Sometimes it can feel as though social media is a rabbit hole. You peek your head in and end up falling right down it, getting lost for hours. When you have to use social media for professional or branding purposes – as so many of us do these days – that can be an especially problematic fact. How are you supposed to use the tool and remain on task?
However, you may feel otherwise—that social media and productivity are, in fact, compatible. They can co-exist, as long as you do everything possible to allow efficiency to thrive. That means stacking the deck in your favor, and not letting your desire to waste time have even an inch of ground.
Here are some simple tips to keep your time on social media productive:
Create a Social Posting Calendar
You likely know all about editorial calendars and how they can help organize a publication schedule. But did you know you could create one for posting on social media? One simple tool can completely change the way you interact on social networks and maximize your time and results.
At the beginning of every week, create a posting schedule that allows multiple posts to go out per day without you monitoring them. A tool like Buffer can really help with this. Fill up your queue and then schedule a time every day for you to get directly onto the platforms and interact with the community. Don’t go over this time limit; think ten to fifteen-minute blocks daily.
Further reading: How to Productively Promote a Blog Post on Social Media
Even further reading: this comprehensive guide on promoting your content that outlines major social media networks and their key differences.
Aim for Engagement, Not Feed-Flooding
Some social media profiles post continuously (even several times an hour) throughout the day. If you own an account dedicated to something like breaking news, it makes sense. But if you are branding yourself, a company or a product, this is a bad idea. You aren’t engaging with anyone; you are just flooding their news feed with constant noise.
Proof of that comes from those profiles on Twitter that post constant links. Yes, they have plenty of followers. But how many of those followers are retweeting, or commenting, or even liking? Next to none, and that is because the profile becomes white noise whose updates they ignore.
Try to spark interaction. It is about quality, not quantity.
Start Using More Visuals
Visuals are far more effective on all social platforms than text. Humans have evolved to respond to visual stimuli above all else, so you should work to catch their eye. Photos are one way, though even better are infographics, GIFs or comics—items that require your followers to settle down and take in information. Otherwise, they may just skim it partially, focusing more than they might otherwise have, but not enough to leave an impact.
Greater results on fewer posts means less work. So resolve to use visuals as often as possible. I would go so far as to suggest using visual posts at least once a day, even if it is as simple as using a GIF to illustrate a point.
Sitegeek is doing a fabulous job turning their analysis into infographics and marketing them through social media.
Know How Often to Post, and When
You don’t want to waste a lot of time posting to social media during blocks of the day where you are less likely to be seen. But time zones alone aren’t enough to determine the activity of your audience. After all, if you have a lot of people who are posting at midnight it might seem like that is an active time, but they might have merely scheduled posts for that hour. You want high times for engagement.
There are tools on social dashboards where you can do this (Hootsuite, for example). But this is also where social media scheduling comes in handy. You can look back over your past activity and see who engaged on what posts, and when those were originally posted. A couple months of data will quickly show a pattern to work from across each social network.
Understand the Different Networks & How to Optimize Them
Each social network is unique, and the audience that uses them will have different expectations and needs. For instance, you won’t post more than one or two times a day on Facebook if you want to gain a lot of attention. But on Twitter frequent posting is mandatory. On Instagram, you don’t want to flood your follower’s feeds, but on Pinterest you do.
Understand the etiquette of each social network and how it applies to your needs. Find the platform that can best be utilized in your favor, and take advantage of its unique qualities.
Limit Your Time on Social Platforms, Even Professionally
Finally, the biggest tip of all is to limit your time spent on social media. It has been mentioned before, but you should have a block of time carved out where you are allowed to be surfing and engaging, even professionally. Remain strict on this point, and you will save many hours.
Here are my two favorite tools to keep social media productive and clutter free:
- Facebook Filter: Filter all time-wasting words to never see updates about politics, celebrities, etc and focus on what matters
- StayFocused: Set how much time you can allow yourself to stay on social media sites. This one is especially great for Facebook, which is highly addictive.