5 Signs You Could Be Getting More from Your Social Media Time

  • May 23, 2010 by Corbett Barr
  • 21 Comments

Social Media as a promotional tool for your business can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it is a great way to interact and form bonds with existing customers and to find new ones. On the other hand, it’s easy to spend a lot of time on social media without really knowing if you’re getting good value in exchange for that time.

Are you wasting time with social media, or getting the return you’re hoping to? That’s a question everyone using social media as a promotional tool should be asking themselves.

If you’re not sure what the answer is for you, here are 5 signs you might be wasting time with social media:

  1. You don’t have a clear social media strategy.
  2. Why are you using social media in the first place? How does it support your business goals? Investing time in social media simply because it’s popular or because you heard it can be an effective marketing tool doesn’t guarantee success.

    Your social media strategy doesn’t need to be complicated. It just needs to set some goals and define a path for acheiving them.

    Do you want to attract new customers/readers or strengthen relationships with existing ones? Do you want to influence people or win friends? Which social media platforms will you invest time in? How much time will you invest? What message are you trying to get across?

    Start by answering questions like these. Then, once you’ve started using your strategy you can change it later if it isn’t working like you had hoped.

    You need a social media strategy. Without one, you might be wasting time.

  3. You have no idea what your return on investment is.
  4. What are you getting back from all that time you’re spending on social media? Again, the right answer depends on your particular goals. Once you know your goals, you need to try to measure how social media is contributing to reaching your goals.

    Measuring your return on investment might be as easy as knowing how many visitors are coming to your website from your social outposts. It could me more difficult though, like figuring out how well you’re improving relationships with existing contacts.

    In any case, if you have no idea what your return on investment in social media is, you might be wasting time.

  5. You find yourself putting off other important activities in favor of hanging out on Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  6. Are you a Twitter procrastinator? Do you often spend hours on Twitter or other social media platforms when you know you should be doing something else?

    You might be able to justify all the time you spend tweeting as being valuable promotion time. The problem is that promotion isn’t all that it takes to build a high-traffic website or blog. Without solid content, all the promotion you can muster won’t lead to a sustainable business.

    Putting off other important business activities like creating content in favor of spending time chatting on social media might be a sign you’re wasting time.

  7. You spread yourself too thin across many different social media platforms.
  8. Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Reddit, Blogs, Google Buzz, StumbleUpon… If social media is a good marketing tool, why not spend a little time on every platform out there, right? The truth is, it’s much better to focus your efforts.

    The real benefits of using social media as a promotional tool don’t become apparent until you’ve really dug in and invested time in one single place. One of the easiest mistakes to make is spreading yourself thin across lots of different platforms instead of focusing on just one or two.

    When you spread yourself thin, you risk never establishing credibility within any of your presences. Without credibility, your efforts to make new friends and get the word out about your business or site will be weak. On the other hand, a strong reputation within a social media platform will make it easier to accomplish your goals.

    Try to establish a strong reputation in one single platform before moving on to the next hot thing in social media. Spreading yourself too think is an easy way to waste time.

  9. You’re viewing social media success according to traditional metrics and demographics.
  10. Social media is all about human connections and relationships. It’s a two-way conversation instead of the old one-way broadcast. If you’re measuring success like you would in older marketing channels, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Success is no longer about page views or CPMs.

    To get maximum benefit from social media, you’ll probably have to give before you get. You should focus on how you can be useful to your connections and try to make friends. Real friends can become raving fans who share your story far-and-wide, but you don’t create raving fans by just pushing your own interests.

    Success in social media looks much different than it did in traditional media. Measuring your success according to outdated metrics is a sign you might be wasting time.

Are you wasting time with social media, or getting the return you’re hoping to? How do you know? Let’s discuss in the comments.

photo by LeeLeFever

Written by . Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.


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Mars Dorian May 24, 2010 at 12:18 am

Hey Corbett,

You got some pretty valid points. It’s sooo tempting to use social media all day without any ROI, just like checking your mail in the past years. You’re right you have to focus your efforts – being everywhere is a wasteful strategy, rather try to dominate your favorite platform.

HOwever, I always set a goal: Maximize my exposure while providing lots of value to the twittersphere – it’s a combo that works.

If you really know what you want to do with it, and you focus – you can do remarkable stuff, and if not – well, there goes your youth !

Corbett Barr May 24, 2010 at 1:39 pm

You said it right, “provide value to the twittersphere” (or whichever networks you’re focused on). If you’re not providing value, you’re definitely not making the best use of your time.

