I started some research on some of the ways people waste time on social media and came across a bunch of articles from the late 2000s discussing whether or not social was a big waste of time for businesses. It’s funny to look back on that time period now; social media was still a question rather than a statement.
There’s no question now that social media marketing is worthwhile for businesses. And since it’s relatively inexpensive to get started, it’s a perfect tool for small businesses and startups.
But just because social media is a way of life now, doesn’t mean you (or your employees) can’t waste time on it. In fact, there are more ways now than ever before that people lose time and productivity to social media time sucks which eat away at profits.
Here are the 10 biggest time wasters with regard to social media, and how to avoid each one.
1. Not Selecting a Focus
A huge trap I see business fall into every day is failing to pick a focus for their social media efforts. That is, they try to be everywhere at once and establish a presence on every social network there is. While it’s a good idea to set up profiles on every site to secure your brand name, you don’t need to be active on every site. In fact, doing so only cuts into time you have to spend on more efficient uses.
For starters, not every social media network is suited to every industry. If you don’t have an audience there, why bother spending time on it? You could also dilute your message if it’s spread across too many networks. For example, repurposing content is an effective way for content marketers to save time and make the most of every piece of content they create. Spread yourself too thin on social, however, and you’ll find you burn through your content a lot faster, without much effect. If you need more help figuring out which social networks are a good fit for your business, read “How to Determine Which Social Media Network Fits Your Business.”
2. Not Having a Strategy
When you start anything new for a business, it’s vital to have a strategy. So, why do so many business owners and marketers toss caution to the wind and jump into social media with no course of action? In my experience, these people are trying to do too much at once. It’s not uncommon for there to be multiple large goals associated with a social media strategy, and each of those goals is often broken down into small accomplishments. Obviously, you can’t do it all overnight.
Instead, write your biggest goals and complete small tasks each day that move you closer toward accomplishing them.
3. Not Having a Schedule
Another major waste of time for those getting involved in social media is not having a schedule. What if you forget to post one day? Or you devote a whole day to social when you should’ve been doing other work? It needs to be a regular part of your schedule or else it’ll become an ineffective distraction.
4. Not Using the Tools Available to You
The interfaces included with all the popular social networks are perfectly fine for posting and interacting with people. But they’re not the most efficient. In fact, it’s a much better idea to use a more robust social tool to tackle multiple networks at once. Something like Hootsuite, Sprout Social or Buffer will do the trick.
5. Using Too Many Tools
Social media tools can be awesome in terms of the amount of time they can save you. That being said, using too many can become a distraction. Choose a favorite and stick to it. Keep it simple!
6. Trying to Do Everything Yourself
As your social media efforts grow, the number of tasks you’ll need to complete each day will also increase. Plus, an expanded social presence tends to go hand in hand with increased business. There may come a point when you simply have too much on your plate to handle it all on your own. Should that time come, it’s perfectly okay to outsource some tasks, such as post-scheduling and analytics monitoring. You’ll still be in control of what’s said, you’ll just have some help getting that message to your audience.
7. Failing to Schedule Posts in Advance
Speaking of scheduling posts, failing to do so can put a major strain on your workload. Business owners can’t be present on social media sites at all times of the day. This is the kind of time suck that discourages business owners so much they want to toss out the idea of social media marketing altogether.
8. Getting Caught Up in Real-time Chatter
Conversation and engagement is everything that makes social media marketing great. But getting wrapped up in trivial conversations can distract from your larger social goals and your regular tasks. Keep your social conversations tight and focused to avoid wasting time.
9. Letting Every Notification Distract You from Work
This time suck probably affects every industry. While it’s important to respond to people that mention you in tweets or comments, you don’t necessarily have to reply that second. In fact, responding to every single tweet, mention, comment, or message you get when you receive it means you’re being pulled away from some other task repeatedly. This lays a major blow to productivity and fuels the corporate idea that employees just goof off on social media.
According to Yast.com, Dr. Gloria Mark, associate professor at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California, found that on average, workers are interrupted every three minutes. Many of those interruptions are small and take only seconds or minutes of our time, but bigger and more important interruptions occur roughly four times per hour. “Research shows that “when you’re interrupted, you don’t immediately go back to the task you were doing before you were interrupted. In fact, workers tend to take on two additional tasks in between the interruption and returning to whatever it was they were doing before.” According to the same article, “Another study by Dr. Mark shows that, in an effort to make up for distractions, individuals try to worker harder and faster at the expense of personal wellbeing and — to some extent — the quality of their work.”
10. Failing to Engage with Your Audience
A strong part of the value of participating on social media is building a relationship with your audience while humanizing your brand through real engagement and conversion. But if you don’t bother to respond to people who’ve taken the time to reach out, you could be wasting your social media efforts entirely.
Business owners and marketers know now that social media is a vital component of any marketing strategy. But it’s not something you can just start doing without any forethought. Social media is a legitimate way to market a business, build awareness, grow your reach and create a community, but if you (or your employees) get trapped in these time-wasting traps, it’ll take a lot longer to see real results. Avoid these traps to maximize productivity and start realizing the real benefits of social media.