I love a good quote.
And I’ve included a few in previous posts where I’ve felt they were particularly relevant to the subject matter.
So, ahead of writing this I performed a little search, looking for something meaty on time management. Sure, there were plenty. But they all spoke of seizing the day; don't procrastinate; 'do it now, dammit!', etc.
You see, what I was looking for was something more akin to the value of not rushing things just to get them done.
Take social media marketing, for example (you knew I was going there, didn't you?).
I've seen a number of articles that talk about how to successfully condense your daily social media activities into an hour, while still reaping the rewards of a strong social presence, generating leads, driving traffic, and so on.
Now, if that all sounds to good to be true it's because it is.
Yes, you can spend an hour-a-day on your social media channels. But by the same token you can also spend 5-and-a-half minutes each day posting a couple of tweets.
Either way, the results are going to be shit.
What I'm getting at here is that you get out of it what you put in. And it takes effort. It shouldn't be rushed in order just to tick a box.
"Well, that's social media done for the day, and it only took seven minutes. Pub?"
These days there are a number of tools designed to streamline the often-laborious process of curating and scheduling content.
But even with a constant churn of auto-recycled and evergreen posts you really shouldn't be sharing content talking to a 2016 audience in 2017, because:
a) it's out of date (obviously).
b) your followers will quickly cotton on that you're just automating posts and not making any effort to actually build connections.
c) far too many accounts are doing that and it's starting to show.
d) you don't want to be doing any of the above.
I do, however, firmly believe in social media scheduling.
I've tested a number of tools to find the one that works best for me, so I know that even when I can't be at my desk and online (yes, even I need the occasional toilet break. I'm not a machine. Yet.) a crucial piece of content will go out on time to the right channel(s), loving prepared and looking fantastic.
But to even get to that stage where you're ready to schedule you need to put in the work.
Finding new content, articles, news, re-purposing your own content, creating images, responding to comments, thanking people for sharing your posts, conversing with your audience, running webinars, listening to webinars, reporting to stakeholders....
If you're a social media marketer you'll know that we do this and more on a daily basis. And, I'm sorry, it can't be done in an hour.
It just can't.
That's not a whine. It's just a statement of fact, if you're any good at your job and want to do it to the best of your ability.
But anyway, none of this is probably news to you.
Here's a day generally pans out for me:
7am - Check all channels for overnight engagement, respond where necessary (15 mins)
8.45am - Arrive at the office, check emails (including relevant Google alerts, load social channels, check again for new engagement, open scheduling tool, open monitoring tool. Get coffee.
9.15am - Head to a meeting. Check phone several times to ensure pre-scheduled content is going out / no major issues are occurring. Apologise profusely for checking phone. Miss question directed at me. Look embarrassed.
10am - Scan a huge list of RSS feeds to discover new relevant content and begin the huge task of sheduling, ensuring links work, images look good and original writer is credited Tip: *when posting to Twitter, always try to include author's Twitter handle.
11am - More coffee. Check on progress of paid promotions and optimise accordingly. Scan social pages for posts to Retweet or share. Make a few comments to increase interaction (often spending a several minutes wrestling with the perfect phrase - though this is probably just a challenge for me).
12pm - Prepare a series of posts for colleagues to share and ensure that they're all comfortable with the plan and fully understand the social media policy. Eat lunch at desk while scheduling future content from social media calendar. Update calendar with a number of forthcoming events and potential post opportunities.
1pm - Wrestle with thoughts of third cup of coffee (deny myself on this occasion) and head to a planning session. Check phone repeatedly for engagement and make mental note to forward a link to an interesting article to rest of team.
2pm - Get a solid hour of image creation in for forthcoming campaign, including writing a number of tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn posts.
3pm - Prepare slides for tomorrow's end-of-month meeting with results of recent promotions and general social media update.
4pm - Check for latest engagement. Notice a spike on a particular post and double-check to ensure post will be recycled. Inform digital marketing colleague of engagement rise. Make decision to consider post for possible future ebook if high engagement of future posts continues
5pm - Leave office. Get home and immediately check phone. Log-in and run quick diagnostics on current online activity.
6-11pm - Check phone continuously (lose interest in film I'm watching) and keep an eye on social channels for engagement. Start to plan a new blog post. Consider bed.
Ok, so not every day is quite this full. It fluctuates, but the one constant is the need to ensure consistent scheduling of content and monitoring of online activities; something I do the moment I wake until the moment I can no longer keep my eyes open. Hey, sometimes I'll even watch an entire movie.
Yes, there'll be days where there are no meetings, and some of the other inconveniences don't occur, but the fact is, regardless of goings on offline, social media never sleeps.
By all means, spend an hour a day on it - something I totally understand if you're a small business and simply don't have the resources - but if you want it to be a core part of your marketing, you need to start thinking about it less as a task and more as a bona fide role.
So, is there any way around it? Do you really need to spend all day, every day working on social media (hustling, as the cool kids are want to say)?
Every fibre of me wants to say, "Yes!" but it's just not realistic for everyone or every business.
With that in mind, here are my 6 top tips to help you condense tasks and hopefully take back as much of your valuable time as possible:
Get a scheduling tool. My favourite is SmarterQueue, but this comes at a monthly cost, so start with something like Buffer. It's free to schedule up to 10 posts at once, which ensures a constant stream of posts live on your social channels.
Pin it. Take the post that you want to show off most. The one that will be most useful to your audience, the one that really sings, and pin it to the top of your Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn page. This way anyone who discovers you will see this amazing post front an centre.
Google Alerts. Set up a series of alerts based on specific and relevant keywords and you'll have a daily slew of new articles to share. Take an hour to get it running and you can have brand new content daily arrive in your inbox.
Notifications. Get these set up on your social pages to alert you to new activity happening on your accounts, from comments, to Likes to mentions.
Free tools. Periodically seek out the latest free tools with a quick Google search. If time and budget are a challenge, there's always a new list of helpful tools available. Here's one and here's another.
Content calendar. I wrestled with using one of these for ages as I like to be more agile (and contrary). However, a calendar is essential for planning the course of your social media efforts across the year. It's the perfect reference for ensuring you and your team know where you're heading from a strategic standpoint. Sit down at the beginning of each year and chart out a direction and you won't go far wrong. Here's a great free resource from Hubspot
Clearly, you'll still have a great deal of work to do to reach the stage where your social media tasks are streamlined and manageable while earning the required results (a tougher proposition but one that a well-defined strategy can help with).
Finally then, back to my earlier point: You get out what you put in. And it takes effort.
Oh, and I did find a quote.
“What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.” ― Samuel Johnson