Don’t Let Social Media Take Over Your Life

I recently did an interview discussing social media for freelancers, hopefully it will be available on Podcast soon so I can link to it from my blog.

In the meantime though I wanted to provide you with some tips about having a strategy when it comes to working with social media.  If you don’t have a strategy it can take over your life and even when you think you are working hard (because you have spent all evening on Twitter), you could be trying too hard and not actually getting a lot of real work done.

Make a Plan

Physically write down a schedule for your social media interaction and pin it up where you can see it.  I wrote my plan in Excel a few weeks ago, not just for social media but for everything I need to do each week.  I have organised the table into AM and PM and written down all the tasks I do each day and allocated a time for each of these, for example:

Monday – AM
– Emails (15 mins)
– Social Media (15 mins)
– Client Work (1.5 hours)
– Blog Post (1 hour)

By having this in writing it will remind you how much time you should be spending on a task so you won’t get carried away with chatting on Twitter or scrolling through nice images on Pinterest.

Use a Timer

I use my iPhone to set a timer, for my emails this morning I set it for 15 minutes and then got on with responding and reading emails.  I went slightly over but when the alarm went off it reminded me that the task was over and I needed to move onto my next job.  Sometimes I don’t need the full hour for a blog post so in the remaining time I might pop over to Facebook or Twitter and interact with my fans/followers, but when that alarm goes off I check what’s next on my to-do list.

Create Social Media Campaigns

You can do this for your own business and your clients.  By getting down in writing what you (or your client) wants to achieve through social media you can devise a plan and timetable of tasks.  One of my clients has a blog posted every 2 weeks on a Monday, this then needs to be marketed on Facebook and Twitter.  Some of this can be set-up to be automated so it doesn’t need my physical presence to be achieved.  But at other times if there are special offers to be marketed then I need to sit down and work out a plan on how I can incorporate this into my schedule, and technically this would come under ‘client work’ and not my social media 15 minutes.

Automation

Without automation of some kind you’re destined to spend your life on social media.  When you’re first starting out it’s important to get to know your customers (fans/followers), and you probably have the time to do this.  But once you get more clients and you have to dedicate more time for client work you need a way of still having a presence on social media when you might not be there in person.

I started using Tweetdeck for my scheduling but it took a lot of time on a Monday morning to schedule all the tweets I wanted to post throughout the week.  Tweetdeck is good for scheduling a hand full of tweets, but for me this just wasn’t working.

I started using SocialOomph and their queue reservoirs.  You can add lots of updates and it will recycle them over and over.  You have to remember to update these now and again, or have a very big reservoir… mine has 45 updates and I set it to post once every 90 minutes.  SocialOomph has other benefits, such as vetting followers, sending out automated direct messages, but all of these are for the paid version.  It’s something you need to consider carefully, especially when you’re starting out, you need to take into consideration spending money on automation so it frees up time for client work.  If you have no clients then it’s not beneficial obviously.  I am now using SocialOomph for clients as well, so they benefit from my account, you have to remember to include the fees into your rates or you could end up being out of pocket.

Engage

This is the most important thing you must do on social media.  It’s no use setting up automation for everything and then forgetting about social media altogether. What about responding to mentions and DM’s on Twitter? Interacting with your Facebook fans? Repinning interesting images on Pinterest?  Digging interesting articles? Commenting on useful blog posts?

You need to make sure within your social media plan you allocate time to interact with people, if you have a string of automated tweets on Twitter not only will you come across as uninteresting you’ll end up losing followers for it.  Each morning I take time to thank people for retweets and responding to messages (just as I would on email).  I’ll also have a notification set-up on my iPhone Twitter app so I can respond in real-time if I can.

It’s so important to engage and interact with your social media audience, so please if you do one thing on this list, do this one!

If you have any tips for working with social media without it taking over your life please let me know in a comment below.  I have written some similar posts recently, if you’re interested take a look at My Top 3 Social Media Apps and get Organised with this Free Resource.

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