Social Media Time Management

This article was originally written in November 2009 for Plugged In Lawyer, a blog about social media for lawyers.


Chris Brogan wrote a brilliant post today called How Much Time Should I Spend On Social Media?

Why brilliant?  Because his take is fresh and out of the box.

Instead of telling you that you need to spend X hours on this piece and Y hours on that piece, he gives you a simple formula like this:

  1. 1/4 of your available time should be spent listening
  2. 1/2 of your available time should be spent commenting/communicating/engaging
  3. 1/4 of your available time should be spent creating original content

You’re the only one who knows how many hours you have in a day to devote to your online marketing strategy and it doesn’t matter who is doing the telling, you’re not going to find four hours in your day that don’t exist, just because some guru told you four hours is the magic amount of time to devote to your social media efforts.

Other than the fact that he doesn’t dictate some magic number of hours per day to you, I also think Chris’ formula for how you divide up your time is right on the money.

Listening To Your Network

To start, you can’t authentically engage and provide value to your network, if you don’t know what is being said out there in your network.  This is where the listening aspect come in.  You have to listen to figure out where you can add value.  Once you understand the context within which your network is operating, you can safely proceed to sharing your opinion and adding value to your community.

Engaging With Your Network

At first glance, it might seem a little out of whack to spend half your total time engaging, but I think the point that Chris is making is that Twitter and Facebook have become a huge part of the social networking landscape and both of these platforms are more about sharing information than about pushing your own content.

You can’t share, however, without researching and reading materials to share. By the time you factor in reading the news in your space and discovering other nuggets to share, the engagement segment of the formula really does take the lion’s share of your available social media time.

And I agree that it’s a good use of your precious time to share lots of soundbites on Twitter and Facebook, using other people’s information. You can write a great blog post, but at the end of the day, it’s just one piece of information with your name on it.  Leverage other people’s information and share many soundbites during the commenting/communicating/engaging portion of your time.  Remember OPM?  Leverage, baby!

Creating Original Content For Your Network

Content creation can take a chunk of time — or not.  Great pillar content for a blog or a new white paper requires research and drafting and editing, but who says you need pillar content?  While I personally happen to think that a little pillar content is good for demonstrating expertise, you can probably also demonstrate expertise by banging out short blog posts commenting on events and other people’s material.

No matter what your opinion is on pillar content, it is good to be reminded that blog posts are just one part of a bigger formula.  Blog accordingly.

Take Aways

Finding success with this new thing we call “social networking” requires more than broadcasting your expertise in a one-way blog post.  True, authentic success in social networking requires you to engage in what is going on, and engaging is about community and the back and forth of multi-party dialoguing — the cocktail party.

Want more evidence that engagement is where it’s at on the web?  Check out An Insider’s Secret To Twitter Success.

Do yourself a favor and put a note on the wall next to your computer with Chris Brogan’s formula.  If you stick to its rough proportions, you’ll be hitting all your engagement bases.  To your unlimited social networking success!

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