As an independent social media consultant (yay!), I have to watch my time carefully. Twitter is an essential part of evolving my personal brand (see Ten steps to evolving your personal brand), but no one is paying me to do it. I have plenty of billable work in the pipeline, so that takes priority.
But with Twitter there’s no let up. That’s my strategy: provide consistent content that provides value to my Twitter followers. It’s hard to judge what the balance is. Right now, I spend about one to two hours per day feeding the Twitter monster. (Cute little bird? Not! Anyway, it’s Halloween season.:)) I could spend more or less, and provide more or less value. That’s a judgment you have to make. But there are ways to useyour time more efficiently. Here are five tips to help you manage your time
1. Use Hootsuite — Hootsuite is a great help to managing your time. I can streamline my tweets, schedule them, retweet at the click of a mouse and more. (See my recent series: Ten steps to becoming a Twitter power user with Hootsuite).
2. Aggregate your information sources — You can aggregate your information sources using RSS feeds. Much of my leg work is reviewing my RSS feeds and Twitter home feed for news (about an hour). I use iGoogle to streamline managing the flood of information. You can create tabs for each subject matter, and then add RSS feeds to specific tabs. It’s also a great way to make sure you track tweets of the most relevant people you are following.
3. Schedule your tweets ahead of time — Hootsuite again! Other apps let you schedule tweets, but Hootsuite is browser based, and does everything (almost) you need in one place. Every day I post eight to 10 tweets, scheduling them for regular intervals during the day. This takes me about a half hour total. It would take twice as long if I did it in real time, having to go back to Twitter, login, and post the Tweet every time. You can offer great value by Tweeting way ahead of time for a special occasion. I have posted Halloween-related tweets for every hour from 7:00 am on October 30, using the hashtag #twickortweet.
4. Embed feeds in your blog or website — Do you have to retweet every time someone mentions a topic of interest? For some topics that wouldn’t be practical in any case. One solution is to embed feeds in your website and instead to remind users they can go there for up to date information. You are saving them configuring the feed themselves and driving traffic to your site. WordPress has a great little plugin that will embed any feed. Search in Twitter for your keyword, pull the feed URL and paste the URL into your page. (The instructions are in the plugin documentation.) There are other ways to do this if you’re not running WordPress. (Here’s a post to get you started embedding RSS feeds.)
5. Systematize your process — Some of my Twitter use is to inform followers of a blog post such as this one. So I have a system that minimizes the time spent (and avoids spamming followers). I post it once to Twitter, then to appropriate groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. I might spend a half hour writing the post, with another 15 minutes or so on posting the link to the various social channels. (sometimes to another blog if it has a relevant article).
So that time adds up! When you are off the steady wage gravy train (woo hoo!), it takes some balancing. But I am managing quite well so far. How about you? Do you have trouble managing your time on Twitter? Is it part of your job? What tips or processes do you have to help you manage your time feeding the Twitter monster?