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Summary:

Many Twitter conversations revolve around how much time we actually spend on unpaid social media, and how much time we should spend. Few have an answer because the answer is, “It depends.” (I know, I know. Stick with me.) The Social Networking Time Factors So what […]

Many Twitter conversations revolve around how much time we actually spend on unpaid social media, and how much time we should spend. Few have an answer because the answer is, “It depends.” (I know, I know. Stick with me.)

The Social Networking Time Factors

So what factors affect your decision in figuring out how much time to devote to social media? Ask yourself these questions.

  1. Do you use social media for personal uses, business uses or both?
  2. Do you work for yourself or someone else?
  3. What is social networking’s role in your marketing activities?
  4. What are your current paid activities?
  5. Are you earning enough money?
  6. Do you have enough work?
  7. Where do you find your potential clients?
  8. What is your business and personal schedule like?
  9. Can you make social media pay?
  10. How much free information can you give way?

I spend about two hours a weekday on average doing social networking, and it’s my number one marketing activity.

How to Determine the “Right” Amount of Time for You

You’ll need to record the amount of time you spend on a few things. Plenty of time tracking applications exist for phones, online and desktop use. If you don’t use one yet, do a little research to find one that fits your needs, or just rely on pen and paper.

Track:

  1. Time spent on paid work.
  2. Time spent on unpaid work-related activities (like social media), broken out by activity.
  3. Personal time.

Do this for a week or two. Tracking your time spent on projects is important, but the point of this activity is to see where your time goes for paid, unpaid and personal activities. Don’t break out your time on spent on paid work for the purposes of this exercise. Your result could look like this:

The breakout of your unpaid work-related time could look like this:


What you do with the data depends on the answers to the time factor questions above. For example, if you answered “No” to “Are you earning enough money?” and “Do you have enough paid work?”, you either need to cut down on personal and unpaid time, or spend more time marketing to bring in more work.

Have you seen a pattern in where you find your clients? For me, most come from word-of-mouth recommendations. Social networking supports that by keeping my name out there, so if you find most of your clients this way and need more work you might consider increasing your social media time.

Obviously, the longer you track your time, the better understanding you have of your typical schedule. The more you know, the more you can tweak your schedule to devote your time to go where you need it most. You might consider doing a review of your time spent on a quarterly basis to verify that you have a good balance of all your activities and they’re related to your goals. Be flexible and let your schedule be your guide.

How do you figure out how much time to spend on social networking?

Photo credit: Patrick Nijhuis

  1. Hi Meryl,
    Since our twitter conversation on this topic, I have come to realise that for all of us, the importance of social networking varies depending not only upon the nature of our work, but how highly we rate it is as a work requirement. Those days that I am too busy to do more than simply retweet a good post that I have read, I feel like I am missing out on opportunities to mingle with ‘my colleagues’. Like all strong, trusting relationships, interaction is a must.

    cheers
    Pam

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  2. While theoretically sound, I think this idea breaks down when it comes to social media because:
    1) Rarely can social media be done well in chunks. For me, it’s a fits and starts kind of thing, where I’ll be on FB or Twitter for 15 minutes, then off, then back on. It’s tough to track time and stick to it when a conversation takes off unexpectedly.
    2) As you mention in your next-to-last paragraph, social media is also a form of marketing/PR. As such, it may take time to pay off in terms of leading to paying gigs.

    That said, you do bring a good point to mind in that we do need to consider from time to time if we are, in fact, “spending our time wisely” (as my third grade teacher would ask). By being honest about that answer, we’ll know if we’re doing the right thing with social media.

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    1. Sam, I admit peeking in Twitter more often for a brief time. But feared it’d clutter the point. So I agree with you that for some of us, we need to check it on a consistent basis throughout the day. But for a lot of us, we easily get carried away if we check in too often.

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    2. Sam makes a good point about social media activity being a fits and starts king of thing. I check in on my social networks during the day, but never sit down and say, now I’m going to spend the next two hours on social media, unless I am blogging and promoting blog posts. The trick is to not feel the need to check in so often that it is disruptive to other activities during the work day.

      An interesting exercise to understand how you spend your time, which is very applicable in this case, is to record your daily activity at 15 or 30 minute intervals. The results are surprising. It is a good way to track productivity.

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  3. I learn time management from here.!

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  4. [...] Much Time Should You Spend On Social Media? January 13, 2010 — translatorpower via webworkerdaily.com Posted in Uncategorized. Leave a Comment [...]

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  5. Your blog is excellent and very much on point!
    I agree with your recommendations to track your time. I coach people to do the same exercise and it opens up your awareness to what you are doing and what you are not doing. I also recommend the “Social Media Diet” of one half hour per day.

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  6. [...] figuring out your process for social media, you might want to figure out how much time you should spend on social networking. Also, be aware of your clients’ preferences to make sure you go to the places where [...]

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  7. Will you tell me please how social media affected in our daily lives and what we can do after knowing the importance of social media?

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  8. Meryl, This is excellent. Another thing I have issues with! You’ve hit the nail on the head – it has to be conscious and not just spaced out surfing. Thanks for the play-by-play, cuz really, it does help.
    Linda

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  9. [...] I check in with social media a few times a day with the bulk of it occurring in the morning and evening. To make the most of my social media time without falling into the trap sticking around too long, I created a habit to check in for a few minutes and get out. I also figured out how much time I should spend in social media. [...]

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  10. Excellent idea, thank you so much! I’m a stay at home Mom of two small children, blogger, and aspiring writer. I’ve been spending endless amounts of time on activities that may or may not contribute to my goals. I need to slow down, focus, and plan. But there’s so much I want to do and so little time that I haven’t been able to pin down a schedule. I like your idea of tracking current activities for insight.

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  11. [...] These five I do on an almost daily basis. It works because I have a comfortable workload. You can do much more with online marketing, but other online marketing tools take more time. Some people do videos. Some do podcasts. Some do webinars. Some do email newsletters. Doing a video or podcast requires thinking about the goals, writing the script, recording and editing before you can publish. With social media, you have control over how much time you spend. [...]

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  12. [...] between. But most of us also have destructive habits. These may include digital fiddling, spending too much time on social media, and working such long hours that our health pays the [...]

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