Unfortunately, my social media activities kinda dropped off while I was off-grid Is that a good thing? I didn't think so. But, some friends who are rooted in the tangible world say yes. "You're getting a project done," "You're doing something real," they say. "And, besides, you spend too much time as it is doing 'that stuff.'"
That got me thinking. How much time should it take? What's the proper amount of time to invest in social media?
Ironically, I've actually felt that I don't do enough. Even as I champion to my friends the need to budget time investments in social media, I admittedly, tend to go in fits and starts myself.
Over the course of a waking 16- or 18-hour day, my total RSS-ing, blogging, twittering, facebooking, linking-in activities might average about an hour or two. On others it can spike to 3 or 4. (Oh, on those days you should see "the look" from my wife when we settle into the couch for the evening news. She with her book in hand, me with my laptop.)
Beth Kanter, someone who I follow and respect greatly for her work in using social media for humanitarian purposes, tackled just that question recently. Her article "How Much Time Does It Take To Do Social Media" is a good read. For me, it validates what I've suspected, at one or two hours a day, I'm likely not budgeting enough time for my social media efforts. (So there, wife. Nyah, nyah, nyah...)
But, on another point, it's not all about the absolute value of hours invested. It's also about efficiency and getting the routine of the workflow down pat. To paraphrase how another web strategist puts it: Time is like money. It's limited in quantity and you have to budget time for it. And, just like the financial advisors put it, you have got to get into a routine of paying yourself first on a daily basis.
I've included some of the high points from Beth's article below. One caveat, don't fall into the trap of reacting to the total hours and then declaring these activities unrealistic. I don't interpret these as being additive. Many of the activities below overlap.
Listening. This involves investing in activities to keep up with what's being said aboutyour organization and/or the field you work in. Tools to help: Google Alerts, Technorati, Twitter, RSS readers. Key: pattern analysis. (5 hours per week.)
Participate. You gotta do it; you have to interact. By making a human connection online, you influence their perception of your brand and help them find meaningful ways to support your mission. Tools to help: Twitter, Go-comment, other bloggers and blogs. (10 hours per week.)
Generate Buzz. This activity is about raising your organization's profile and spreading awareness of your programs and campaigns. Tools to help: FriendFeed, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Digg... (10-15 hours per week.)
Share Your Story. Share the impact of your programs. Tools to help: Blogging, podcasting, photo sharing (e.g., Flickr, YouTube, Picassa, and others...) (15-20 hours per week.)
Community Building and Social Networking. Build relationships online, nurture a community, engage and inspire others to action. Tools to help: Ning, LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace... (20+ hours per week.)
What're my takeaways?
- About 18-22 hours a week (as compared to waking hours available) seems reasonable for my objectives across all the activities combined.
- And, additional key ingredients are efficiency, efficiency, and consistency.
What do you think? Am I over-estimating? How many hours do you budget and are you getting the desired results for your budget?
If you liked this article or any of the other articles on this site, click here to subscribe through your favorite RSS reader. Don't know that that is? No worries, subscribe via e-mail in the sidebar and we'll send you an e-mail update every time a new article is posted. (We respect your privacy and will not sell, trade or otherwise abuse your e-mail.) If you have a free Twitter account, you can follow me on Twitter (@melaclaro)