Finding Time to Engage In Social Media

Rumor has it 2010 is the year that social media will become mainstream. The early adopters have already left the station, and the early majority has boarded and the late majority is in line. This means by 2011, 84% of individuals will be using some form of social media. Still not convinced? Check out the Social Media Revolution video.

The biggest reason people DON’T use social media

There is no doubt the number one reason for NOT using social media is time. People are already short on time, and just the thought of using social media creates mental stress as we conceive of the hours and hours of time sucked into the virtual realm of the social vibe. The fact is, you don’t have to spend hours a day. You can choose how much time to spend on social media, and then implement a schedule that works for you. The key here is to get engaged and be consistent.

The Social Media Diet: finding time for a social media plan

As a solution to the time dilemma, I wrote The Social Media Diet, a 30-minute-a-day plan for getting involved in social media. I came up with a 7-step plan to figure out where social media will fit into your schedule:

  • Step 1: Choose how much time you want to invest M-F
  • Step 2: Choose what you want to get out of social media
  • Step 3: Choose your networks
  • Step 4: Calendar in your time
  • Step 5: Track your progress
  • Step 6: Stop when your time is up
  • Step 7: Keep it up!

Step 1: Choose how much time you want to invest M-F

It’s best to choose how much time you can put in each day. Even if it’s only 15 minutes, that’s okay. It’s important to do it daily so it becomes a part of your routine. You only have to engage Monday through Friday. If you want to do more on the weekends, great, but at least commit during the week.

If you have people who work for you or your company, factor their time in as well. Collectively come up with how much time all of you will engage in social media tasks.

Step 2: Choose what you want to get out of social media

What you want out determines what networks to choose. There could be many reasons, but only you can determine what is uppermost on your list. I would chose ONE objective to focus on. This will help keep you on track:

  • Generate leads for business (probably the #1 reason)
  • Learn what others are doing in your industry
  • Generate PR for your company
  • Connect and interact with customers
  • Share information to establish your expertise
  • Generate SEO (search engine optimization) links for your website
  • Just to see what it’s all about

Step 3: Choose your networks

Based on the list above, I would suggest you choose 2 of the following networks to get you started. Once you’re in the groove with 1 or 2 networks, then expand to include others.

Generate leads for business (probably the #1 reason)
  • LinkedIn Groups
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Blog building
  • Guest blogging
  • Actively work on LinkedIn connections
  • Industry message boards
Learn what others are doing in your industry
  • All social media platforms
  • Industry message boards
Generate PR for your company
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn Groups
  • Article Distribution
  • Create a blog or guest blog on industry blogs
  • Use Stumbleupon, Reddit, etc. to distribute content
Connect and interact with customers
  • Blog
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
Share information to establish your expertise
  • Guest blogging
  • Industry message boards
  • Article distribution
  • Answer questions in LinkedIN Groups
  • Participate in industry message boards
Generate SEO (search engine optimization) links for your website
  • Commenting on blogs
  • Guest blogging
  • Participating in industry message boards that are not behind a login
  • Press release and article distribution with in-line links in content
Just to see what it’s all about Ask your friends or customers what their favorite networks are, and choose what seems appealing.

Step 4: Calendar in your time

Many people ask me how it is I get so much done. Well for one, I calendar in specific tasks in order to accomplish them. Calendaring is the #1 way to achieve goals. I know many of you are crinkling your faces at this moment, but seriously, this is how you’re going to get this done.

Look at your schedule, and honestly evaluate when you could fit in some time to implement your social media plan. Let’s say you have committed to 15 minutes a day. Find the same 15 minutes each day so it becomes a habit. It could be first thing in the morning, just after lunch, or even at the close of your day. Right at the moment it doesn’t matter when you do it, just that you do it!

It’s important to actually put this time INTO your calendar. If you are using Outlook or Google Calendar, set up a reminder so it flashes on your screen to tell you it’s time to start your social media tasks. Treat it like a real appointment.

But I really just don’t have the time…

Sometimes you have to be clever about it, but there is always time to be found if you look hard enough. I took a poll of several people who have found time to include social media into their schedule. Here are some of the ways they found to fit the time in:

1) I started making coffee in the office instead of stopping at Starbucks each morning. The 20 minutes I saved in travel I now spend on social media.

2) I put social media apps on my smartphone, and now whenever I wait in line, wait for a stop light or wait for anything, I am on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn and working my networks. I’m amazed how much I get in with just 2-3 minutes at a time.

3) Our office wanted to implement a social media plan. Together we committed to shortening our daily status meeting by 15 minutes so we could all return to our desks and implement our social media strategy.

4) We did a poll in our office to find out who was using social media. We then came up with a strategy that included time people were already spending. Together we promote our articles, tweets and other online links.

5) We hired a consultant to teach us how to use Twitter. We found we were wasting a lot of time figuring it out. He showed us some great tools to help us manage Twitter and make it go faster. After the class, we found it very easy to fit in 15 minutes a day per person because we knew exactly what to do.

6) Each person in the office chose which social media outlets they wanted to use. Then our vice president hired his niece to spend a day creating accounts for each person. She set up profiles, photos, and all the details. That way we were ready to go out of the chute!

7) We asked everybody in our company if they wanted to help write our blog. We found 7 people who wanted to help. Each of us wrote 3 blogs a month, and it has been easy to post daily blogs for our customers.

Step 5: Track your progress

Keep an Excel spreadsheet or other document where you track what you’ve done in your social media domain. It could be as simple as tallying your progress:

  • Sent 5 tweets today
  • Put one comment on a blog

Or you go into more detail by copying and pasting URLs of places you’ve left comments. We signed up for Disqus, which is an excellent tool that helps track comments on blogs. Unfortunately it only works on blogs where’s it’s installed, but it’s becoming more popular, so it’s start towards organizing all those blog comments.

Step 6: Stop when your time is up

As important as it is to commit to doing social media, you must honor your schedule and stop when your time is up. I set a a pop-up reminder on my computer that simple says “time to stop.” If you go overboard, you will get frustrated, and there will always be tomorrow to do more.

Step 7: Keep it up!

While nobody expects perfection, do your best to honor your social media commitment. If you do it consistently, in about a month you’ll start to see an online network begin to build. After two months you will likely have some new online friends. After three months, you’re certain to see some impact in your business. If you find yourself getting bored with the outlet you have chosen, throw in another one, or research articles on how to use that outlet better. Just don’t give up! This is the new way of networking, and pretty soon you won’t meet anybody who isn’t doing it.

How do you find time for social media?

I’d love to hear the ways you have found time to fit social media into your schedule. I’d also love to hear what kind of results you’ve seen from the efforts you’ve put in. Please share in the comments how it’s working for you!

3 Responses to “Finding Time to Engage In Social Media”

  1. Great practical article on how to get something done. I am very proud to see how productive you have become using coaching and putting tasks into your calendar. You produce amazing results.

  2. Bonnie Landau says:

    Wow, I’m blushing, Ralph! Coming from you that is quite a compliment! I wouldn’t be where I am without your guidance. Truly a beacon of light in the confusion of business. Thanks so much!!

  3. Steve Weed says:

    Every time I talk to someone and they roll their eyes, I know they have been sucked down the vortex of “I don’t have enough time but I should..” Have a time budget aligned with a strategy is good management in every part of my business but even more so with social media.