Social media is useful for networking and promoting your small business, but it can also be addictive — and consume an inordinate amount of your valuable time. So, how do you minimize your hours on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other sites without sacrificing the legitimate benefits of being there? Here are six strategies to keep social media from becoming a time sink.
- Stay focused. Resist the urge to read every post that comes down the information highway. Prioritize your social media tasks — and eliminate all but those primary endeavors that boost your business. Continue your high-value activities, such as proactively searching LinkedIn for new partners, customers, and allies.
- Set parameters. Determine the total number of hours per week that you can afford to spend on social media. Do not go over that limit. A few hours per week is plenty of time for most small businesses, which generally do not need to check social media more than two or three times a day. Make it known that you are not “always on,” so that anyone who needs to reach you in a hurry will do so through other channels.
- Turn it off. Close or quit any social media programs that constantly nag, notify, interrupt, or distract you. Remove social media from your System Tray (that little grouping of icons at the bottom-right of the screen in Microsoft Windows). As a rule, you should not open the floodgates and empower every incoming social media alert to pop up in your face while you’re trying to concentrate on other things.
- Be direct. Limit yourself to reading only direct messages such as DMs on Twitter and email on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. You can read or search other content any time. When people need to reach you urgently enough, they will find another way such as firing off a personal email or placing a call. Do likewise when you need to target a specific person or organization.
- Work toward your goals. Set social media business goals and decide which uses of social media will help to reach them. Avoid any other use of these applications.
- Shun fads. Do not get involved in every new social media site and application that comes along. There are hundreds out there, and the few that are popular have become so for a reason: They are effective. That said, if a popular site isn’t doing your business justice, be prepared to leave it behind and try another approach. Not all social media are effective for all markets and niches.