Anyone who regularly uses social media or even the internet in general knows about the time vortex. You think that you’re going to y’know, just check out what’s happening on your Facebook wall, glance briefly at Twitter or find out what it’s like to be a beautiful woman who has grown old via Quora and suddenly it’s five hours later and all your important work is still undone. This is fine if you’re on your own time but what if your job is to monitor and engage with the very services that act as such large distractions? Well, here are some top tips…
Use the social tools that are out there, but only for your business accounts
Everybody has their favourite social aggregator: Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Seismic…online marketers treasure little more than having the entirety of their social network reach spread out in front of them. Aggregators makes it super easy to curate content, post to multiple accounts and deal with queries across a swathe of social sites. However, how many of us have made the mistake of adding their personal account to the aggregator so that they can keep in touch with their own social presence alongside the official streams? For some people, their personal brand is very much tied in with their business and so the maintenance of their own account is genuinely part of their working day. However, the danger with pairing a personal account with your business ones is that your feed is going to be throwing compelling tidbits your way – it’s so easy to fall down a rabbit hole of discovery.
But the compelling tidbits about my field are my bread and butter! How do I keep current without losing focus on the job at hand?
Curation, my friend. The answer is always curation. If you have to keep your personal accounts in the mix, use the tools that sites like Google+ (circles) and Twitter (lists) give you to whittle down your feeds to the people that you deem the most essential and interesting. Then, allot a certain amount of time in your day for ‘exploration’ work and stick to it. Personally, I allow 90 minutes per day of dedicated exploration time, which I meter out over my seven/eight hours at work – whether I explore in a large blocks of time (3x 30 minute sessions) or in ten minute snatches to give myself a break, depends on my work flow that day. I manage to keep my curiosity healthy but in check by utilising two really important tools:
- The stopwatch function on my phone
- A bookmarking service that is easily accessible via my smart phone, like Evernote
The stopwatch (with its incredibly irritating buzz – very important) stops me from running over time and getting engrossed beyond my set limits. If I want to continue reading something, I simply bookmark it in something like del.icious or Evernote. If it’s important to my work I can resume reading it in my next ‘social break’ or if it’s just really cool, I have the option of reading it on the train-ride home. It’s a nice treat for the commute after a long day’s work!
Working out the rhythm of your day
It’s probable that my methods won’t work for you precisely. It’s therefore important that you experiment with the way you partition your time so that you find a rhythm that works for you. A lot of social media management is the refusal to panic, and a calm acceptance of your own hard-won methodology. Above all, I think the most important lesson I have learned about social is to acknowledge that I must let the feed go. It is impossible to know everything the moment it happens and as long as my clients and customers are being taken care of and well-represented, I can let go of the obsessive need to stay absolutely current. Butterfly brains are endemic and admittedly rather useful when you’re working in social but it’s so easy to let that mindset slip into anxiety. Listen to the clock and your gut and take courage. Good luck.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Sam Wright writes about marketing for Brand Republic Jobs