Writers in the Storm

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January 16, 2019

WITS Throwdown: Putting the "Social" in Social Media

Social Media

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>

We've had two posts in this throwdown already. One from Fae, who pretty much detests it. One from Julie, who has found the one place in social media that doesn't give her hives makes her happy.

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.

The above links are pretty big picture but there are also specifics to be had:

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.

Love. Them.

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.)

Made in Canva...in about 8 minutes.

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?

*  *  *  *  *  *

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.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, or here at Writers In The Storm.

26 comments on “WITS Throwdown: Putting the "Social" in Social Media”

  1. The best advice I got was to find the platform you're comfortable with and stick with that ONE. Don't let the Fear Of Missing Out make you feel obligated to be everywhere. I use TweetDeck to schedule Tweets, but my main platform is my Facebook Author Page. And I follow (loosely) the 80-20 "rule" that only 20% of any posts should touch on "buy my book."

    1. Exactly, Terry! I think people wig about the "have to's" instead of focusing on the "can do's." 🙂 80/20 is a great ratio...but it involves math! I like the 1 in 12. You can look at your updates and if 1 in 12 of them is about "buy my stuff," you're doing great.

    1. Totally, Laura. I looked at your post and saw the social everywhere. You are rocking social media. I think this is because you enjoy it AND because it keeps you connected. That is what social media is about.

      One caveat I should put out there - be sure you have a piece of the online sphere that you own. A great troll can wipe out a Twitter or Facebook account, but your self-hosted site/blog/mailing list is yours no matter what.

  2. You two have so much fun with social media, I hope I can "get there" sometime. Maybe I'll make that phrase my 2020 "word"!

    1. Fae, both Laura and I have found or created our tribe. When you find the people who share things that fascinate you and/or make you laugh and feel the same about you, social media will be more fun. You are passionate about animals and healing and some very cool things - I'll bet there are tribes of people talking about that who would make it a treat for you to get online.

    1. YAY!! That makes my day, Tiffany. I think a lot of people do social media because they think they "have to." In the history of my own life, I've rarely done well with a "have to" I thought was pointless so it's unsurprising those people detest it.

      The key is to discover how can fit your schedule and your needs, and engage in a way you find relaxing and rewarding. Sometimes that means "only Instagram" or "only Facebook." Sometimes that means only cat memes and boards on Pinterest. You will know when you find your fit because your tribe will be there. 🙂

  3. You rock, Jenny! So much info! I'll be exploring some of the links you provided. I don't like Twitter, but love Facebook and have only one all-inclusive page, not a separate author one (will one day). I've kept my Instagram mainly private for family and close friends but thinking about creating an author Instagram page for my writing life. Pinterest is fun --I just pin stuff I'm passionate about, like animals, weird insects, writing craft and quantum physics theories. Thanks for a great post!

    1. LOL, thanks Barb! You always make my day. It sounds like you are dialed in to the platforms you like already, which is awesome! I hope you take some of those photos you dig on Pinterest and share them to your Facebook feed. Spreading out the same passion and all that - who doesn't like a two-for-one. 🙂

  4. I'm not a social media fan but I do understand its importance. Not all of it is applicable to me at this moment but as soon as I finish(or right before) my WIP I know I'll have to get busy and get my name out there. Thanks so much for this overview and making it sound less scary than I thought it would be.

    1. Not scary at all, M. Lee! You have your gang here at WITS, and possibly in your own writing chapter. You might also consider taking Kristen Lamb's blogging class, which is geared to writers. It is WONDERFUL.

  5. Great breakdown of how to use social media! And ooh, all those useful links. 🙂 Great post, Jenny!

    But here's something this introvert will confess to an extrovert: I rarely use Facebook or Twitter or Instagram on my phone. If I'm out at the grocery store, I'm already overstimulated with all those people, I don't want to be social on media then too. If you see me in a grocery store, don't just talk to me—be sure to wave. Because I will very likely have my headphones in, listening to something that takes me away from all that chaos. Lol.

    1. Julie, how interesting! I like to be in my own world at the store too...but to me that includes getting my social media done if there is a long line. 🙂

  6. Now I know how to NOT lose my mind at the grocery store. I never have to read the cover of Cosmopolitan again! (Unless I really want to) Cashier lines are getting longer and longer with the advent of self-service. I don't self-serve--that puts people out of work. So I wait. And now I will socialize on line. Right now I'm waiting for a plumber...a great time to catch up on my social media. Now why didn't I think of that before? Thanks!

    1. LOLOL. Yep, I'm not a big fan of waiting. It was Barbara DeMarco-Barrett who turned me on to this trick with her book, PEN ON FIRE. I tried her "in-between times" method and got an extra 12 hours of writing in each month. It's amazing how much time you can find in your days when you look for it.

  7. I think being present and using the right hashtags on certain media (twitter and instagram) can draw traffic to you. A friend asked how I had a recent uptick on my twitter--she is obsessed with analytics and metrics. I really don't know other than engaging. She was disappointed I didn't have an exact answer for her.

    I think influencers, bloggers, etc...are seeing rapid growth on instagram at the moment. But, Instagram does force one to post something more than a comment and it's a mobile app, so one will have to use a tablet or phone for uploading content. There are some traditional bloggers backing away from their blogs and providing more content--this was information gathered from a blogger making six figures on her blog and branding. This conversation happened last week.


    1. I don't have a lot of info into Google Business but I can sure check it out. I really liked the communities in Google+ but they sure put no investment into getting people to use the tool.

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