How to Use Social Media for Your Business Without Wasting Your Time
Social media is designed to waste your time. Companies like Facebook and Twitter purposefully design their platforms to keep you on the app for as long as possible.
But that isn’t what you want, is it?
If you use social media for business, you need to start viewing social media solely as a tool to achieve your goals.
The following are tips for limiting the time you spend engaging with social media. Although you’ll also need to devote some additional time to content creation, this is meant to help you cut down on the little time-wasting activities like trawling through hashtags and responding to comments that make up so much of our social media usage.
Social media should NOT be viewed as an entertainment platform. It’s a tool—a pretty effective one at that (well, that is if you’re using it correctly). With that in mind, here are a few tips you can use to shift your perspective and star maximizing your time on social media:
Put Social Engagement on Your Schedule
Because engaging on social media is part of growing your business and, therefore, a vital aspect of your job, it makes sense to put it on your schedule.
Choose a time during the day that you will devote exclusively to social media engagement. Outside your scheduled time, you WILL NOT log on to your business’s account. Unless your business regularly gets customer inquiries through social media (as is sometimes the case with, for example, drop-shippers), there’s no reason for you to devote your attention to social media outside of that time.
If you’re worried about missing an important message from a contact or customer, break it up into two blocks: 15 minutes in the morning, 15 in the afternoon. Aside from that, turn your notifications off, and don’t open the app.
This will help you to see social media as not a distraction, but rather a work-related activity.
Limit Your Social Media Time
There’s a reason why social media apps are structured as endless, scrollable lists of content. It’s to create an uninterrupted experience that compels you to lose track of time as you keep telling yourself, “Just one more post.”
Putting a time limit on you social media activities will prevent you from mindlessly scrolling. You have a mission, and you have a set amount of time to do it. So, along with setting a scheduled time for your social media activities, you’ll want to give yourself a strict cut-off point.
For most businesses, 30-45 minutes (which you can split into no more than two smaller chunks throughout the day) is plenty of time to do what needs to be done. Then, once you reach that cut-off time, you exit the app, and (this part is important) you stop thinking about it until your next scheduled time slot. Just because you aren’t physically connected to social media, doesn’t mean it isn’t taking up valuable mental space, so make sure that you disengage with the app both physically and mentally outside of your scheduled time.
Split Your Time Between Reactive and Proactive Engagement
Okay, so we’ve talked about how to effectively schedule your time on social media, but what exactly should you be doing with that time?
Limiting your time on social media means that you need to be much more strategic about how you spend those precious minutes, and that’s why I suggest a general guideline of using about 20% of your time on reactive engagement and 80% of your time on proactive engagement.
Reactive engagement is just a fancy way of saying “responding to comments and direct messages,” and proactive engagement refers to the act of seeking out and engaging with other users in your niche. Basically, reactive engagement is all about keeping the followers you already have, and proactive engagement is about building your follower base.
Responding to comments and messages is important, obviously. It doesn’t pay to ignore your fans. However, that’s not going to help you spread brand awareness. You need to be devoting most of your time to interacting with the community.
You can do this by searching by hashtags in your niche, by location, or by indirect mentions of your brand and reaching out to others who may be interested in your content. Obviously, you’ll want to avoid seeming to “spammy,” so you should avoid direct self-promotion. However, you can connect what others post to your own area of expertise to pique the interest of that audience and drive them to your profile.
Remember: Social Media is Your “Frenemy”
There’s a lot to love about social media. It’s funny; it’s lively; it’s creative. But, there’s also a dark side to social media.
Social media is not your friend.
When you’re on social media, you’re behind enemy lines. From the bite-sized content to the easy discoverability of related posts—everything is designed to keep you scrolling. Social media doesn’t care that you have 101 other things to do today. It wants your undivided time and attention.
However, as business owners, entrepreneurs, and marketers, we rely on social media. We can’t just opt out and delete our profiles. Customers rely on us to be available through the channels they use on a regular basis, and that includes social media.
That’s why we have to be smart about the way we use social media. To us, it’s not an entertainment platform. It’s simply a means to an end.