This is the first in a 4-part series on practical tips for effective social media marketing.
- In this episode, we’ll begin creating a master plan for managing the time we spend on social media.
- In part 2, we’ll discuss how to create and manage our content.
- In part 3, we’ll talk about tools for scheduling our content.
- In part 4, we’ll discuss engaging with our audience, and how to monitor and adjust our master plan.
During a workshop I taught called, “How to be more productive on social media,” I offered time management tips and helped my students choose the social media channels that would bring them to best return on their time investment.
At the end of the workshop, one of my students raised their hand and said:
“But I just don’t have time to do social media. My daily schedule is already packed.”
This person had been hoping to discover a magical solution to their overloaded day-planner.
Unfortunately, there is no magical solution. “Doing” social media requires old-fashioned commitment and hard work.
If you’re wondering how to find time to do Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube, the answer is simple… but not easy to accomplish:
Give up something else.
Whether that means abandoning watching TV or newspaper reading or spending less time on a hobby, you’ll need to sacrifice another activity in order to add social media marketing to your schedule.
If you’re not prepared to make that sacrifice, don’t attempt to do social media.
Many of us have good intentions to “do” social media marketing. When push comes to shove, we aren’t willing to commit to actually doing it.
We get caught in an endless guilt cycle:
I want to do it. I should be doing it. But I’m not willing to spend the time to do it. I feel bad for not doing it, because I really do want to do it…
I’d rather that you step away from social media altogether than doing it sporadically and getting caught in the cycle of guilt and shame. You don’t need that. Your followers don’t need that.
During the next four episodes, I’m going to show you practical ways to extricate yourself from the guilt cycle and begin forming good social media habits that will serve you well over the long-term as you grow your writing-related business.
Do NOT sacrifice daily exercise.
Exercise – even if it’s 5 or 10 minutes of mild stretches or hiking up and down the stairs in your home – will help your mind stay alert and will decrease the stress levels you may be feeling around doing social media.
If you’re not in the habit of exercising, I recommend starting with 5 minutes a day. Make your choice of exercise so simple that you can’t not do it!
It’ll be hard and possibly painful at first. You’ll be tempted to give up. But stick with it.
The 21/90 rule
That’s where you commit to a personal or professional goal for 21 straight days.
It takes about 3 weeks to form a new habit.
Then, for the next 90 days after that first 21 days, keep at it, gradually adding a minute or two to your exercise routine.
I did this with swimming after I had a major episode with my back where I was flat on my back for 3 weeks. I limped to our local pool and ever-so-slowly got into the water. The first few weeks, I could manage about 10 painful minutes per day with a kickboard, moving at a snail’s pace.
But the activity helped my healing process, and I gradually built up my strength, the strokes I was able to do, and my time in the water. I am currently able to swim just over a mile in 1 hour.
I use this same “exercise” technique when it comes to social media marketing.
I recommended giving up something else that you are currently spending an inordinate amount of time doing. Ironically, that thing you’re wasting time on may be social media.
In the U.S., the average social media user spends 2 hours and 3 minutes on social media each day!
I’m guessing that the bulk of that time is spent mindlessly scrolling through the feed.
Our goal, as business owners, is to eliminate the mindless scrolling and replace it with deliberate, intentional, efficient social media use.
To do that, you first must know exactly how you’re currently spending your time.
Massive Action Step #1: Track Your Time
There are 168 hours in a week.
For a full week, keep a log of what you do every hour of the day. After you’ve recorded 168 hours, break your activities into categories.
How much time did you spend doing the following? (In the episode, I give examples for most of these.)
- Interacting with your family
- Personal care
- Housework or household administration
- Watching TV
- Checking your social media accounts
- Weekly commitments
- Church-related activities
- Organizations & associations
- Gaming – video games, board games, sports practices and games
Next, imagine that you’re an attorney, billing your time to different projects.
Do these numbers reflect the number of hours I’d like to “bill” to these projects?
Thinking in terms of the time you spend doing stuff in each category will help you discover areas in which your time expenditure is out of balance.
Massive Action Step #2: Practice Managing Your Time
Do some hard thinking about how you want to prioritize social networking time.
- Do you want to bookend your day, checking and updating your social networks for 10 minutes at the beginning of your day and another 10 minutes at the end?
- Do you want to devote a specific chunk of your day to social networking — say, from 10-10:30 a.m.?
- Do you want to spend 5 minutes, four times per day checking updates and interacting with your followers?
Choose one method and test it for three weeks.
You’ll feel tempted to cheat, so set a timer.
If you plan to spend a 15-minute chunk of time social networking, set a timer for 15 minutes. If you can find an alarm or countdown timer that dings, bleeps, honks, or makes an unusual or obnoxious noise, use that. When it dings, you’re done. Period. No excuses.
Recap of This Week’s Massive Action Steps
Starting today, track your time for the next 7 days. Pay extra attention to how you are using your social media time.
I did this exercise myself a few weeks ago and discovered, to my horror, that I was spending as much as an hour a day mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook and Instagram feeds.
In Episode #37, “How to Destroy Your Professional Credibility in One Easy Step,” I explain the drastic action I took on my personal Facebook account, de-friending nearly half of my Facebook friends – everyone I hadn’t interacted with recently as well as everyone who was posting thoughtless political posts.
That action alone tidied up my news feed so that I now see only a handful of posts per day from friends whose content I’m interested in seeing. As a result, I’ve decreased my time on Facebook from an hour or more per day to 5 minutes per day… 10 minutes tops.
After you’ve tracked your time for a week, organize your activities in categories. That will give you a more accurate view of the areas where you might be wasting time so you can decrease time spent in those areas and increase the amount of time you spend in your top priority areas.
Set a goal for how much time each day you will spend on social media, and decide how you will prioritize that time.
Rewards are critical to the success of your time-management plan
After you have completed this week’s action steps, reward yourself by doing something that brings you joy. In fact, you should spend a chunk of time each day doing this. Your reward should be something you look forward to doing each day – even if it’s for 5 or 10 minutes – that gives you a mental health break and leaves you feeling energized.
Be sure to join The Professional Writer Podcast Community and update us on the action steps you’re taking this week. We’re here to hold each other accountable for achieving our business-related goals, as well as to support and encourage each other.
Next week, in Part 2 of this series, I’m going to introduce you to 6 types of snackable, shareable content you can create for your social media channels.
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