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.
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.
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.
I love free resources and I think this is certainly one of the top project management resources I’ve found so far. Having only just signed up to Asana I’m not able to give you a complete review but I hope that by making you aware of it, it will give you the opportunity to try it out for yourself.
Asana is a task management tool for teams, so ideal for a virtual assistant like me who works with various different clients. You can invite up to 30 people to your workspace, which for a small business is plenty I would think.
I have been looking through the website and found a great overview of the product here – Task Management for Teams.
With Asana you can:
- Sync with your calendar (Google, Apple , Outlook…)
- Use it on the move with your smart phone or tablet
- Create multiple workspaces
- Assign a task to another member of your team
- See real-time changes immediately
- Integrate with your inbox
- Create project templates
- Follow tasks or projects
- Tag items across projects
- Create private projects
- See the activity feed for each task
These are just the basics, I have been using Asana for my ongoing to-do list, breaking the tasks down into clients so I can easily see what I should be working on. When a due date is coming up Asana will email you with a reminder, which is useful if you don’t have the browser open all the time.
On their website there is a useful 2 minute video which gives you a quick demonstration of the basic functionality and ideas called How to use Asana, in 2 minutes. I’ve embedded it here, or you can click the link above.
I’m always looking for resources that could save me time and organise me and this one does both, so if you’ve been using Asana or you sign-up following my recommendation, let me know what you think by leaving a comment below?
If you’re looking for more time management tips take a look at my recent posts Time Management Tips and Reading List Overwhelming You? 6 Tips That Will Help!
I thought it might be useful to do a follow-up to my recent blog post Who do you Follow on Twitter? and My Top 3 Social Media Apps which were two of the most popular posts in January, although they have been pipped at the post with 10 Virtual Assistant Resources in the last few days. Do check out these if you haven’t done so yet.
What I wanted to go through today was a more indepth post about analysing your Twitter community (that’s your followers and friends – those you follow). I have been using SocialBro for some weeks now and I think it’s a great tool to look at your Twitter statistics as well as searching for people to follow, who in turn you’d hope would follow you back.
The best way to explain how I use SocialBro each day is to do just that, tell you how I have been using it. Each morning I open up the application (Google Chrome add-on) and it synchronises all the necessary information so it’s as up to date as possible. It gives you a quick message telling you how many followers you have gained since the last time you used it and also how many people have unfollowed you.
Here is a screenshot of the main sections I’m going to discuss.
My first port of call… I check out who has unfollowed me! Most days I have a few unfollows, and 9 out of 10 times these are spammers who have followed me in the hope of a follow back. Occasionally a real person will unfollow me, I don’t know why and there isn’t really anything I can do about it, life’s too short to worry too much about it. If I am following any of these then I will take another look at their profile (as I mentioned in my previous blog post) and decide whether to unfollow back or keep them and see whether they provide any good content relevant to me.
With my new followers I use the checklist I mentioned last time in Who do you Follow on Twitter? and decide whether I should follow them back. If there are spammers I might at this point report them for spam, but usually I just ignore them, a few days later they tend to unfollow me anyway.
Not Following You Back
There are 219 people not following me back on Twitter, and this is something I look at once a week. I did a check of this today and had a bit of a clear out. Some of these are famous people, and to be honest it’s almost impossible to get a famous person following you back. If you have some famous people following you on Twitter do let me know, who are they?
So today I went through this list and identified people on it that don’t post very often and don’t post relevant content I’m interested in. I didn’t really have a strategy, I just clicked through them (all 13 pages) and made some quick decisions. I managed to get the list down by 35 or so, so less irrelevant information on my Twitter feed for now.
There is one particular thing that stumps me when it comes to people following you. There are a few Twitter users who don’t follow me back but they re-tweet my tweets, they communicate with me on Twitter and they even visit my blog. I follow them, but they don’t follow me back, why is that I wonder?
