The longer I work in social media, the more I realize that the biggest danger for a social media marketer isn’t proving ROI, anticipating Facebook algorithm changes or even dealing with Twitter trolls — it’s the dreaded Social Media Timesuck.
You’re probably familiar with it. It’s what happens when you go to Facebook just to post a link to that latest blog entry but somehow end up staying for an extra 30 minutes and opening 7 new tabs. Or you fall down a Pinterest wormhole, can’t stop checking in on a great Google+ discussion, or randomly decide to update your LinkedIn profile — all while you’re supposed to be doing something else.
If you’re doing it right, social media does take time — but that time is better spent building real relationships with people who are important to you and creating great new content than mindlessly flitting through Twitter for the 12th time.
What’s more, even social media marketers deserve to have a life beyond social media. Being more efficient with our marketing time clears head space for us to get re-inspired and develop the kind of curiosity about the world that leads to more and better ideas — the kind that can only come from life beyond the screen.
With that in mind, here are 20 tools I use to keep the Social Media Timesuck at bay. Maybe they’ll help you do the same!
Finding Great Content
Finding and curating great content to share on social media is no easy task. Here’s some help.
Offering specific, unique and well-curated headlines for nearly any industry, SmartBrief is a free, efficient way to keep up with important news in one spot.
Percolate combs through your Twitter contacts and subscribed blogs to unearth a special blend of top links and send them straight to your inbox every day.
Subscribe via RSS to get updates from news sources, thought leaders or even competitors. A feed reader like Feedly will keep them all organized on one place. Just remember to be picky about your sources — otherwise you’ll be overwhelmed quickly.
4. Who Shared My Link
Muckrack, the company that connects journalists and marketers, offers this simple tool and bookmarklet. Put in a URL to see how many shares the content got. If it’s a news site, you’ll often also get information about the journalist who wrote it.
Keeping Up With Ideas
A great idea can come when you least expect it — which is why it pays to have an efficient system in place to capture everything.
Keep up with stats, studies and other information that might be useful later by saving links in a bookmarking app like Pocket or Pinboard. Tag everything aggressively (so it’s easy to find when you need it).
Want to highlight a particular quote or passage from something you’ve read and keep it for later? Findings is my go-to spot to house quotes.
Shutting Out The Noise
Making sure you’ve got the highest possible signal to noise ratio is often a huge social media challenge. Luckily, most social media tools offer a built-in solution.
7. Facebook Interest Lists
We all like to kvetch about Facebook not showing us the posts we’d most like to see. The underused Interest List function solves this problem and then some. Create your own list (public or private) or subscribe to others’ lists focusing on all kinds of topics.
8. Twitter Lists
Similarly, Twitter lists — especially private ones — can be hugely helpful in making sure you hear from the people you value most without alienating the rest of your audience.
Working in marketing can lead to a very full inbox — it’s easy to subscribe by email to lots of blogs and services. When the inbox begins to overwhelm, Unroll.me can help. This service quickly unsubscribes you from what you don’t want and rolls the rest into an easy-to-browse digest.
Posting & Scheduling
It’s the biggest question in social media: what’s the best time to post? These tools can help you find the answer — and then make posting simpler.
Post to Twitter at the best times for your audience with Tweriod, which analyzes your Twitter account to give you insights per day, week or even hour.
11. Facebook Insights
Looking for the best time to post to Facebook? Don’t let studies or infographics decide your strategy — your own Facebook Insights has the answer. Check to see when the biggest portion of your audience is online and go from there.
Streamline your social media posting with Buffer (my employer), which queues your updates on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn at regular intervals or specific times you choose.
13. Editorial Calendar
Dealing with multiple pieces of content, many different networks and timing/time zone issues can be a big headache. A simple spreadsheet can save your sanity and keep everyone on the same page.
Monitoring Your Brand
A new social network pops up every day, and it’s important to make sure your brand name is protected everywhere. Enter KnowEm — set your brand up here, and it’ll check for your username of choice instantly on 550+ popular and emerging social media websites.
On Topsy, you can search for a keyword or phrase to see who’s been talking about it over the past hour, week, month or more. See specific languages or types of posts, or sign up for email alerts for your keyword. (Topsy Pro users get even more insights.)
Guarding Your Time
Even social media managers can’t spend all day on social networks. Keeping your social media activities to a certain, fixed amount of time per day can help keep you focused.
Sometimes a simple solution is all you need to give yourself a little push. FocusBooster is an unobtrusive timer that counts down from 25 minutes (or the time period of your choice) to help you work in focused bursts.
We marketers love our analytics, so why not get a little insight on your own productivity? RescueTime gives you just that with a dashboard that shows you how you use your time.
The most drastic solution time-guarding solution, StayFocusd is a Chrome extension that allows you to set maximum time limits for your specific timesuck sites. Once you’re out of time, that’s it for the day.
At the end of a reporting period, wouldn’t it be useful to see a list of all the content you’ve promoted on social media along with how many shares it got from each of the big social networks? That’s what you get with SharedCount. Enter your links, export to CSV and get a great look at what’s working — and what isn’t — with your strategy.
20. Google Analytics Custom Dashboard
Google Analytics provides so much great information to marketers, but if your focus is on social media, you may only need a small fragment of what it can offer. That’s where custom dashboards come in — they offer the ability to select just the metrics you need and nothing more. Here’s a great start for a social media-focused dashboard.
What tools help keep you focused and productive? Share them with me in the comments.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.