Getting sucked into social media distractions is a real concern for anyone using social media professionally. You might only plan on working on your Twitter account for 20 minutes, then look up 90 minutes later wondering where your time went.
Social media is notoriously distracting. So how do you stay focused when you’re working on your social media strategy? These ten tips will help.
Tip #1: Keep Your Business & Personal Accounts Separate
Mixing the two accounts is a recipe for disaster. You’ll log on to update your Twitter status, then get sucked right into the funny video of your next door neighbor’s niece.
If you have your accounts mixed, separating them alone will drastically boost your productivity.
Tip #2: Do Not Multitask
When you’re working on social media, you should spend that time only working on social media. Don’t do other things at the same time.
People will often try to do social media “on the side” while they’re taking care of other things. For example, you might be listening in to a company wide call that isn’t taking up your full attention. So, you might hop on Twitter at the same time to post a few things.
This is bad, because it trains your brain to not separate social media work time from other things. By not multitasking and only doing social media during social media time, you train your brain to work on social media in a very focused way.
Tip #3: Have a Daily Action Plan
Having a plan for how you spend your time on social media can really help minimize distractions. For example, if you plan on using your social media time to build an influence, you might break your time down like this:
5:00 – Schedule Posts in HootSuite
5:30 – Respond to @Mentions, Read Tweets, Retweet
6:00 – Send Personal Messages to Influencers
Don’t “wing” your social media.
Tip #4: Do Your Social Media When Your Work is Finished
Plan your social media time after the majority of your work is finished. Though social media is an important marketing venue, it’s rare that it’s really so urgent that it needs to be done early in the day.
Doing your social media last helps cut down the likelihood that your social media work would detract from the rest of your day.
Tip #5: Avoid Chats
Turn off your chats. Turn off Facebook chat, Google chat and any other chat programs you have running in the background. Many social networks will have a chat program weaved into their basic functionality. Make sure those chat systems are off.
Chats can throw your entire day out the window. Someone might message you and a 15 minute social media session suddenly turns into a 40 minute conversation. Often time’s you’ll have trouble saying no to someone’s communication because you don’t want to damage the relationship. You’re better off just turning your chats off in the first place.
Tip #6: Learn to Recognize Seemingly Urgent But Unproductive Behaviors
Do you really need to watch that 2 minute video that someone just uploaded? Do you really need to respond to that provocative comment?
A lot of the content you see on social media is designed to be inherently attention catching. They can seem urgent. But when you look at them objectively, you’ll find that it’s really counter productive to spend your time on it. Whenever you’re tempted to click on a link, ask yourself: “Is this really going to forward my business?”
Tip #7: Don’t Do It Alone
Doing social media alone is a big pitfall for many reasons.
First, there’s nobody to tell you when you’re going off course. Second, it’s easy to get distracted and not get things done if there’s nobody you’re accountable to. Third, you have nobody to share your triumphs with, which makes social media less exciting.
Having someone to share your social media ventures with gives you a strong framework to work in. Sharing your projects with a supervisor, a peer, with your business partner or with fellow online entrepreneurs can really help boost your social media focus.
Tip #8: Stay Focused on Learning One Thing at a Time
Social media users often try to take on far too much at once. They try to learn how to run a contest, how to learn new software, how to use a new social network and so on all at the same time.
Each task individually might not seem like it’s challenging to learn. But when you pile your plate high with new things, you’re going to have a scattered attention span. That sense of being scattered will cause you to be more easily distracted. It’ll also take you longer to learn any skill than if you learned them thoroughly one at a time.
Learn to focus on learning one thing at a time. Once you master that one thing, then you can take on something else.
Tip #9: Use Tools to Condense Your Sessions
It’s nearly impossible to focus on your work if you have to log into Twitter, Facebook and other social networks many times throughout the day. But many audiences do expect you to post updates throughout the day.
That’s why it’s absolutely crucial that you use tools like HootSuite (shown below) and TweetDeck to schedule posts and updates. These tools allow you to communicate at the frequency that your followers expect, without having to distract yourself from your workday all the time.
Tip #10: Be Metric Driven
When you’re accountable for delivering metrics and you use your social media time in a goal driven manner, you’re going to be much more productive. It’s when you’re just “doing social media” for the sake of doing it, without a goal, that tends to detract from focus.
If you don’t have clear metrics, you’ll have a hard time staying driven. After all, you won’t know when you’re doing things right and when you’re doing things wrong, so it really doesn’t matter what you do. But when you have clear metrics, you’ll know exactly when you’re on track and when you’re not.
What you track improved. Track your social media progress.
These ten tips will help you stay focused on your social media activities, so you progress quickly in the social sphere and so your social media activities don’t detract from the rest of your workday.