Earlier, I wrote an article on why scheduling updates is dumb–with a caveat. While I’m quite certain that posting status updates to hit certain “peak times” is at least a waste of time and at most counterproductive, scheduling out your updates does have its merits. I’m a productivity geek, anything that lets me squeeze more out of the day is something that I can get behind. This is partially because I work from home, or airplanes or park benches and partly because I enjoy living life. The more I can get done in the time I allot myself to “get things done” the more time I have where I don’t have to “get things done.”
Getting things done is why I check my email three times a day, sometimes less, but never more. Having my email tab open and constantly switching back and forth is disruptive to my thought process. When I’m trying to write or strategize, the last thing I should be worried about is the latest update to a flyertalk thread I’m subscribed to. It’s why all the blogs I read are syndicated to my Google Reader, which I read first thing in the morning every day. This is also because the New York Times is too expensive. Getting things done is why scheduling your status updates and tweets is so important.
I’ve talked to clients who have taken seminars on social media or otherwise done their homework. Most, by a majority, of them think they should be spending an hour a day on social media. I’m here to tell you that is way too much time. Why? There are a few reasons. First, an hour a day isn’t specific enough. Second, an hour a day isn’t a big enough block of time. Third, an hour a day is too much time!
An hour a day will turn into an hour a half a day, two hours a day or even three. Why? Because an hour a day isn’t a one hour block, an hour a day is “popping in” every 45 minutes to see who has mentioned you. It may seem like you’re spending very little time on your networks, but in reality you are spending a good chunk of your day on them. Even if you do manage to keep your actual time on Facebook and Twitter to an hour a day, you are still spending at least that much time transitioning between tasks. Refocusing isn’t cheap time-wise and keeping TweetDeck open all the time isn’t going to do you any good.
This is why we need to set aside a big block of time, 2 hours is plenty, at the beginning of the week where you can sit down an strategize. Affording yourself the luxury of an uninterrupted block of time will allow you to focus on the task at hand. Your results with social media will be better because you can concentrate on your strategic position and your results everywhere else will be better as well because you wont be worrying about checking your twitter feed after you finish every email.
Two hours seems like an eternity to sit down and write status updates, tweets, links, shares and mentions. But by conventional wisdom you should be spending twice that much time on social media, at least. That’s overkill for most small businesses. Of course, if you’re not in a sole proprietorship and you have a marketing director and thousands of clients you interact with on daily basis across different web 2.0 platforms things are a little different. But the idea is still the same, this is scalable. Instead of once a week set aside a block twice a week, three times. Whatever your specific needs are. The important part is a specific, large chunk of time be sectioned off to work on social media, instead of “just popping in.”
All this isn’t to say that you should neglect your social media for 6 days at a time. You do need to check it every day. But again, do it once a day. Your content should be all set to go from your strategy session earlier on in the week. This is a time for maintenance, responding to customers, and peers, not creating content. If you have a stroke of genius or a timely update that needs to go out, great, post it, save your pre-made content for later. 10 minutes a day should be plenty if you don’t have to be creative! Now your up to three hours a week for social media, your results will be better and you’ll get more done in the rest of your life.
A bonus for scheduling updates at the beginning of the week: You get to read over them the next day and make sure that your tone is right, that they make sense and that they are “awesome.”