Social media marketing is practically a requirement for today's work-at-home woman … but it's also a giant time-suck. Don't lie – you know you've logged onto Facebook to do a quick work update and ended up spending an hour scrolling through your news feed and commenting on your friends' pics.
There's nothing wrong with using social media for fun. However, if your goal is to maximize your work time and get more done, you have to learn to use social media efficiently.
Here are five quick tips to get started.
1. Turn Off Alerts
You're already constantly connected to work through your smartphone, making it incredibly easy to respond reactively – rather than proactively – to your workload. In other words, you're more likely to jump every time your phone beeps with a new email or social post, pulling your attention away from the business at hand.
This is an incredibly inefficient way to do work. You may have to stay connected to your email all day, but there's no reason that you need to instantly reply to every comment you receive on your Instagram feed. Turn off those phone alerts so they don't distract you. You can still respond to them in time – you just don't need to turn into Pavlov's dog, unconsciously reacting whenever your phone buzzes.
2. Time Block Social Media
Frankly, you should be time blocking throughout the whole workday – but if nothing else, at least time block your social media. The amount of time you dedicate depends on what role social marketing plays in your job. For instance, social media plays a major role in my position as founder of Girls Gone Sporty – I use social media to connect with the Girls Gone Sporty Ambassadors and to promote the content we create. But if I didn't set aside time specifically for social media, I would never get anything else done – there are too many messages constantly coming in.
Personally, I allow myself to check social media and respond personally three times a day – once in the morning, once in the early afternoon, and again in the evening. I try to keep the time spent to less than 15 minutes, although some days I have to spend more. Keep in mind, this is not the time I spend sharing content on social – this is the time I spend interacting with our followers. You may have to time block more time for scheduling and content creation, with the goal of doing as much as you can in a designated period of time, rather than stringing it out throughout the week.
3. Schedule Your Content
I know in some circles it's considered blasphemy to talk about scheduling social content, but if your goal is to combine effectiveness and efficiency, scheduling is an absolute requirement.
During the weeks I set aside time to schedule content on social media, I see a spike in engagement and traffic to my website from social outlets. Pinterest is probably the best example of this: In January I started using a service called Ahalogy to schedule my Pinterest pins, and since mid-January, my site's Pinterest page has gained more than 4,000 followers (it's at almost 6,000 followers now, up from 1,600 when I started using the service). Furthermore, Pinterest has become the largest traffic generator for our site, providing roughly 30% of all our unique visitors. Prior to January, my engagement on Pinterest was spotty at best, only accounting for 12% of our total traffic in the previous six months.
While Pinterest is the most obvious example, I see similar bumps in engagement and traffic from other outlets when I schedule using Buffer. You don't have to use Buffer or Ahalogy, but these third-party services take the guesswork out of social sharing, automating the process. And if you're worried your followers won't like it, keep in mind that you still write your own posts and infuse your personality into the things you're sharing. Plus, by time blocking your scheduling, you become more efficient, freeing up more time to pursue projects your followers are sure to love.
4. Set Priorities
There are too many social networks for you to be awesome at all of them while still being awesome at the rest of your job, too. You absolutely must prioritize your social marketing in order to stay sane and effective.
For instance, I know that because Pinterest generates traffic for our site, and because I engage with the Girls Gone Sporty Ambassadors on Facebook, I must prioritize those sites over all other social channels. When I'm short on time or am juggling several projects, I skip scheduling Twitter, Google+, and my Facebook page through Buffer, instead, taking the time to schedule Pinterest through Ahalogy. Then I set aside my three times of the day to log onto Facebook to check the ambassador groups to see if there's anything pressing that needs to be addressed. Only when I have more time do I post on Instagram, We Heart It, YouTube, or other social sites.
The key to setting social priorities isn't necessarily about numbers of followers, but about influence. Girls Gone Sporty actually has the most followers on Twitter, but the impact our Twitter account generates for our business is minimal, accounting for only 2% of the traffic to our site since January.
You must tap into your accounts and determine which social outlets are doing the most for your business – either through traffic, sales, or relationship-building with customers and followers. Based on solid metrics, prioritize your times.
5. Share Better Content
You know the phrase, “Work smarter, not harder”? It certainly applies to social media. I know I'd rather post one great post that generates traffic and engagement, rather than posting 10 posts that generate little traffic or engagement. The key here is to post better content.
First, know what your goals are whenever you post. Do you want to make a sale, or simply learn more about your customers? Do you want to drive people to your website, or provide great information to your followers, regardless of where it came from? Think carefully about your fans, your goals, and the limitations of each social network before you post. Simply sharing and re-sharing blog posts or talking incessantly about your company is unlikely to generate big results.
Use free programs such as PicMonkey or Canva to develop great images to highlight your message, or use Piktochart to put together a shareable infographic. Ask questions and share content created by other people in your field. Your message should be clear, consistent, and helpful, rather than self-serving or boring. If your goal is to “give, give, give” to your followers, that giving will eventually come back to you in the form of an engaged audience.
Unless you're employed as a social media manager, social marketing probably isn't the only thing you have to do all day. Set aside time to dedicate to your social channels, but understand that constant social banter isn't expected or required. You can achieve great results efficiently by prioritizing and scheduling your content, then blocking out time to engage with your audience.
How do you manage your social accounts? Do you have tips for being more efficient?
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Jess Weddle is a work-from-home social media marketer and writer who shares business and marketing tips.
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