Ashley prides herself on being a great home chef, painter, prankster and dog mom.

Comments

  1. My favorite tool is Bufferapp. It allows me to scan through the blogs I read in the early morning and have them tweeted throughout the day rather than all at once. Since I usually am using the hours around 4:30-5:30 in the morning for that part of my day, it is unlikely that many people near my time zone would be looking at their feeds anyway at that hour. I can respond to people’s messages and do all the personal  stuff at that time, but still maintain a web presence throughout the day.

    • Burl, thank you for sharing. It looks like quite a few of our readers are using Bufferapp. 🙂

  2. Toshiba Burton says:

    I have been guilty of doing unnecessary things while working such as checking emails every few min’s because I felt like I was going to miss something just as you said although I have managed to accomplish gossiping about unnecessary things

  3. I love Bufferapp too, and I’ve also been using PostPlanner for Facebook posts (terrific app). The KISSMetrics data are interesting, but I tend to take those kinds of stats with a grain of salt… I mean, how exactly is one supposed to post to Facebook .5 times a day?

    • Thank you for your input Shonali. I will definitely take a look at PostPlanner. That is not a service that I have used before. I agree that these statistics should not be the end all be all but they do provide guidance when formulating a plan. Happy reading!

  4. I find myself using Hootsuite and Evernote a lot more to get myself organized. In evernote, I save stuff and tag it appropriately – this might be content that I want to schedule to send out later or for our my “weekly News/Links” write-up. I find that it’s been helping me a lot in terms of getting organized. 

    As for where I find content? In addition to my feedreader, lately I’ve been finding a lot of great content through services like Zite and Flipboard. 

  5. Setting your priorities first, cleary helps me from being distracted. Otherwise I would be a mess and be all over the social media.

  6. I smiled when I saw this post in my Twitter feed this morning 🙂 Thanks for sharing some worthwhile time management tips. It is so very easy to get distracted in the sea of platforms, posts and the next “newest app”, if one isn’t careful. Personally, I work to a daily timeframe for various social media activies and use both Hootsuite and Buffer to help schedule posts. I also plan out the following day, the evening before, as this helps me to maintain my direction and priorities. I am a fan of using a diary and ticking off set tasks which helps me achieve my daily goals. I only check my email twice a day and my Chat function is always disabled, because, otherwise, I would never get anything done… I love to chat. 🙂

  7. Thanks for this, Ashley! I’m trying… My biggest challenge is putting different activities into buckets during specified times of the day. The problem with that is that business doesn’t necessarily happen in those buckets at those times. It’s frustrating.

    Or maybe it’s an excuse. But this is a constant struggle for me, and your post helps!

  8. Nice Article. I agree that these statistics should not be the end all be all but they
    do provide guidance when formulating a plan. Happy reading!

  9. What a great read! I appreciate that you taking the time to write this article , it has valuable information.

  10. Susan Hand says:

    Great article, Ashley. It’s easy to get sucked in to the black hole. There are times I actually resort to a kitchen timer on the desk… especially when I’m doing research. It’s too easy to start following a thread and find nothing accomplished at the end.

    Thanks for the list of tools too. I’ll check them out.

    Susan

  11. apols, Google took wrong user name

  12. Awesome article! Thanks so much for sharing. I think one of the most challenging aspects of social media is that it is 24/7. However, taking the time to clearly outline your goals and problem-solving different methods to achieve those goals is where brands and companies will see the most success. 

  13. If as a business, you think that you only have 20 minutes available a day to listen to, learn from and engage with your customers using the most efficient social media tools at your disposal, then maybe it’s time to review your overall business activities and set priorities reflecting the new business reality.

  14. Great ideas Ashley – consider these 10 or 11 ideas as helpful tips too (
    http://blog.bizcoachsteven.com/category/time/).  I believe it is very important to prioritize, as Brian Tracy says, and eat the big frog’s first.  Plan every day, set new goals and don’t ever multi-task, because you reduce your effectiveness.  I prefer to review my goals each night and plan for the next day.  Priority stuff first and then the rest (never really complete the list).  This was very interesting because I am adding my social media campaign now.  started using twitter again, building FB and IN page, etc.  So much to do and so little time.

    Any great ideas about what works well to automate but still creates quality opportunities and relationships.  Quality is more valuable than quantity.

    thanks 

  15. Some good points here. One that I am guilty of is being a master multitasker. I often have 8 windows open at a time trying to manage online reps, read articles and updating social media. I too have learn to keep to a schedule and focus all of my efforts on one task at a time. A company I use and work for, chatmeter, is a great tool to save time on monitoring social media and other review sites. To manage my clients online reputations. 