Another useful section to look at is Inactive Friends, these are people who haven’t tweeted in the last 3 months. I have got mine down to zero – I don’t need to be following people who are inactive. I have also done a specific search for people who haven’t tweeted in the last 6 weeks and unfollowed most of these too. Maybe I’m trying to be too organised?
This is really useful if you’re looking for people to follow on Twitter. You can enter keywords in here which will bring up a lot of Twitter users relevant to your search. For example, I specialise in eBook formatting so I typed in the ‘Bio’ search box ‘unpublished author’ and it came up with hundreds of Twitter users I could potentially follow. As a test I followed some, maybe 20 or so to see if any of them would follow me back and potentially get in touch about helping them publish their work. I’m still running that particular test, but I have had a couple of enquiries from Twitter, so it’s definitely something you could try.
There are so many other ways you can use SocialBro, I am sure I haven’t found them all yet. I tend to use Best Time to Tweet, Real-time Analytics and Analyse your Competitors quite a bit too.
I hope this has been useful and that you may go away and check out SocialBro and try out some of the ideas I have told you about.
If you want to see what other social media apps I like to use, take a look at my recent blog post My Top 3 Social Media Apps.
You know how it is, you’re laying in bed or pottering around the house and all these great ideas pop into your head. It happened to me last night, I’d gone to bed but couldn’t sleep. Having joined the blog challenge I’d been thinking through some ideas about what I can post over the next 31 days… So laying in bed at midnight and not being able to sleep I got up and decided to make some notes about the ideas I had been going over in my head.
Create a new post…
This morning I sat at my laptop and started a few draft posts on my blog, just with a sentence and saved them, this post was one of them! Even though you have an idea it takes time to come together sometimes, but a good way of keeping your idea evolving is to jot down a few things, a sentence, some bullet points and come back to it later, and then again another time if you’ve still not brought it together.
Some of my favourite resources about coming up with blog ideas are Michelle Schaeffer’s 50 Article/Blog Title Ideas and also What to Write About When You Don’t Know What to Write About. Another good resource is the video by Ace Inspire 40 Blog Post Ideas in 5 Minutes as well as the guest blog post on ProBlogger 5 Ways to Never Run Out of Blog Post Ideas.
5 Tips for Writing a Blog
- Always have a notebook and pen handy for jotting down rough ideas
- Bookmark posts that inspire you so you can come back to them when looking for ideas
- Start a draft post and add to it until completion
- Always remember who your audience is and try and write relevant content for them
- Don’t give up, if you get writer’s block come back to it at another time
If you’re a small business you may have to come up with ideas yourself, unlike a bigger organisation who probably employs people to writer their blog for them. In cases like this it’s a good idea to invite some guest bloggers to take some of the strain, and if you don’t know anyone there is a great website I came across last week called My Blog Guest, where you can look for relevant posts and make a request to the owner to see if you can use it on your website. If you’re also a keen blogger you can submit posts of your own for website owners to request. I will certainly be using this resource in 2012!
Alternatively, you could hire a Virtual Assistant like me to guest blog for you or even manage your blog completely. If you have the ideas but don’t have time to expand on them, let me do it for you!
Have I taken on more than I can handle? 31 blog posts in 31 days… it’s a lot!
Bearing in mind I usually post twice a week, and even then I have used some guest bloggers for a couple. I find my writing style takes time to perfect, and I’m worried that what I have to say isn’t going to be worthwhile to anyone I know.
So along came this challenge, feel free to join in by clicking on the picture above, it will take you to the challenge website where you can sign up. You’ll receive some great resources (all for free), such as a short eBook called ‘7 Ways to Get Your Blog in Motion’ by Michelle Scism and Michelle Shaeffer, both of whom I follow on Twitter.
Now my dilemma is whether to use this as my first post and schedule it for 1st January 2012, or post it right away… I think I have plenty of time to come up with a much better first post!
In the meantime, if you do happen to like my blog and want to see more, why not leave a comment and send me some of your ideas for blog posts?