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.
- Do you use social media for personal uses, business uses or both?
- Do you work for yourself or someone else?
- What is social networking’s role in your marketing activities?
- What are your current paid activities?
- Are you earning enough money?
- Do you have enough work?
- Where do you find your potential clients?
- What is your business and personal schedule like?
- Can you make social media pay?
- 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.
- Time spent on paid work.
- Time spent on unpaid work-related activities (like social media), broken out by activity.
- 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