The real title of this post is How To Put the Social in Social Media Without Losing Your Mind or All Your Free Time.
That's a heavy promise, right? Social media does like to suck up valuable family time, writing time, down time. If you think about it as a big vaccuum that gives nothing back, you WILL be resistant to this whole "online social thing."
This post is about how pick your online locations carefully and develop habits that help fit social media into the life you actually have. It's about how to make connections during the time you choose to spend online. And of course, I share what I do to keep my love alive. <lol>
Those two are introverts, whereas Laura and I are extroverts. All four of us have different stances on this topic. Even on the extrovert side, Laura is retired and I work more than full time.
Translation: I have two part-time day jobs that sometimes expand to three, plus writing, plus volunteering, plus an eight year-old. (Plus a very understanding husband.) Many things in life are more important than my writing and I've had to learn to be okay with that.
It was hard to let go of perfection and my yen to Fast Draft, but there are rewards from my overburdened schedule. A big one is my time-saving social media habits, which I will detail at the bottom of this post.
Important Note (like super-duper important): Taking the "social" out of social media defeats the entire purpose. You will resent all that wasted time. (At least I would.)
If you've hung out at WITS for a while, you've heard me wax rhapsodic about social media before. Below are several of my posts that will give you all the how-to and "what the heck is it" info you might want.
- Social Media Habits that Support Your Brand AND Your Life - if you only click one of these links, make it this one. This post gives the nitty gritty on using easy tools to save time.
- The Personalities of Social Media (and which one fits YOU)
- What Kinds of Social Media Go Viral
- Social Media: Make the Most of Your Six Seconds
- 5 Easy SEO Techniques that Rock Your Search Rankings
The above links are pretty big picture but there are also specifics to be had:
- 5 Reasons Google+ Can Rock Your Search Rankings
- Do you Clean Up Your Twitter Account? (3 Easy Tips)
- Lisa Hall-Wilson knows how to rock Facebook.
- Marcy Kennedy posted on Twitter's 12 Best Hashtags for Writers.
We've also had stellar tips for not getting overwhelmed on social media from veterans like Roni Loren who gave this sage advice: Only focus on the things that sizzle your bacon. Also, Colleen Story shared 7 Ways to Keep Social Media from Ruining your Mood.
And then there is little ol' former technology-trainer me. I have a confession that won't surprise you... I freaking love software and apps.
I love the time-saving tools (although it's super hard to beat my own kitchen timer for time management). I love the way technology connects people. I love the way Excel's pivot tables summarize thousands of records into a table the size of your hand.
Technology is just cool.
However, time is in short supply and I've had to shoehorn social media into the schedule. Remember that promise from up top: How To Put the Social in Social Media Without Losing Your Mind or All Your Free Time ?
Here are my Top 5 "fit it in no matter what" social media tips:
1. The biggest trick I have is using the "in-between" time. In the long check-out line, or waiting in the doctor's office. Waiting in the car line to pick up my kid. While I eat lunch. Just before I go to bed. While my kid reads to me (with my phone hidden from her view so she isn't aware she only has half of my attention).
All those in-between moments add up. You'll at least get 30 minutes a day. You can do a lot with 30 minutes! Plus, you've turned those boring "waiting" moments into something that is a reward (at least for me). Boorah.
2. Planning is everything. Some of your time will just be spent scrolling, liking, commenting. But a smart author plans out the week or the month, so the important updates get out now mantter how busy you are.
You can do a ton of graphics in less than an hour each week if you use Canva. Laura Drake explains how to own Canva.
3. Decide who your audience is and focus your time in their neck of the online world.
I love what this article at Contently has to say - it's a few years old but it's still pretty accurate.
Let’s talk strategy. You have limited time, maybe limited content, and there is a very specific audience you want to reach. Here’s a quick, non-scientific breakdown of who uses which network:
- Teenagers gravitate towards Snapchat, YouTube, Tumblr, and Instagram.
- Soon-to-be-wives and soon-to-be-moms are all about Pinterest.
- Young parents and grandparents alike can be found on Facebook.
- Business types and leaders rule LinkedIn.
- Influencers and bloggers love Twitter, WordPress and Tumblr.
Here's an infographic with my thoughts on the main social media apps out there. (Yes, I totally think Facebook is a huge time suck.)
4. Set up Google alerts. You want the content you are passionate about to come to you so you don't have to spend time chasing it down. No one has time for that. Google Alerts email the info right to you.
To set up one (or ten) of these handy alerts:
- Go to google.com/alerts in your browser.
- Enter a search term for the topic you want to track. As you enter your terms, view a preview of the results below.
- Choose "Show Options" to narrow the alert to a specific source, language, and/or region. Specify how often, how many, and how to receive alerts.
- Select "Create Alert."
5. Don't be afraid to schedule. Especially during busy weeks, when I don't have time to both post AND monitor, scheduling tools let me "have it all." I go back and forth over whether I like HootSuite or Buffer better, but here is an article that compares them both. I also used Social Oomph for a while.
Overall, I'm super happy with social media. I don't use all the tools I'd like to use, and I always feel like I'm swimming up stream in terms of time, but notifications and alerts allow me to at least keep up with the people who are interacting directly with me. I count that as a win.
More than anything, your time online needs to be fun and productive. Find your tribe and enjoy them. If your time online is fun, you're less likely to resent it or view it as wasted.
Now it's your turn! Introvert or extrovert? Social media lover or hater? And what are the tricks that have allowed you to fit it into your busy schedule?
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About Jenny Hansen
By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 18+ years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.