Friday Fun – How do you manage social media?

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: I recently asked NYT Best Selling author Chris Bohjalian how he managed social media. Beside corralling it to early morning and evening (after he completed his writing goals for the day), he also said that he posts 40 to 50 comments/tweets a day (which he said takes about 30 minutes.) “If I can’t give my readers 30 minutes a day then I’m a despicable person,” he said.

We all struggle with social media – what’s too much, what’s not enough. Let’s take a look at how our writers handle this raging bull.

wendy-shotWendy Thomas: I’ll be the first to admit that I spend far too much time on social media. I try to answer as many comments and tweets as I can. The thought of setting a limit, quite honestly, has never occurred to me. I typically keep my social media windows open at all times and when I hear the siren cry of that beep indicating I have an interaction – well I just have to stop what I’m doing to check it out (and there is never any “just checking it out” I always come up many minutes later wondering where the time has gone.)

I’m using Freedom (and it now has an updated feature (you pay for this)  where you can schedule uninterrupted time.) I’ve tried to schedule my own time, but it doesn’t seem to work. I need a strict guard to the internet telling me “not right now, later, but not right now.” Social media is an ongoing problem that I continue to try and manage.

JME5670V2smCROPJamie Wallace: I’m afraid that I’m guilty of the same crimes Wendy confessed. Though I know that I should relegate social media (in my case: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, responding to comments here, and reading/sharing other blogs) to certain times of the day, I can’t quite seem to bring myself to cut off my 24/7 access to the digital conversation. Like Wendy, I almost always have tabs open in my browser to my social media pages, and I tend to “visit” there more often than I should.

That said, I have put some order to the madness by doing *most* of my blog reading at night during an otherwise unproductive time and queuing up tweets via Buffer (my most favorite social media tool for scheduling social media updates). I also try to batch process the bulk of my comment responses. Though this often means carving out a whole hour (or more), I believe it’s more efficient than posting ad hoc responses in real time.

I am always trying to assess the value or “ROI” (return on investment, in my case an investment of time) of my social media activities. At the moment, since I’m not actively promoting anything specific, it’s hard to measure whether or not my time is being well spent. I continue playing in these spaces (and organically building my communities there) so that – hopefully – when I do have something to promote, I’ll have an existing audience to talk to. I’ll get back to you once I see how that works out. 😉


23 thoughts on “Friday Fun – How do you manage social media?

    • Love the metaphor of social media being like a window that let’s you look out, and others look in. Very interesting take that gives some added perspective. Thanks for sharing.

  1. Using Twitter lists is a good way of keeping up with the people you particularly want to keep up with as well and still lets you follow people back without worrying you won’t be able to keep track of those you really want to talk to.

  2. I try to check first thing in the morning while I am still waking up and drinking my first cup of coffee, and, like Rebecca says, I use lists to keep track of the people I particularly like. But yes, I do admit that when writing is not going well or when I have a little break, I can get sucked into it again… and emerge a couple of hours later wondering where all the time has gone.

    • I also usually hit my social networks first thing, but I’m starting to wonder if this is the Wrong Approach (at least, for me). I’m too likely to get sucked down that rabbit hole. I might experiment with holding off on social media until later in the day … see if that gives me a productivity boost in the AM.

  3. I’m guilty of the same crimes as Wendy and Jamie too! One tool I’ve been using that’s really helping is Leechblock (for Firefox). I identify a few different groups of websites. One group, I set it to block completely from 9 am to 5 pm Mon-Fri. The other groups have different time limitations — e.g., 10 minutes per hour, 10 minutes every two hours. It’s completely flexible. When I spend more time on Facebook than I said I was supposed to, it blocks me. If I absolutely *have* to keep accessing the site, I can get around Leechblock, although some days I turn that feature off too — nope, can’t get in until my time is up, period. It’s a huge help, I’d definitely recommend it! (Or a similar product if you have another browser.)

  4. I generally only look at my social media twice a day including blog reading. Generally, I only post content to my blog and let WP copy it to my various accounts. I try to reply to everyone who comments on my blog posts and I am sure that both of them appreciate that.

    • So true. It becomes a knee-jerk response to a moment of boredom or insecurity. Maybe part of the solution is having a purpose for each visit to a social media site. Give yourself a job to do or a task to complete. Hmmm … worth considering.

  5. This was a timely topic for me as I work on adjusting my writing schedule to fit in a revamped blog. Just like Jamie, I usually start a writing session with 30 minutes of checking social media, but, too often, when I finally come up for air quite a bit more time has passed. I like Jamie’s idea above about having a purpose to visit the site…might try that! And, thanks, Joy, for the suggestion of Leechbox – will check it out!

  6. An interesting and timely post for me as I struggle to juggle various aspects if life and the all-consuming social media. I’ve actually backed off from Facebook as I find it too dustracting and sometimes irrelevant. Prefer to spend time on reading, commenting and connecting with fellow bloggers. Either first thing in the morning or late at night.

  7. I balance social media in my down time. Yes, Facebook is distracting, but then I remember all of the other things that I could be doing. I usually spend half an hour every evening, posting blog posts and tweets associated with my blog posts. I really don’t feel like my blog is a consuming piece of social media. Really, it’s just another way for me to write and get my thoughts out there, so no time ever feels like it has been wasted.

  8. I usually allow three times a day for my social media. I will respond to any things needed in the morning when I get up, then in the afternoon I will allow time to read the different blogs, and then end my day with reading blogs or blogging myself on my site. I do not keep any browsers open when I am working so I am not distracted by the siren call of the notifications because I will get sucked in and work will get put off. 😀

  9. A fine post. Wendy – I loved what Chris Bohjalian noted about reading and responding. Jamie – right now I’m not promoting anything specific, either. But I love meeting new people and other writers. I love learning stuff. And I love building friendships and acquaintances. In the future, when my new book comes out, perhaps these friendships and acquaintances will be interested. Perhaps not, but that’s okay, too. I find value in my interactions online for themselves.

  10. Great post. Personally because I have a limit on what I can access. Live in a Black spot area (remote) I must through necessity post blogs. check on messages. Read what is necessary and helpful in early morning or late at night. After 1pm I can still work but the internet becomes slower and costs MORE. In so many ways its a blessing because I simply have to be disciplined in my online interactions. My new book Marranga-Limga will be launched at the local Library so thankfully I can leave most of the media stuff re this to them. My main reason for online communications is to meet others, learn from them, and be inspired by their lives and journey.

  11. I recently broke my smartphone, and I am using a “burner” phone. It was secretly a blessing, as I have found that not having a smartphone actually decreased my “social media time suck” and “email time suck”. Now I have to think about it before I type “facebook” or “gmail” into my browser. It’s interesting that I was able to write 7000 words this weekend in between normal life stuff as well… maybe there is something to this, at least for me. Not in any hurry to get another smartphone!

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