Although your friends might think you spend your day liking things on Facebook and crafting the latest Game of Thrones meme, we know there’s a lot more to your day. In fact, staying on top of content and social media management can be tricky. It’s easy to get sucked in, resurfacing only after reading hundreds of headlines, tens of articles, and watching a few unrelated videos to find that hours of your day have disappeared.

So how can you avoid this?

Develop a plan and lay it out in a strict (ish) daily schedule. Your schedule should contain dedicated start and finish times for each of the three main components in your social media process: sourcing content, publishing content, and starting conversations with others.

Sourcing Content

This can be one of the biggest time sinks. The task of sifting through the entire internet and finding content that is both relevant to your business and of interest to your followers is not easy. That’s why developing a structured process is important.

First things first, set up a one-stop-shop for sourcing your content. More likely than not, this will be an RSS Reader – at least to start (if you don’t have one already, try Feedly).  Set up the reader with sites that you already source from and then try searching for common topics like “social media” or “Facebook marketing” to find new sites to add to your feed. Try and incorporate both blogs and news sources to help keep your content fresh.

Once you’ve set this up, you’ll need to determine the process you’ll use for content sourcing on a daily basis. Determine what time of day you want to source your content and what time limit you’ll give yourself. I’d recommend first thing in the morning and 30-40 minutes (remember, you’ll have to read the articles that interest you, not just their headlines!). This time limit will vary depending on how much content you plan on publishing.

You’ll want to make sure you have a constant flow of content throughout the week, and since grouping similar activities together can save you time, you may want to source all your content from blogs for the week at one time. This content should be stickier – the kind that if published on Monday, and I see it on your Facebook page on Friday, it’s still relevant. But also realize that you don’t want to consistently be behind the times, so add in a way to incorporate relevant news items throughout the week.

Of course, this applies to sharing external content only. The process of developing your own content is a totally different ball game.

Publishing Content

Once you’ve determined what content you’d like to share, it’s time to publish it (or schedule for future publishing). Most likely, you’ll publish your content right after sourcing it. And since it doesn’t take very long, this will probably fall into the same bucket as content sourcing. Remember, grouping similar activities together saves time, so if you can schedule your posts out ahead of time during one chunk of time in the morning, that will be more efficient than doing it multiple times throughout the day.

Starting Conversations with Others

If you expect others to engage with you, it’s reasonable for you to engage others, and it’s unreasonable to think that if you create a page and post great content, the flood gates will open and you’ll be overwhelmed by the positive response. Sorry for this dose of reality, but the internet, social media, and marketing worlds are all crowded. It’s just not that easy. You should build an outreach strategy into your daily routine. This might start with influencers in your industry, move to target consumers, and also include current customers. Keep a list of people in these groups and check what they’ve been posting and discussing each day. When you find something particularly relevant or interesting (to which you might have something meaningful to say in return, and not an attempted ego boosting “I agree”), respond, comment, and engage them in conversation.

Here’s an example of what your daily social media process might look like:

Social Media Process

Stick to the schedule. Yes, sometimes it can become a pain and sometimes it will interrupt the work you’re currently doing, but including time limits for each task will help you to get back to your work. And if you wait until you have a break in your work, social media may fall to the back burner each and every day.

Before I finish off, I know what you’re thinking. I forgot one item: responding to posts, comments, and messages. Unfortunately for all of us seeking a more productive work day, this is one thing that I don’t think can (or should) be scheduled. In a research study conducted by Edison Research, respondents were asked how soon they expect a response from a brand they’ve contacted. The results were a little scary … 67% said within the same day, 42% said within 60 minutes, and 32% within 30 minutes. So it seems that you’ll have to set some disrupting alerts and be on the lookout for these ones.

So what do you think – does this seem feasible? Have you found other ways to make the most of your day on social media?

Photo Credit: familymwr via photopin cc