Do you feel like you’re drowning in social media overwhelm?
There are several platforms to choose from, tools to use for each one and they always seem to be continually changing.
For bloggers wanting to grow an audience, social media is something that just can’t be ignored. Social media has the potential to bring your blog to the attention of millions of people around the world.
According to the infographic below from the Socially Aware Blog, people spend several hours per month using social networks like Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest. From year to year, the amount of time people spend on social media continues to increase.
As smartphones and mobile access to the Internet becomes as common as indoor plumbing this increasing trend is very likely to continue.
#1: Take it slowly.
Choosing which social media platforms to use can be daunting. It can feel like each time you get online there’s an expert singing the praises of one over another. You were just getting the hang of the last one you joined, now what? Did you make a mistake? Should you start over?
Take a breath, relax and start off with the one that attracts you most. Learn the basics, read the terms of service and get used to incorporating it into your schedule before adding another to avoid becoming overwhelmed. It’s better to approach social media slowly and methodically than joining several networks at once.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be on all of them to have a successful blog. There are no social media police that will come by to reprimand you for not joining every social media site. This isn’t a competition between bloggers to see who’s on the most social networks. In fact, taking a slower more methodical approach could actually benefit you in the long run.
Remember the saying Jack of all trades, master of none? In trying to use several social networks at once, you might be spreading yourself too thin and could make mistakes. Not being familiar with the different networks’ terms of service or etiquette could result in loss of friends/followers or even in your account getting shut down.
#2: Plan and schedule time spent on Social Media sites.
Since each blogger’s situation is different, that is a tough question to answer with a specific amount. It really depends on your goals and your circumstances. A single person with a part-time job and a blog has different time commitments than someone with a full-time job, a blog and 6 kids.
Think of it this way, you’re trying to connect with and build relationships with people through social media. If you spend just couples of minutes each month with someone that you want to be friends with offline, chances are you won’t have a strong friendship. If you spend more time with that person each month, let’s say a few times a week, you’re more likely to have a stronger friendship, right?
The same applies to building a community on a social network. The more time and effort you put into it, the greater the rewards.
This doesn’t mean that you have to dedicate hours a day to build a successful social media presence. Having a plan and schedule in place can help you figure out how to incorporate it into your day with minimal interruption. Start there and look for opportunities through out your day to incorporate social media such as while waiting in line at the grocery store or while waiting for an appointment.
#3: Stay focused.
Often, people get distracted while engaging with their social networks by funny posts and beautiful images. Remember, you’re there for a purpose, to build a community of people who share a common interest, your blog.
You should enjoy your time on social media but your boss (meaning you) would not be happy if you were lollygagging around Pinterest looking at pretty pictures when your time could be better used elsewhere. Resist the temptation.
Think of your time on social media for your blog as a work assignment. You have to complete certain tasks in a certain amount of time. This doesn’t mean it can’t be fun but to keep from spending too much time there create some structure around it and stick to the plan.
If you have some down time later in the day, go back to those networks for fun. Get lost in pictures of cute kittens and puppies. Connect with your friends and family members. Relax and enjoy.
Having this relaxed approach every now and then is actually beneficial to avoiding overwhelm. When using social media for fun you’re likely to discover new features, new methods of posting or even new people to connect with.
#4: Have fun.
Let’s take the friend example from before – every single time you meet your friend offline you wouldn’t want to shove your latest blog post at them and have no other communication. That sounds like a terrible friendship for you and for them.
Make social media a positive and friendly experience. Think of the lessons you learned as a child about friendship. Keep words like sharing, cooperation, listening, fun, considerate and trust in mind when using social media to stay on the right track.
#5: Just say, “NO.”
Give yourself permission to not feel pressured to respond to every message and Tweet as soon as they appear. Don’t push yourself to attend every Google+ hangout you’re invited to. It’s okay if you don’t utilize every bell and whistle available. Work things into your schedule at a pace you’re comfortable with.
If you start using a network and realize once you get in it, you’re not having much success or fun with it, it’s okay to stop. Just let the people you’ve connected with there know of another way to stay connected with you. I’ve recently seen some bloggers leave Facebook for Google+. Their last post on Facebook left instructions how to connect with them on Google+.
Social media can have several benefits for your blog including community building, traffic generation and can even help your search engine ranking. However, it doesn’t have to become overwhelming and take over your life. Having a plan, having fun and being considerate of your own needs and limitations can really help.
Listening to those who have already found success can also help. In Episode 125 of the Learning with Leslie podcast, Leslie gave some great tips about the best ways for bloggers using social media. He even mentioned some of his favorite sources for tools and content that can help you use social media more effectively. You should really check it out but remember, you don’t have to do it all at once.