This is a post by ProBlogger Productivity Expert Nicole Avery
As bloggers, social media is a key tool of the trade for us. It allows us to grow our blogs, interact with readers, build communities and stay in touch with current events and news in our niche. But it can be a massive time suck and decrease our productivity if we let it.
There are two different ways that I see social media impact bloggers' productivity negatively.
Two Ways Your Social Media Habits Could Impact Your Productivity
Spending Large Chunks of Time
There is the blogger who spends large chunks of time on social media networks, tending to their own community, engaging in other communities, leaving comments, links etc and contributing to online discussions. The rationale behind this is usually to be increasing their exposure and becoming known in their niche.
Then there is the blogger who knows they shouldn't spend too much time on social media, tries to stay off it, but can't help constantly checking in for short amounts of time here and there across the day, that very quickly add up to a significant amount of time across the day.
How does this behaviour on social media impact their productivity? It impacts it in three key ways:
- The total time spent on social media ends up outweighing any gains that can be obtained from working on their presence on their social media networks.
- Multiple sessions on social media through out the day means they rack up a significant switching costs. You can read more about switching costs in this post, but in brief it is the time it takes us to move from one task to another, regain focus and actually start working. Research from the American Psychological Association has shown it can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s productive time.
- They suffer from attention residue from their time on social media and it takes them much longer to work on a task like writing a blog post, because their mind is not 100% on the task. For example a blogger is trying to write their post for the next day but a part of their mind is still thinking about the negative comment on their Facebook page and how they should reply to it.
Reducing even by a small amount, the time and number of occasions you are on social media, can reduce the above impacts and increase your blogging productivity. It doesn't mean that you can't be on social media, it just means you need to take a more planned and proactive approach to how you go about it. Here are two actions you can take to help you:
1. Create a social media strategy
Signing up to every social media network and spending time daily on each of them is one way of going about create a social media presence, but it is unlikely to be successful. To maximise the time you spend on social media, it is better to have a defined social media strategy for your blog. A social media strategy does not have to be complex and detailed but it needs to cover these key points:
How much time per day/week can you spend on social media?
Look at how much time per day/week you have available for blogging and determine what percentage you can spend on social media. How much time you spend will differ amongst bloggers and there will be times when you may want to spend more time on social media to support your blogging goals. They key is to determine on a regular basis how much time you will spend on social media and stick to it.
What social media networks are you going to be on and which ones are you going to be fully active on?
It is common for bloggers to sign up to most social media networks to have a presence on them, but unless you have a community manager employed, it is unlikely that you will have the time to spend significant amounts of time on all of them. If this is the case then, choose 2 -3 and focus on them. Create great content to share and spend time building your communities on those networks. The net result from having a bigger and more connected presence on fewer social media networks will easily be greater than spending a little time on lots of networks.
Define your goal for each social media network
For the networks that you are going to invest time in, have a goal for why you are there. For example, my goal for Twitter is to be seen as an expert in my niche and to create freelance and media opportunities (it brought me my book deal!), while Facebook is about helping my community organise the chaos of family life through my tips and sharing high quality articles I curate for them. Through helping them as much as I can for free, I am building up trust that will hopefully lead to them buying my products and services.
Determine your posting frequency
Cut through on most social networks is tough, but that doesn't mean posting more stuff will get you more notice. Buffer recently changed their Facebook social media strategy with great success:
We cut our posting frequency by more than 50% on Facebook and began to truly focus on quality over quantity. What happened next, even the most optimistic social media manager couldn’t have expected:
Our Facebook reach and engagement began to increase even though we were posting less!
Track your progress and tweak your strategy
Each social media network has some sort of analytics associated to it. Look at the data and see how it measures up compared to your goal. If it is working, keep going. If it isn't work out why and try something new to get the results you are after.
2. Create a social media batching process
If you are to go on to social media every time you want to post something, you are going to end up decreasing your productivity significantly for the reasons outlined above. There are absolutely times when you need to post live and interact with your followers in real time, but most posts can be scheduled.
Scheduling social media is the perfect task to batch process and instantly increase your productivity. You can read how this happens in a previous post I have written here on Problogger - The Science and Art of Batching to Increase Your Productivity.
Batching means you will allocate a block of time to schedule your social media posts for a week/fortnight/month. To really see gains in productivity from scheduling social media you need to create a process for how you do this. The exact process will differ slightly amongst bloggers, but I will share how I schedule for the key social media networks I am most active on:
Nicole's Social Media Scheduling Process
- I have determined how frequently I post to each network and the type of content I share. I use Buffer as my scheduling tool to schedule posts to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (you can share to more networks but these are just the ones I choose to schedule) and it works out the best time to share on each network.
- I use Feedly to read blogs and articles. It means I have significant sources of information to share on my networks. I will spend 10 - 15 minutes a few times a week to mark items that I want to share on my networks.
- I will set aside 45 - 60 mins a week to batch schedule social media posts. I will head to Feedly and go to my "Read later" tab and determine which pieces I will share and to what networks. Some pieces I will share to all three networks if I think it is relevant, others may only be shared to one network. I use the Buffer Chrome extension to schedule the content.
- I will also Buffer pieces of content from my blog to be shared on relevant networks.
- At the end of the session, I will go into Buffer and make sure there is a good mix of content shared and in the right order, eg I am not sharing four recipe posts and then four parenting posts, but a mix of different topics.
Creating a specific process like this means you reduce the amount of time you go searching for content to share or procrastinating about what to share. Once I have the week scheduled, I see this as my base content and will still often share content, add conversation and respond to questions/comments on my networks when I check in once a day.
Social media doesn't have to decrease your productivity. Create a social media strategy and batching process so you are in control of how you spend your time on social media and see your productivity flourish!
Do you find you are spending too much time on social media?