You can balance your social media life between “I don’t have time for it” and “I can’t stay away from it!”
Social media participation is no longer a topic of debate. Businesses and consultants who have an online presence and a customer base MUST be involved in the conversation. People are talking. Now, one of the biggest challenges is:
"How do I find time for it?"
Companies who are fully engaged in social media find they are pressed for time sharing on Twitter, blogging, responding to comments, and keeping up with Facebook fans. The result of social media engagement is:
- Multiple connection and friend requests
- Strengthened relationships
- Elevated interest in the company’s products or services
- More concept proposals and pitches
- More incoming emails, newsletters and junk mail
- Instant messaging alerts
- Dreaded auto DMs from Twitter
- Increasing level of accountability
- Increasing influx of SPAM
- An escalated amount of INPUT!
Enter … Social Media Shock!
Futurologist Alvin Toffler, in his book "Future Shock," defined the concept and effects as "too much change in too short a period of time." He made a detailed study of the acceleration of change and the effects on humans. Toffler suggested the velocity of change and the choices made based on the increasing amount of incoming information would result in severe physical and emotional trauma. That was 1970!
Today, the input feels like it’s 24/7. Dolly Parton would need to write new lyrics to "9 to 5" if referring to a career in today’s world! Social media presents MORE layers of information to process. The constant barrage of bits of information can leave one feeling shell shocked like military personnel in war.
Social Media Shock can leave one feeling out-of-control, with an overwhelming sense of:
"How do I keep up with it all?"
Are you "always on," "always available," with "instant access?" What do you do when answering an @ reply on Twitter becomes more important than answering the phone or even the voice of your spouse or children? You may fall into the camp of …
"I can’t stay away from it!"
Social Media Addiction
This post is not a 12 Step Program to help with social media addiction. I’m assuming many reading this, however, may relate to my Story of a Social Media Addict. Surely Toffler could not have imagined an Internet Addiction Recovery Program would open to treat addiction to texting, gaming, and the Internet. Psychological trauma is real. Social Media can lead to changes in behavior.
- Some people have admitted that social media feeds their egos.
- Others have said that receiving a DM or text message actually excites them, like a drug.
- For some, acquiring more "friends" is an obsessive compulsion.
- Most of us are wired with a "need to know." The quest for the latest information and "what’s happening" can lead to one being logged into social networks from morning till night.
The addiction may result from the "high" of having one’s interpersonal and relational needs met. Dana Larson wrote about the "Hierarchy of Social Media Needs" on Bruce Clay last year where she covered the psychology of social media marketing. It’s a necessary aspect of marketing that must be balanced each day.
You can break the chains of social media addiction! You can be productive and social! How?
- Set boundaries
- Set aside time for processing.
- Schedule social time.
This is not a post in project management or personal productivity or even a list of tools to ping multiple social networks so it looks like you are online. Below are some tips to start:
Quit Working in the Emergency Room!
Do you often feel like you are working in an Emergency Room? It feels as if emails, friend requests, IMs, DMs, and phone calls come at you with a sense of urgency. Unless you are employed in a hospital, quit working there!
Close the doors!
Work on tasks and projects the way a doctor focuses on patients. Doctors do not answer emails or take out their iPhone while performing surgery.
Close the doors that open you to distraction. Turn off the constant flow. When you are working on a project, turn off :
- Popup windows
- Instant Messaging
- Your Twitter client
- Your phone!
Schedule Blocks of Time.
Schedule blocks of time for projects as appointments on your calendar. When information comes in or distractions knock at the door, remember you’re in a "project appointment." Process it when the appointment is over. If you have turned off your popups, you won’t even know it’s there!
On average, it takes at least 15 minutes every time you check and answer email. A water cooler break on Twitter or Facebook may be another 15 minutes.
How much is 15 minutes worth to you?
Can you afford to check your email and social networks three times every hour? If your billing rate is $1,000/hour like some of the top SEOs, then maybe. However, if you watch the habits of these same SEOs, you won’t see them socializing 45 minutes out of every hour.
Water-cooler breaks on Twitter and/or Facebook are important and a stress relief to many. Just make sure you control the social networks rather than allowing them to control you! Schedule social time throughout the day.
Batch process your work. Say goodbye to A.D.D.!
Your brain is not a multi-processor. Your brain processes logical information linearly, one-by-one.
- Do you have multiple browser sessions open?
- Are you able to read two blog posts, share and comment on both at the exact same time?
Unless you have mastered parallel processing, then you cannot do more than one thing at once efficiently and effectively.
