Time management and social media

TimeOne of the most common questions I get asked is this: How do I make the time to regularly update my social media?  It’s an excellent question and certainly a fair one.  I’m a big believer that the most precious resource we have isn’t money or information; it’s time.  Time is the one resource that is finite and you can never get back.  Plus, we are all busy lives and creatures of routine – shoe-horning in a new responsibility, like regularly updating social media, can be challenging at best and impossible at worse.  So, how the heck do you do it?  How to you minimize your time but maximize your investment in social media?

Some thoughts:

1) Check out Hootsuite or a related program: Hootsuite is a social media management platform that allows you to easily manage all of your social media accounts in one screen.  It also allows you to pre-schedule tweets, which can make your life much easier! A word of caution for pre-scheduling–it doesn’t mean auto-pilot.  Let’s say you schedule a tweet to publish at 10am, and a worldwide catastrophe occurs at 9am.  You have to be cautious and ready to cancel pre-scheduled tweets if the local or worldwide situation dictates.  Many companies, like the NRA, have found out the dangers of Hootsuite the hard way.

2) Plan ahead: I’ll confess a dirty secret: I’m typing this entry on Sunday morning, two days before it is going to be published.  I wrote Monday’s entry on Saturday morning.  I always try to write my blog entries at least two days before they are set to publish; this allows me to have content ready to go in the event that I cannot, for whatever reason, write a blog entry the night before.  I also usually know what I am going to blog about a few days ahead of time.  A program like Hootsuite can allow you to plan ahead with Facebook and Twitter as well; this is something that can make your life much easier!

3) Go mobile: This might seem like common sense for many of us who are addicted to our phones, but for many, it’s still a new concept.  You have to become more reliant on your smart phone in order to make social media work for you; for example, did you know that a majority of Twitter use actually comes from a mobile device? Using social media from a phone also encourages you to check social media when you have “downtime” – like when you are standing in line. Of course, then you get tempted to check your phone TOO much (I can see my wife smiling at this), but that’s a discussion for another blog entry.

4) Delegate: One of the more difficult things that some of my colleagues in the House struggle with is that, if you delegate your social media use to others, you are essentially allowing someone else to put words in your mouth.  This is absolutely true; but, when you think about it, this is not much different than having someone write a press release on your behalf.  The best way to get comfortable with having someone else manage your social media account is to have firm guidelines in place.  These guidelines should include instructions on content to be used, tone, policies that dictate when you will (and when you won’t) respond to constituent concerns, and more.  Having set operating procedures can really put your mind at ease when it comes to someone speaking on your behalf.  You can also make it so that you pre-approve every status and tweet that goes out; this isn’t a bad think, necessarily, but it will slow down the process, and in social media, that can be problematic.  Pre-approval of status is a trade-off.

5) Have content ready to go: In this blog, I would say that the majority of entries discuss when something goes wrong with a government official using social media.  As such, those entries are typically pretty timely.  To that end, I’m dependent on the news – if someone doesn’t make an error, I may not have an entry.  However, I always try to have a few topics ready to be blogged about.  Planning ahead prevents you from sitting at your computer, staring at the screen, trying to figure out what you are going to say.  It helps you better manage your time and manage your content while also helping to keep your social media use on point and on message.

Is managing your social media a huge time suck for you?  Any tips you want to share? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe to the Email newsletter!

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