John Paul Aguiar May 24, 2010 at 5:09 am

I think social media will benefit any business directly and indirectly. I have been approached for 2 big biz opps just because of my twitter activety.

bUT #3 – #4 I do see as a big problem for most people and even for myself on twitter..lol

Social media is a tool, just like you shouldnt answer emails all day you shouldnt be on twitter all day when there are more important money producing things you can be doing with your business.

Corbett Barr May 24, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Hi John! There are definitely huge benefits to be had from using social media for most businesses. The problem is when people perceive social media as the only thing they need to be focusing on. Thanks for the comment.

Parker Lee | howtomingle.com May 24, 2010 at 8:00 am

Hey Corbett,

Good stuff, I think I’m a huge Twitter procrastinator. I started out trying to help my business and ended up doing too much of it, it’s just as bad as facebook if not worse.

Thanks for the affirmations!

–Parker

Corbett Barr May 24, 2010 at 1:41 pm

It’s easy to get sucked in really deep, isn’t it? I think when you see people like Gary Vaynerchuk who spend hours and hours on Twitter, you can start to think it’s the only thing that’s important. However, behind the scenes, Gary was spending another 12+ hours a day creating videos, blog posts and running his business. You can probably afford to spend 4 hours a day on social media if your day is 16 hours long.

Moon Hussain May 24, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Corbett, I’m struggling with #3. I have to make a serious effort to remove that Twitter tab from my browser or else I’ll keep coming back to checking it over and over…

Corbett Barr May 24, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Maybe you’re addicted? I’m the same way sometimes. It can be a real distraction, for sure.

Katherine May 25, 2010 at 3:55 am

You just saved me from myself! I feel like I haven’t been getting anywhere since trying to set up my online creative business 6 months ago and you’ve pretty much summed up why in Point 4. From now on, I’m going to have laser-like focus – one thing at a time.

Thank you!

Corbett Barr May 25, 2010 at 10:30 am

Glad to help, Katherine. Good luck!

Simon May 26, 2010 at 12:53 am

Hi Corbett,

Spot on. I totally agree on the part on which you should define goals and set out a path to reach it a.k.a. your strategy. Too many people confuse their paths with their goals. Being active in (a) social media shouldn’t be your goal; it’s a way to achieve it.

Thanks!

Corbett Barr May 27, 2010 at 9:26 am

Unless “being active in social media” really is your goal ;) Seriously though, it really helps to know why you’re being active in social media. Is it to find job opportunities? Network with potential clients? Spread the word about projects you’re working on? Make new friends? There are plenty of correct answers.

Tola F. May 26, 2010 at 1:22 am

I can definitely relate with what you’ve said Corbett, especially #3 and #4. Social media sites can steal away your time without you even knowing it! I guess that’s one of the important things about time management and setting out tasks for yourself, which you should also follow, not just write up.

In relation to #4, I’m a victim of this, big time! I tried out all those social bookmarking tools which get you to register and blah blah, it was horrible! That was then I realised I’m more of a small group kinda gurl! These days I just stick with Twitter & Facebook. That’s absolutely fine with me, thank you very much! :)

Corbett Barr May 27, 2010 at 10:07 am

Twitter and Facebook seem to be the top choices for most people. I’ve had good results from StumbleUpon as well.

Linda Esposito May 26, 2010 at 9:51 am

Thank you for reinforcing the importance of giving b/4 you get anything in return. I especially like the ease and brevity of Twitter, and find it useful for sending info, links, and not just promoting the latest blog post I wrote.
It’s also kinda quirky, too…which can lead to slacking…guess I need to firm up the social media schedule.

Thanks again!

Corbett Barr May 27, 2010 at 10:09 am

Quirky? I hadn’t thought of it that way. “Give before you get” is useful in so many situations, isn’t it?

Cindy Lavoie May 27, 2010 at 9:07 am

I thought I had a strategy, but your post inspired me to write it down, which of course forced me to be much more explicit. This helps to get me razor focused and avoid doing too much of your #3 and 4 points. Thanks.

Corbett Barr May 27, 2010 at 10:12 am

Hey Cindy, congrats on writing your strategy down. Best of luck with it.

One quick tip for making more from your social media time. Get yourself a “gravatar” (a picture of yourself that will appear when you leave blog comments). Having a photo will make it more likely people will remember you and check out your sites. Just go to gravatar.com and register with the same email address you use when leaving blog comments.

Cindy Lavoie May 27, 2010 at 11:12 am

Excellent – I will! Thanks for the tip.

Corbett Barr May 27, 2010 at 11:41 am

Fantastic, looks great!

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