Social media can be an invaluable part of your business’ online marketing strategy. But one of the biggest issues that comes along with social media are the distractions – those things that take your focus off of your social media goals. These distractions can lead to losing minutes, even hours out of your productivity time. The following are common distractions you may come across on the top social networks and ways to combat them.
The Biggest Common Distraction with Most Networks
Probably one of the biggest distractions that can catch you on any social network is links.
Whether you’re on Twitter, HootSuite managing your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, or almost any other network, you will be presented with your connections latest updates, many of which include links to blogs, videos, podcasts, or other media. These things, while sometimes educational, can become a huge distraction when you find yourself wandering from blog posts to YouTube and then back again.
So how do you manage not becoming consumed by the links your connections share? One of the reasons we want to go to those links when we see them is because we feel like we will forget about them later and not find them again. So the solution is simply bookmarking them until later.
Instapaper is a great solution for this. You simply sign up for an account and put a little bookmarklet on your browser that says Read Later. Then, whenever you click on one of those links from your connections, you can click on that Read Later bookmarklet and it will be quickly saved to your Instapaper account for future reading.
This way you don’t lose the productivity time now and you don’t lose the chance to read that great article or view that funny video either!
While some distractions are pretty common across all networks, some social media sites contain their own build-in time wasters. Facebook is a top network for businesses, but also the top network for distractions. There are many ways a simple login to respond to messages on your page can turn into hours spent elsewhere on the site. Some common activities that eat up your time include the following.
Chances are, when you log in to manage your business’ page, you will be logging into your personal account. Here, you are connected to your friends, family, and the all-too-fun Find Friends search.
It’s easy to get distracted by your friend’s newest photo albums or seeing which members of your graduating class have finally signed up. You want to start checking out the people in your friends requests, and before you know it, you find yourself cooing over someone’s newborn or gawking at their new truck instead of managing your business’ reputation.
This is a bit hard to turn off as you’ll come across profiles all throughout the Facebook system. Just try to limit yourself from doing this kind of perusing until after business hours to help you stay on the path to getting your work done.
Games & Applications
Next are all the various games and application invites. Herding sheep, voting for your hottest friend, and trying out that new “professional” application will take time, much more than you realize. These are probably the hugest time sucks when it comes to trying to conduct business on the Facebook platform. Hence I choose to ignore all invites, and when I have some downtime, I go through all the invites and block the specific apps they came from.
This will keep you from falling into the temptation of signing onto one of these games or apps and having your time just eaten away, one farm animal or photo vote at a time.
I don’t know about you, but when a chat message appears from Skype or Yahoo messenger, I find it a bit distracting if I’m in the middle of writing an article or getting other work done. So imagine my surprise when, along with all the other distractions on Facebook, a chat window popped up. Then another, and then another.
I would suggest, during working hours, that you utilize the settings by clicking on the settings wheel icon at the bottom right. You can set yourself to unavailable, or if you must use the chat, organize your friends in lists and use the Only make me available to option to those particular lists instead of your entire Facebook friends. Your productivity will thank you for it!
Getting Past All the Facebook Distractions
Want a full proof way to conquer all of these distractions? Whenever you sign into Facebook, go directly to your Facebook page. To have fast access to your top pages, save them under your Favorites menu in the sidebar by going to your Pages, click on the pencil icon, and then Add to Favorites.
When you get to your page, use the option to Use Facebook as Your Page which can be found in the top right sidebar of your page.
At this stage, all of your notifications will be purely for your page. You won’t have your personal profile’s connections or news feed to distract you, and you certain can’t play games as your page. Now your focus will be 100% on the task at hand!
If your work is more on the personal profile side, create friends lists for the people you need to keep in contact with and add those lists to your Favorites menu as shown earlier. Adding friends to lists is as simple as going to their profile and hovering over the Friends button. Then select the list you would like to add them to or create a new list.
This way you can go straight to the streams for those people and bypass all of your casual acquaintances’ messages that might lead you to no good. You could also go in and create a friend’s list specifically for people you want to chat with only for the earlier mentioned limit chat availability setting.
Time Saving Productivity Tools
If you absolutely can’t control yourself on a social network, there are more ways to block your usage. For example, if you find you can’t stop watching cute kitten videos, you can use plugins like LeechBlock for Firefox. This will allow you to specify websites to block you from viewing during certain hours of the day.
MinutesPlease.com is a website that allows you to open a website and specify a time limit for it. You can even use the bookmarklet from the homepage – drag it to your bookmarks bar, and when you’re on a site that you only want to spend ten minutes on, just click the bookmarklet on your browser. It will give you a popup warning that you have only a minute left.
Another tool for Chrome users is the StayFocused extension. This will allow you to set a specific amount of time per website, and once you’ve used that allotted time, the website will be inaccessible for the rest of the day. You can even get it to just block certain types of in-page content such as videos, games, and so forth.
If you’re ultimately not sure what website is taking up the most of your time, then you will want to check out Time Tracker for Chrome or Page Addict for Firefox. These plugins will simply track your time on websites so you can find out which ones are taking up the most of your productivity time.
Now it’s your turn. What are the most common distractions you come across when using social media for your business, and how do you overcome them?
About the Author: Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, blogger, and social media enthusiast. Her blog Kikolani focuses on blog marketing, including social networking strategies and blogging tips.