Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve met with clients about their social networking (SN) strategy. A common refrain is this: “Social networking takes too much time. I don’t have extra time in the day. And I don’t want my staff wasting huge amounts of time on social networking.”
But for organizations that have made the decision to incorporate social networking into their communication, conversation or marketing strategies, how can we be sure that social networking sites aren’t just a sinkhole of time?
As someone who is fairly active on different SN platforms (I tweet and update my profile on Facebook regularly, I browse sites on StumbleUpon, and I certainly watch my share of YouTube videos), here are my top time management tips:
- I set aside time during the day to read blogs, tweets, Facebook status updates, etc. Typically, I set aside a half hour in the morning and a half hour at night.
- I may update my status on Twitter and Facebook during the day, but I don’t do a lot of reading.
- I don’t read everything. I’m really good at skimming.
- I use Tweetdeck to manage the tweets from people I follow. I set up groups for the people whose tweets I really want to see: family, friends, clients, CEOs, thought leaders, research orgs. Love Tweetdeck!
- If I find something I like, I either read it right then, or I save it to my Delicious account (social bookmarking) site for later consumption.
- Do the important stuff first. For example, I try to blog a couple of times a week. On the day I want to blog, that is my priority, not other SN sites.
- I don’t feel compelled to reply to direct tweets and blog messages in real-time. I set aside time to read, reflect and reply; I figure nobody’s going to die because I didn’t comment fast enough on their question about Facebook URLs.
- As a company, we have developed a content strategy that delineates the type, tone and frequency of our updates and tweets. Which means we’re clear on what we need to do, when to do it, and the content we will provide. Finally, we don’t tweet all day long; once a day is fine.
Will you catch me doing random surfing every once in a while? Some days, and we all have them, I just need a brain break and I want to look at pretty photos on Flickr, catch up on my favorite blogs, and scan the cool URLs and mindless tweets from people I follow. But hey, a recent Australian study says that “people who use the Internet for personal reasons at work are about 9 percent more productive that those who do not.” Imagine that.
David Allen from Business Week says that social networking is worth the time if you organization has an agenda that is supported well by social networking, you are doing research, or you need to know how social media really works. Beth Kanter has some additional tips for using your time wisely and not getting in trouble on SN sites.
How about you? How much time do you spend each day or week on social networking sites? How do you manage your time? And do you think time management is an issue for you and your staff?