Social media marketing – how to avoid wasting time online

by Kirsten Hodgson

It’s very easy to waste time on social networks.

Firstly you need to be clear about WHY you are on a particular platform and how you are going to use it.

And secondly, you’ve got to be focused and disciplined in your use of it. It’s frighteningly easy for 15 minutes to turn into half an hour and for little to show for it at the end of a session.

I’m certainly guilty of spending more time than I’ve allocated on social networks now and again and of not being particularly productive so I was excited when Justine Parsons, my brilliant virtual assistant, posted to a LinkedIn group saying that she adheres to a list of daily tasks to ensure she uses her time spent on social networks wisely.

I asked her to share why she did this, what she does and how this has helped her.

Here are her responses:

What are your social media objectives?

There are a few.  Obviously, I want to drive traffic to my website and raise my profile but one of my biggest objectives is to make connections, not necessarily clients.  Being a VA means that, other than catch-ups with clients, I am often isolated because I work from my home office.  Social media is my lunch-room in a way:  a way to engage one-on-one, ask others’ opinions, learn from them and assist them.

Why did you decide to set up daily actions?

I was spending too much time online and was unfocused.  It’s extremely easy to spend a couple of hours reading content and discussions with nothing tangible to show at the end of that time.  Daily actions keep me focused and help me to achieve more in a limited time.

It’s not an ideal world and, when I’m busy meeting deadlines, my social media activity is one of the first things to be relegated down my ‘to do’ list.  Having a daily task list means I can tick things off as I complete them and move on to the next task when I next have time. This ensures I meet all of my social media requirements.

What do you do?

I spend half an hour every morning going through feeds and scheduling some of that content using Hootsuite (this activity does occasionally slip when I’m really busy – I’m only human!)  I use email subscriptions, Google reader, Prismatic and Netvibes to find content.  I find doing this invaluable from an educational perspective.

I’ve assigned one of my contractors the task of spending an hour each week going through my LinkedIn groups and identifying discussions which meet set criteria.  This means I can open her report, click through to the discussion and comment in 5 minutes rather than having to trawl through groups myself. This was an area in which I previously used to lose focus and it ate into the time I should have been spending on client work.

I blog once a week and share my post on G+, LinkedIn (via both my company page and my personal profile), Twitter (I schedule a tweet about a particular post to go out once per month for three months – so each post is tweeted about three times by me), Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, StumbleUpon and some small business communities.

On Facebook I schedule posts once a week using a pre-determined list of status update styles.

I then spend up to an hour each night working through the other items on my task list.

Possibly the most important of these is my monthly newsletter.  95% of readers are my clients. The remaining 5% have subscribed either via my website or Facebook. I use my newsletter to promote clients of interest to a small business demographic, give some insight into my month and share content of interest.  I rarely promote myself but a newsletter will always generate work from ‘quieter’ clients.

What’s worked well?

Time spent on LinkedIn.  For me this is the ideal network and, to be honest, I learn as much from group discussions as I gain value in terms of connections and clients generated.  Time spent on LinkedIn equals results whereas the other networks tend to be more indirect for me personally.

Participating in group discussions, offering advice and opinion has resulted in some of my best clients.  LinkedIn generated clients have tended to refer others, use more of my services and are tech-savvy.

What hasn’t worked so well?

A lack of consistency.  Being so busy has meant there are times when I can’t afford to take on new work so I back off with my social media engagement.  I wouldn’t recommend this to any of my clients and find that you do lose traction after a period of poor engagement and content marketing. [I totally agree with Justine and have noticed the same thing].

What have you achieved as a result of implementing and following your social media task list?

I make much better use of the time I do have.  I use my contractors as much as possible but believe engagement should be undertaken personally.  By following a task list I feel better, knowing I have covered all the basics and, as mentioned, on days when time does run out I can complete tasks not carried out later in the day.  Being a list person, having this document also keeps my brain clear and focused on the task at hand, rather than veering off on a tangent.

 What tips would you give to others looking to best utilise their time online?

If I didn’t offer social media as a service, I would only be active on LinkedIn. It’s here that I find value and I would do a better job with less to do.

My advice is to be realistic about what you can achieve. Write yourself a list of tasks to keep you focused and accountable and keep in mind that social media is primarily about people.

Outsource some of the tasks if this helps you to spend more time engaging and building connections.  Content sharing, connections, profile maintenance, competitions and events can all be delegated.  Engagement cannot.


So there you have it – some great tips about how to maximise the time you do spend online. I’ll definitely be putting together a weekly task list. How about you?

What other tips would you share to help others use their time on social networks wisely?

Related articles:

Justine Parsons: Social media marketing when you’re just too busy

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Specialising in professional services and law firm marketing. I help firms to retain and grow existing clients and attract more of their ideal clients. My core services include social media for lead generation, voice of the client programmes and tender strategy and development. Outside of work I love to run. I’m a bit like Forest Gump in that I’m not that quick but can keep going for ages. I also enjoy coming up with new inventions. Unfortunately, most of them have already been invented! | * Professional services marketing consultant | * Legal marketing consultant | * Law firm marketing consultant