Five tips to avoid the social media time suck

How much time do you lose every day on social media? And how much is it costing your business as a result? Read five tips to help you avoid the social media time suck.

If you’re anything like us, you find it remarkably easy to lose entire hours on social media (especially if you have a big project you need to start!) without any discernible business results to show for it.

Luckily, Nicola Semple, small business mentor and founder of Build Your Biz Online has some helpful advice to help us all stop losing time on social media – and do something more constructive instead!

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Social media is the biggest time waster

When I ask the ladies that I work with ‘what is your number one biggest time waster?’ the almost unanimous response is ‘social media’.

Social media is a wonderful invention. Never before has it been so easy (or cost effective) to connect with our potential customers. Even the smallest of businesses can stand shoulder to shoulder with larger more established brands and share their message with their audience.

However it is far too easy to get caught up in the social media time suck. You innocently venture onto Facebook to post one article on your Facebook business page and you emerge 40 minutes later, having watched four motivational videos, got caught up in a discussion about whether parking permits should be allowed on your street, looked at an ex-colleague’s wedding photos, shared a cat post and…. oooppps you forgot to create that post on your business page and you have to dive headfirst back into the fray!

Whether Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram is your poison of choice there is the potential to waste a lot of time on social media.

Five tips to avoid the social media time suck

If you want to avoid the social media time suck, here are five simple tricks I recommend. I hope you find them helpful.

1) Schedule a three-day TOTAL social media blackout

Yes, you heard me right! To kickstart this process of becoming more effective on social media I want you to go cold turkey for three whole days.

The thought of it might bring you out in a cold sweat but during those three days you will come to realise how much extra time that you have available to you. Also when you do return to your favourite social media platforms you will realise that you didn’t miss out on anything anyway.

You will be in a much better position to get really focused and use social media as a tool to grow your business and not allow yourself to get distracted.

2) Create a social media plan for your business

Creating a social media plan for your business does not need to be complicated. Get a piece of paper or open up a blank spreadsheet. Write the days of the week across the top and the social media platforms that you use down the side. Then decide:

  • What type of post are you going to create each day on each channel, for example promote a blog post, inspirational quote, video message
  • What ‘conversations’ will you take part in each day, for example Facebook promo threads, Twitter hours
  • How many new people and who will you interact with each day, for example send five tweets to influencers in your industry every Friday

Once you have a general plan of your week mapped out you will find it takes a lot of the pressure off your social media activity. There will be less ‘thinking’ required as you will know exactly the type of information and interactions that you intend to have each day.

A social media plan will also allow you to be more focused and consistent with your social media activities.

3) Schedule your posts

Once a week use a tool such as Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule your key posts for the week

I am the first to advocate that social media is all about being social and should not be an automated process, however I do believe that there is great value in scheduling posts.

Scheduling allows you to have an ongoing presence on social media but not spend your entire day online. You can then use your daily time allowance (see below) much more strategically to engage with your followers and have real-time conversations.

4) Set yourself a daily social media time allowance

How much time can you really afford to spend on social media each day? Decide on that amount of time and stick to it.

I would suggest you give yourself 10/15 minutes twice a day and set a timer if you need to. When the alarm goes off your time is up, it’s time to shut down your social media applications and get on with other things instead.

5) Eliminate distractions

Now that you have established some good social media habits it is important to eliminate any distractions that might suck you back into wasting time.

Switch off notifications on your social media accounts. You really do not need to be alerted every time somebody posts a comment on your Facebook page or sends a tweet. You can rest assured that you have your two time slots a day to take care of everything.

If you are feeling very brave you could remove your social media applications from your phone. This can be a double edged sword as I often use my 10 minute time slots when I’m waiting to pick the kids up, so having easy access to my social media apps on my phone is a must.

However if you find yourself distracted and constantly checking social media on your phone then this could be a great way of eliminating that bad habit once and for all!

Nicola Semple is a small business mentor and founder of Build Your Biz Online. Nicola passionately believes that even the smallest business can harness the power of online marketing to help them punch above their weight and be a little business with a big voice. You can access her free Biz Builders Resource Library here.