Time management is like a bad headache that refuses to go away. Its treatment, more often than not, is down to self-management: first things first and all that stuff.
If you want to become skilled at social media, you have to (fully) commit. And that doesn’t mean showing up when you feel like it – you have to turn pro (or at least think like one), and accept that no amount of tinkering round the edges, or leaving the tactical aspects to someone else will enable you to leverage your intellectual capital. This applies to both real time platforms (Twitter) and something more stable (e.g. a WordPress blog).
For those people who are ‘selling’ social media, it’s easy to produce an instruction manual, propagating their brand of shamanism. But, for everyone else, social media has to fit around the day job.
I have lost count of the number of times my counsel has been sought on the appropriate amount of time to spend on LinkedIn or Twitter. I usually prescribe something modest – 10 or 15 minutes – but, truth be told, I haven’t the faintest idea? Your practice is your practice, and what works for me or others isn’t necessary replicable. In truth, you need to prepare yourself for a process of iteration that can, in equal measure, be exhilarating and exhausting.
But there are few hacks you can consider if you want to keep up with the Joneses.
- See how much of your activity can be controlled through a mobile device. If you are struggling with the IT department that refuses to allow 3rd party applications, may be you need to have a quiet word with someone. You have already loosened your grip on the work/home/life divide and it would be nice not to be glued to a laptop or PC 24/7.
- Accept that you are not Superman/Catwoman and can’t be everywhere. Clients first means that… clients first. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn taking priority – pull the other one!
- Social media is addictive. The more you feed it the more it will require your attention. Discipline yourself to only check in at pre-agreed times.
- Run less tabs open on your browser. I have worked for a while with one browser tab open (Chrome) and that means that my eye is not caught off guard by the little Twitter birdie. And forget those extensions that have counters – they are a pain in the arse.
- It is tempting to automate your activity. In principle there is nothing particularly abhorrent with this practice but don’t gorge yourself on spitting forth more and more. It’s not good to see a blog post sent at 03:04. I know Twitter is full of insomniacs but it looks daft.
- Install a dashboard like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. That should save you the hassle of opening every single platform and you can see a lot more of your activity in one hit.
- Content is still the white gold of social media. I don’t care how many funny Tweets you send or status updates on LinkedIn or Facebook, I want to understand how you can help me. You have heard it many times before (I hope) but start thinking like a publisher. They are smart – they don’t have a plethora of editors for nothing. They want to build an audience and know that comes down to producing sizzling hot content, not the yawn-worthy, frighten the living daylights stuff that tends to be circulating. If you don’t like writing – shame on you – then try AudioBoo, Soundcloud (sound) or YouTube or Vimeo (video). And don’t come out with the usual crap of “I haven’t got time.” A Soundcloud recording takes less than 5 minutes from recording to syndication. You waste more time than that chewing the fat about last night’s TV or your latest rant about where you work.
- If you do have some time on your hands (yes really) then make use of it and produce a few pieces of content in one go and drip feed those over the coming weeks.
- Get a buddy or better still a coach. You just need someone to keep you focused on the end game.
- Focus on your passion. Social media is not meant just for work material. Yes I know this might cause a few ructions amongst my legal brethren but too much of one thing makes Jack/Jill look dull. You may not like my tastes in music, books, poetry, sport or my family but that’s not the point. It shows that I have a life and am not obsessed in selling you all the time.
- Don’t go for numbers. Think who you can help as much as much as who you can sell to. Givers gain may be as old as the Hills but it still strikes to the heart of the paradigm.
- Don’t be afraid to go quiet. I once left my Twitter feed alone (not the current @Ju_Summerhayes) for over 2 months and I didn’t lose any followers. Ditto LinkedIn and Facebook.
I am not the sort of guy who likes to preach – sermon on the Mount and all that guff – but in a world of blandness, social media as a paradigm has the power to shape your career, business and life like nothing else. That might like sound complete BS but that’s only because you haven’t seen a runaway success to hang your hat on – you know the video that gets 5M views or 50M fans like Lady GaGa.
Even if you are not a numbers person, the most important take away from this post is to use your time wisely to build a permission asset of fans so that when it comes to sales time not only do they queue up patiently to buy but are also willing to spread your gospel of Excellence.
Finally, if you haven’t ventured out of your safe reading then go grab a few Seth Godin books (Permission Marketing or Tribes) and top up your glass with Trust Agents (Messrs Brogan and Smith). I don’t like to encourage plagiarism but you could short circuit a lot of the Q/A trotted out as if ‘it’ were novel.
In summary, if you want to make the most of your time, then my best advice is little and often rather than thinking you have to be the world’s uber guru. Leave that to the Valley and the plethora of entrepreneurs all merrily beavering away on developing the next Facebook clone.