  16. Anonymous says:

    Be sure to listen to NPR’s story on “Think You’re Multitasking? Think Again”.
    * http://www.npr.org/tablet/#story/?storyId=95256794

    Key take away:

    Humans, they say, don’t do lots of things simultaneously. Instead, we switch our attention from task to task extremely quickly. “People can’t multitask very well, and when people say they can, they’re deluding themselves,” said neuroscientist Earl Miller. And, he said, “The brain is very good at deluding itself.”

    So let’s keep on being deluded;)

  17. Excellent tips! We’ll use a few of these, for sure.

  18. Anonymous says:

    One of the most useful things to do is just to shut down the email. That keeps me from compulsively checking my inbox every 5 secs. 

  19. Hi Ashley,  

    This is great.  I believe when we know how to manage our time, we gain control.  An effective time management would help us know what to work on and when.  Also when we know our priorities (things that are important), it would be easy for us to start.  Thanks for all the knowledge.

    Best, 

    Judy

  20. mobile application testing says:

    In Social Media Optimization Time Plays Vital Role, You have To channelize yourself in Limited Period of Time! So as You are Good in Time Management as you have chances to Optimized Social Media perfectly according to your Niche!!

  21. he

    • Anonymous says:

      Great point Sonja. I agree that spending the time to execute correctly on a couple options is worth more than trying to do everything all at once without the proper bandwidth.

  22. Marnee Masales says:

    Thanks for the input. Time is a issue for so many of us who have a full time job.

  23. This post is amazing and I hope to be able to improve the quality of my work by taking this knowledge into consideration! The part where you explain the diference between multitasking and focusing on one thing at the time is AWESOME! 🙂 Hootsuite, Lander, Doppler and Google Calendar are some of the tools that help me with my work! With Hootsuite I can organize my Social Media, Lander helps me create my Landing Pages without help from developers or designers, Doppler helps me program my email marketing campaigns and google calendar…well.. you all know  what it does!haha

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you for sharing Sol. I am also a big fan of Hootsuite for it’s organization, price point, and reporting capabilities.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Good observation Dee. The point I was trying to drive home was that if you only had 20 minutes a day how would you prioritize your social media activity. Only 20 minutes a day is not enough time to execute a truly engaging social media strategy.

  25. The key is self-discipline. Just stay off things that are going to waste your time and get back to work. Set a specific time when you can have social media fun, after your work is over. 

  26. This is a great post! I just recently found that multi-tasking is not productive. I need to learn to close emails and non-essential tabs also.

  27. Very nice list of tools for time optimization, but what about issue related to “How some of this tools are accepted from the Social Media Platforms (facebook, twitter…)”?

  28. Jill Mant~a SaucyCook says:

    Thanks Ashley; great post. 

  29. Voilet Francis says:

    Thanks for that great article.   

    Productivity is very important  in our daily lives and this can only take place if we improve our efficiency.   We must have a schedule each day before we begin and stick to as closely as possible.   This of course will reduce the distractions that we encounter during the day as we must learn to concentrate on doing one thing accurately and wherever possible get the tools that will assist us in achieving a quicker and more efficient way of doing several things.

    One such distraction is social media which has proven to be very useful to connect with new individuals that may help to improve your business but has to be managed carefully in order to avoid numerous distractions.

    Talk soon.

    Voilet

  30. nice post, to save time on twitter cheek this advance search feature for twitter   http://itweetlive.com

  31. Great post. I hope you don’t mind if I plug our new product which isn’t on the list. itweetlive.com is a very sophisticated search tool that also let’s users manage personalized Twitter responses. If you’re, say, promoting a blog, a product or service, itweetlive does most of the work for you (once you’ve set up searches). It’s a real time-saver and it gets tweets into the feeds of people interested in the same issues or products (rather than spamming the tweeterverse). If you, or anyone else, has any questions, Tweet me!
    Morey
    https://twitter.com/#!/itweetlive

  32. Good info! Any thoughts on PlanYourPost.com for scheduling post for optimum view/engage times for FB and Twitter?

  33.  Great article! Integrating your web site with the Facebook Open Graph
    protocol is a must. Social media optimization effects how the
    user perceives the social objects (links, posts, articles).As pointed
    out, an integral part of the SMO strategy should be the meta tag
    optimization. 

  34. Thanks for putting all this information in one post – great productivity tools!
    Thanks Ashley.
    And I agree with Tony Taylor’s comment – multitasking is over-rated! I find myself be more productive if I focus on one thing at a time.