Social Media Addiction

I’ve run into several people over the last few weeks who are taking breaks form some of all of their social media networks because of input overload.

It starts simply. Following a few links you found on Twitter then the blogs you’re reading have really great links and the sites at the end of those links have really cool videos and then you get lost in you-tube for an hour wandering down a trail of videos that quickly change from being fact filled and data laden to silly and funny and completely worthless but now your brain is so fried you just don’t care.

That’s usually when your boss or a client calls and you cannot form a complete sentence in response to their vitally important question. No amount of explaining will get you out of the hole you’re in, so you blame it on sleep deprivation (without telling them you were posting videos on Seesmic all night) and promise to be bright eyed and bushy tailed at the meeting in an hour. That’s the one with the proposal you were supposed to be writing while you were watching pointless but beautifully filmed Vimeo videos or playing Spymaster.

I’m pretty sure this has happened at least once to every social media contact I have. I refuse to disclose how many times it’s happened to me.

There is a way to survive this phenomenon and gain back at least a smidgeon of your productivity. It’s called scheduling. There is no earthly reason you have to have Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader and FriendFeed open 24/7. Missing a post by an hour or two or even (gasp) 6 will not destroy your business. (Unless you’re doing customer support on these networks).

Set up a schedule you can live with. Stick to it and you’ll suddenly have lots of free time in your workday for those mundane but necessary tasks.

For example:

  • Check your Twitter stream 3-4 times a day. In the morning, coffee break, lunch and at the end of your WORK day.
  • The rest of the day rely on notifications and alerts to let you know when you need to respond to someone.
  • Figure out the times the people you want to engage with are usually online and let that guide when you log on.
  • Set up reminders to ping you when you get a direct message (who reads these?) or a reply on Twitter.
  • Set up listening tools to alert you of mentions of you or your brand.
  • Create an email address that lands all of your notifications in one e-mail box and then check it every couple of hours. Rome will not burn if a comment doesn’t get responded to in a couple of hours.
  • Missed a post and you think it’s too late to respond? Try email. You can make your response longer and richer. You might even try the telephone.

Now, I’m not saying this will work for everybody, but give it a try and see how to customize it to work for you. You might be surprised to see you can be connected and productive at the same time.

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