We’ve all done it more than once when trying to be productive online: disappeared down the social media rabbit hole while our valuable time ticks by.
Part of what makes social media and social networking such powerful tools is their capacity to suck us in with endless information and entertainment. But how do you harness that power, without it taking over your life? Short of hiring an intern (which isn’t as effective as you might think), how do you add this to your already full plate?
Implementing an effective social media strategy takes focus, structure, discipline, and genuine enthusiasm, not unlike cultivating a rich and dynamic art practice. In fact, I urge you to see social media as an extension of your practice, where you have the control to shape the way your audience interacts with you and your output. In that spirit, here is some guidance to remember when crafting your strategy.
If you have personal social accounts, separate your leisurely social networking from your business. Create new accounts for your artistic endeavors, set aside daily “office hours” as part of your larger outreach efforts to utilize them, and stick to them.
It also helps to compartmentalize social networking platforms within your overall strategy. What do you want to get out of LinkedIn vs. Twitter? Robb Scott of The Artists’s Career summarizes this imperative well and thusly:
Facebook is my primary tool for networking with artists, friends and potential customers. I use Linkedin to connect with potential investors, gallery owners and business types. My blog is used to help target both audiences, as well as the mainstream media…In a sense I’ve created three separate businesses with their own needs and objectives. Each has a different approach and I must have a different way of relating and communicating with each.
When you create your social media “office hours,” figure out how much time you can and should budget for this outreach, and break it down into managing assets (like photos and videos), adding content, responding to your community, and networking.
Figure out monthly, weekly, and daily tasks, put them on your calendar, and treat them like you would any other scheduled tasks, like flossing, giving your dog heart worm medication, or changing your car’s oil. Start and end with the same tasks every time, so your mind establishes a flow that comes more and more naturally and makes you more and more efficient.
When you know you have a structure in place to take care of things at certain times, you won’t feel distracted in the moment-to-moment. Just because something is always on TV doesn’t mean you always have to have it on, and the same goes for your social media sites. Close the tabs when you’re done with your “office hours.”
The good news is, there are many, many tools available to you for streamlining your social media outreach, and they’re free. When choosing the contents of your own toolbox, keep these three tenants in mind: at-a-glance, linkage, and scheduling.
By using tools like BufferApp.com you can update all of your sites with one mouse click and keep the elements of your brand consistent and present in every aspect of your online presence. And by scheduling your content to update in advance, you can keep to those “office hours” without difficulty while still accounting for things like time zone differences in your followers.
There are some great lists of social media streamlining tools and techniques here, here, and here, and it’s all about finding the right combination of time, tricks, and temperament for your specific practice. Once you find that combination, you’ll be fast, thorough, and sharp as a tack! So tour your social networking facilities, and pick up the slack!