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How To: NOT Waste Time on Social Media

groundwork on twitter

Social media is not going anywhere. If you’re a freelancer or entrepreneur, you can’t afford not to be on social media. And yet you can’t afford to waste your precious time tweeting, ‘gramming, and liking into the vast ether with no direction and no results.

To help you streamline your social media efforts, here are some tips on making the most of your time online. Note: this is not an exhaustive social media guide or strategy, nor will it help you with your personal social media usage. That, my friends, is a whole different animal…

1. Choose your social media networks wisely.

It can be tempting to create an account in every network out there and add all the little share and follow icons to the footer of your website. This might look lovely to your website visitors, but ask yourself this: How many social media networks can you do well?

If the honest answer is one or two, pick one or two.

And now, the most important part. Do research before you pick your networks! Don’t assume based on a hunch that your potential customers are on Facebook. Create surveys, compile stats, and make an educated decision about where your audience is the most active.

Finally, if you aren’t getting traction on a chosen network, ditch it. You will need to pivot and change your social media strategy constantly, so don’t spend time on something that just isn’t working.

2. Set specific goals.

Wandering around without a destination in mind is nice, but save that for your next vision quest and set a goal for your social media activities. If you have no idea what you are trying to get out of Twitter, chances are you won’t get anything out of it. Try setting one simple goal for each social media network you engage with.

As a Twitter newbie, I thought the name of the game was to get more followers. But why would I labor for a bunch of followers who don’t interact with me? I quickly realized that my best use of Twitter is to engage personally with the local business community in New Bedford. Since I shifted focus, I’ve had a lot of great and fruitful connections, some of which have even turned into collaborators and customers.

3. Track and manage your time.

Most of us in the self-employed realm are spread pretty thin. My day today includes writing this blog post, following up on sales leads, preparing tax documents, posting to Instagram and Facebook, making coffee, sweeping the office floor… you get the idea. I’m pretty sure we’re all in the same boat.

I find it incredibly helpful to set aside time blocks for my social media activities. I might budget a total of 30 minutes a week for Twitter, one hour for Facebook, and two hours for blogging. This time budget will shift depending on where my focus is, but staying within a set time limit helps me to stay on track.

4. Plan your content.

It’s easy to get bogged down in the trap of “what the hell do I post?” And the immediate, ever-changing nature of social media makes it difficult to plan in advance. I’ve tried pre-loading and scheduling a bunch of content in HootSuite, but I find that those posts always come off as impersonal and timed. The best social media posts feel natural, honest, and fresh.

So what to do? Try planning a monthly or weekly content theme. For Groundwork, one month could be all about productivity in the workplace. Another month could be about spotlighting local entrepreneurs.

Often I will abandon my theme and post something in response to the conversation that’s happening on the networks. But the theme is a helpful guide, and when I am stuck, I can quickly come up with an image, quote, or blog post that fits with my theme.

5. Measure results.

Metrics are the bane of social media marketers everywhere. It is nearly impossible to accurately measure the influence that you generate through your Instagram feed. And no, your Klout score isn’t good enough here. I’m not going to go metric crazy, but here is a simple way to measure results:

  1. Review your goals on a weekly or monthly basis.
  2. Evaluate your activity and interactions on each social media network you use.
  3. Ask yourself: Are you meeting your goals? Be honest.
  4. If the answer is yes, yay!!! Keep doing what you’re doing.
  5. If the answer is no, change something. Pivot. Stop spending time on what isn’t working!

Quality over Quantity

The final takeaway here is to use your time wisely! Quality interactions with your target audience are so much more important than sheer volume of tweets or status updates. Take time to plan ahead and evaluate your results frequently, and the rest will fall into place. Now I’ve almost used up my blogging time budget, so I’m off to other things!

Do you have any tips or tricks for saving time with social media? Let us know in the comments below.

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