Didn’t Einstein say the definition of insanity is the ability to hold two opposing thoughts in the mind at one time? Could processing email, IM, Twitter, social media lead to a feeling of insanity?
Batch process your workday into chunks of time so you can focus on one item at a time.
Music, however, can be processed simultaneously. Music is processed as spatial-temporal orientation, the emotional side of the brain rather than the logical. So, go ahead …
- Put on those headphones!
Let go of the Emotional Control of Your Inbox!
Do a search on Twitter for "inbox." Note how many people post comments related to their email inbox. Getting our "inbox to zero" is a common quest.
You can let go of the emotional control of your inbox. After all, who is in control? You decide!
- Schedule uninterrupted time to process email.
(Ahh… Does that mean you need to set an email processing appointment on your calendar?)
- Set rules to put "like" emails into a folder.
I have rules to place incoming emails into folders and bypass my inbox, e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook. I read those friends requests or messages when I’m in that "mode."
- Check your email periodically throughout the day. If it’s too much of a temptation, close it!
A Microsoft at Work article suggests using the "Four D’s for Decision Making" when processing email:
- Delete it
- Do it
- Delegate it
- Defer it
You do not have to instantly respond to every request within 10 minutes or even the next hour! Taking control of your email inbox is one big step toward getting control of an active social media life.
Okay, are your ready to resign from the ER yet?
Get Stuff off your Mind and into a System
Capture and store information. Think,
Declutter your Mind.
Put your thoughts somewhere. You don’t want those creative blog post ideas lingering in the back of your mind while you should be focusing on another project.
I recently started using Evernote to capture ideas and inspiration. Evernote works across platforms – Windows, Mach, Web, iPhone. You can capture and organize the following into multiple notebooks, like a filing system:
- Text notes and memos
- Web clippings
- Audio notes
- Photo notes and comments
Has anyone used Jott? (I haven’t tried it but am salivating.)
Track all your Tasks.
I track tasks using a combination of Outlook Task Manager, an old-fashioned tablet of paper and the Franklin Planner system. Your system may be Outlook, Getting Things Done, Franklin/Covey, The Action Method, Remember The Milk, voice memos, or writing on the palm of your hand.
Whatever you do, you must get your ideas, tasks and notes out of your mind and documented into a system.
Social media engagement requires planning and strategy! Planning is easy yet often the hardest thing to do. You have to set time aside to plan.
"If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." -Author unknown
You need to understand what social media is and how it fits into your organization’s overall marketing, customer service and linkbuilding efforts. It’s more than posting links to your blog on Twitter and Facebook. Your efforts will be fruitless if they are not strategic.
The 10% Rule
Many social media strategists suggest that sharing your own "stuff" should be no more than 10% of your participation. Unless you are a news organization or aggregator who is broadcasting, remember the 10% rule for sharing your personal posts.
I recently attended a MarketingExperiments’ "Live Landing Page Optimization Certification" course. I grabbed onto this key planning principle:
Successful marketers spend at least 10% of their time in reflective thinking.
Use the 10% Rule to plan your social media participation. If social media is 10 hours/week of your job description, then at least 1 hour each week should be spent planning and reflectively thinking about your social media activities.
David Wallace shared his Productivity Tips for Busy Search Marketers after speaking at SMX West 2009. The key takeaway for being busy and productive is that you need a routine and a plan. His approach is a great example of batch processing. (I especially like his front loading of tasks into the first three weeks of the month!)
Improve your productivity by taking the Henry Ford assembly-line approach – batch process your work and your social media life!
Shut down distractions when you’re not "online," and watch your productivity soar!
- What if you loose track of time in while in the social networks?
- Want a little help with your attachment to email or Facebook addiction?
- Do you find yourself checking them too often instead of doing what you’re supposed to do?
Try Keep Me Out, an online application that can help you overcome your addiction of visiting certain websites (Gmail, Facebook, Digg, MySpace, etc.) too frequently. It sends you warning alerts!
In Summary …
Develop New Habits!
It takes 7 days to make a new habit and 21 days to break an old one. Begin habitual processing, develop a routine, schedule your time. Start today!
Getting control of your social media life is not about project management or getting a virtual assistant to help with your mail. Shut the doors to distractions. Open them when your mind is free to process. Capture needed information, and track all your tasks. Prioritize and organize your workday and personal life first!
Let us know how you capture and manage a busy social media life. How do you get the most output with the least amount of effort?
Dana Lookadoo is a Search Marketing Optimizer with a focus on Word-of-Mouth SEO, where search engine optimization and social media intersect. Dana is launching a new brand, Yo! Yo! SEO, to provide Search Marketing Consultation and Education. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.