Friday, September 12, 2014

Wasting the Day Away on Social Media

You know they’re a huge time-waster, but somehow you just can’t pull yourself away from the latest Facebook drama or the beautiful photos of yummy desserts on Pinterest.  And your favorite celeb is just blowing up Twitter with her latest antics.  Besides, you make your living online.  The time you spend on social media is “work.”  Isn't it?  After all, everyone says you have to market your business on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn, right?

It's true that social media marketing is a powerful technique that all online (and offline) business owners should explore.  It’s also true that much of what we do on these sites is most definitely NOT work.  But separating the two is tough.

Not all social media is bad.  It’s a great way to stay in touch with far-flung family and friends, and yes, it’s an important business-building tool as well.  So rather than try to eliminate it all together, why not make it a regular, scheduled part of your day?
Catch up on your Facebook feed over your morning coffee, then log out and get to work!  Browse Pinterest while you eat lunch.  For actual work-related social media tasks, schedule a time during the work day to log in, update your status, respond to questions, and check up on your competitors.  The key is to actually schedule this as you would any other business-related task, and not to let this “work time” turn into a chat with your sister about holiday plans or a gossip session with friends.

One way successful entrepreneurs separate work from play is by the tools they use.  When on the computer in the office, they avoid social media sites because they are working.  Instead, they limit their use of social media to off hours by only visiting the sites on their mobile phones or tablets.  I rarely get on Twitter or Facebook on my computer.  I wait until I have some free time and then only use my phone.  (That's why I tend to "disappear" from time to time.  I'm so busy working that I don't have time to even get on my phone!) 
By adopting this type of policy, you create a boundary in your own mind.  After a few weeks of practice, hopefully you will no more think of hopping on Facebook from the office computer than you would consider wearing your bathrobe to the grocery store.  The two activities just don’t go together!

If you really can’t stay focused on work once you’ve logged into Twitter or Facebook (they’re just so distracting!) consider letting someone else handle your social media accounts.  You can create updates ahead of time, then simply turn them over to a virtual assistant to schedule.  Or use tools like SocialOomph to schedule your updates for the day or even the week.  Then once a day you can log in and respond to your followers.
Finally, if you’re not using social media as a marketing tool, consider taking a sabbatical. Simply make a deal with yourself that you will not log in or check any social media site for a month or a week or even just for a day. You might just be surprised to see how much time you really do waste playing Candy Crush.