Curing the Social Media Disease

I spent days online searching for a 12-step program that could help me. And I loved every second of it. Yes, I was a social media addict—powerless to control the time I spent online.

It started innocently enough. I knew social media was a good business strategy. After all, it can help you gain visibility, stay connected to customers, establish a leadership position, and stop complaints before they damage your reputation.

What wasn’t clear was how to control social media before it became an addiction. Minutes became hours as I wove my way through fascinating side roads of information and clever YouTube videos. New contacts enriched feelings of connectedness in the cyber community. Knowing more about social media marketing than my competitors sated my competitive spirit.

But, like other addictions, the heady high could not be sustained. I soon realized that I needed to balance a long-term approach to social media with actual results that could be measured. Eventually I was able to take back control over my social media life thanks to some good old-fashioned, pre-cyber principles of time management.

Whether the goal is to research, network, or marketing, each is best achieved through discipline. Keep a log for a few weeks. Determine how much time you are spending online to achieve your goals. Can you shave time off your record? Sure you can, once you force the distractions to stop distracting you.

When it comes to reading or writing blogs, using Twitter, or posting on Facebook, try scheduling the activities. And avoid the big time-wasters, like quizzes and surveys, unless you are retired and sitting by the pool at some WiFi-enabled location. There are no rules that say you must respond to every contact, so set boundaries for responding to Instant Messages, tweets or Facebook comments.

Not enough time each day to fit in everything? Either delegate or decide what must be done today and what can be done on a bi-weekly, weekly, or monthly basis. Make social media as much of a routine as possible and use the tools that are available to help track sites, news, and postings. Remember, social media can be a powerful tonic for your business. Use it, but don’t abuse it.