If you’re anything like the average freelancer or small-business owner, you likely obsess over the amount of time you should spend on social media. On one hand, there are experts telling you to unplug regularly in order to keep your sanity. On the other hand, there are experts telling you to plan your posts, make them catchy, promote the hell out of everything you do, and essentially create your own brand single-handedly via constant and unrelenting engagement.
So who’s right? Is it more important to plug in or plug out? Can you in fact be a small-business owner or freelancer and spend any time at all off of social media?
Well, here’s the good news: Los Angeles-based social media coach and trainer Natalie Gouché says that you do not have to die on the sword of social media in order to have a prayer of ever becoming successful.
“There is that common misconception that you have to be on social media all the time,” she says. “But if that’s the case, when and how am I supposed to run my business?”
Exactly. The exact number of minutes or hours you spend on soshe meeds “just depends on how much time you have,” says Gouché, “but most people don’t have a lot of time.”
With that said, we are here to tell you that you can be highly effective on social media in as little as — wait for it! — three hours a week, if you’re efficient. How, you’re wondering? Here are some tips:
Limit Yourself to Posting Once a Day
Yup, you read that right. Not 20 times a day, not even five times a day: once a day.
Once you’ve figured out which social media platform you are going to focus your energy on, Gouché says that posting once a day on your preferred medium is “more than enough.”
“Let’s say I use Instagram and Facebook, but I have the most engagement on Facebook,” she says. “That’s where I post every day.”
Will You Schedule Your Posts, or Will You Write Posts Daily?
There are some questions you can only answer for yourself, young Jedi, and this is one of them. You can either schedule your posts in advance, or you can take out time each day to write and post them. The choice is up to you, and it depends largely on how much time you spend — or want to spend — in front of a computer.
“Let’s say someone is really busy and they are out in the field and not in front of a computer often,” says Gouché. “This person is going to schedule most of their stuff.”
That might mean taking 45 minutes on a Sunday evening to plan your content, or on a Friday evening when the rest of your work is done. If you have the time and the inkling to write posts daily, though, Gouché suggests that you not spend more than 10 to 20 minutes on each post, with perhaps a few extra moments spent making sure you respond to any questions or comments left by your followers. “It really doesn’t need to be more time than that,” Gouché says, “and that could amount to only about, say, three hours a week.”
Either way, the important thing to remember is to block out the time for it. That way, you don’t have “POST ON SOCIAL MEDIA” hanging over your head or dominating your to-do list, because you know when and how it’s going to get done. You also know that you will be in and out by however much time you’ve allotted on your calendar (right?!?).
Get into a Posting Routine
And by this we mean post the same type of content on the same days of the week. This takes the frantic guesswork out of what you’re going to post every day, and it also puts you in a rhythm that your followers can get into. “I am a big fan of consistency,” says Gouché.
So for instance, she continues, “If every Monday you are going to post a motivational quote, every Tuesday you are going to post feedback, and Wednesday you are going to promote a blog post, now you’re not racking your brain about, ‘What am I supposed to post?’”
Doesn’t that sound like a load off?
No matter what, the important thing to bear in mind is that social media should not be dominating your time or your energy. It’s an important marketing tool, yes, but it’s not your bread and butter and it’s not the most important thing about your business.
“Certainly you can have fun with it and you can enjoy it, but at the end of the day, if you are a freelancer you are on social media so you can get business,” says Gouché. “It has to be intentional.”