Engaging with fans is fun and rewarding. It can also be an addictive time suck.
If you check your email, Facebook, and Twitter first thing in the morning, you’re doing it wrong!
Better to start your day creating something worth tweeting about. As a self-confessed productivity junkie, I’ve tried dozens of approaches. This one stuck.
What follows is a step-by-step guide to social media and email management, in the form of a daily routine. It assumes you are on Facebook and Twitter, but can easily be expanded to other networks. All tools mentioned are free unless stated otherwise.
First we need to figure out when to post your content. Because the half-life of a tweet is so short, Twitter requires the most frequent updates. SocialBro determines your best time to tweet by analyzing when your followers are online and when you get the most retweets, with several glorious charts downloadable as a PDF.
The results of this analysis can be exported directly into Buffer, the next weapon in my arsenal. Buffer fires off your tweets on a predetermined schedule, with detailed analytics on each tweet’s performance, including clicks if you connect a bit.ly account. Mine are set for 6:40 AM, 8:40 AM, 10:40 AM, and 12:40 PM PST.
Now we’re ready to begin our daily routine, starting at the end of the work day.
I select four items from my list of status update ideas, and add them to Buffer. If an item is particularly important, I’ll reword it and schedule it twice, non-consecutively.
Facebook allows you to schedule updates from the page itself, with full support for thumbnails and tagging. Enter your update as usual, then click on the clock icon in the lower left corner.
To manage your scheduled updates, scroll to the top and click on “Edit Page” then “Use Activity Log.” It’s clunky, but superior to any third-party tool, for a whole host of reasons that would take another article to explain.
If your personal profile is truly personal, you can skip this. My friends and fans are hopelessly intermingled, so I schedule one update for 7:40 AM.
Since Facebook doesn’t support scheduled updates on personal profiles, I use Post Planner. The free option does the job, but I’m in the middle of a 30-day trial of their $14.95/month service, that posts to pages as your own app:
When you click on “Color Theory” at the bottom of the update, it redirects to colortheory.com. Fancy!
I’ve now got seven updates scheduled hourly from 6:40 AM – 12:40 PM, in order to maximize my exposure to fans following me across multiple networks. While I avoid repetition as much as possible, I reword important updates on different networks on different days. I also swap my Facebook update times between my profle and pages to mix things up.
Now sleep tight, knowing that your wit and wisdom will enrich the world while you hone your craft in focused isolation.
Focus Items & Alarms
I start my day by selecting two or three focus items from my to-do list. If I anticipate an urgent email, I configure ifttt to send me a text message when an incoming email matches my search criteria. All push notifications are disabled, on both my computer and phone.
I perform two daily social media and email checks, at a half hour before lunch and an hour before the end of my work day.
The rest of the day is dedicated to project work, like making music!
Social Media Checks
FanMix pulls all my Facebook and Twitter conversations into one clean inbox:
The key word here is conversations. If nobody responds to one of my updates, it won’t appear. If someone replies to Aunt Judy’s status update about brownies, which I commented on last week, it will. It handles both public and private conversations – in short: everything you need to see (and nothing you don’t).
There’s no need to visit Facebook or Twitter, so don’t do it!
I know what you’re thinking: “You selfish egomaniac! You’re not willing to devote one minute of your precious time to others’ thoughts and concerns.” Not true! I schedule time to do just that (Friday afternoons are perfect).
By separating fan engagement from socialization and general time-wasting, I participate in social media on my own terms.
I review my inbox starting with the oldest email, following these rules:
- If an email requires an immediate response or can be completed in under 2 minutes, do it now.
- If it can wait until a later date, use Boomerang to return it to my inbox at a time of my choosing.
After working through the most recent email, I label and archive everything left as “reviewed.” Inbox zero! Any remaining time before lunch/end of the day is spent replying to “reviewed” emails.
Two social media and email checks per day, plus scheduled updates.
Unless you get way more email than I do (and I get a lot), it shouldn’t take more than an hour and a half total. If you get too far behind, you can always devote an extra hour on Friday afternoon to catching up.
I challenge you to go all-in for one week. You’ll be amazed by how much you accomplish, and how clear your head is without a steady stream of interruptions. You don’t have to use every tool mentioned in this article, but at the very least, commit yourself to two checks a day.
There’s so much more I could write, but I don’t want to bog down an article on productivity with clarifications and exceptions. That’s what the comments are for, so let me know what you think!
Custom drawing by Ben Landis, starring Matt of the chiptune album+comic Adventures in Pixels.