Everywhere you turn these days there’s another tool to make running your business on social media easier. It often seems there are as many “useful” social media tools as there are social media platforms. Whether it’s a time tracker, scheduler, content finder, listener, or promotional tool, it’s easy to be overwhelmed, not only by all the social media platforms, but also by all the tools that are supposed to make them easier to use.
I’ve had a presence on social media for well over a decade now. Since I first wrote this post several years ago, some of my most used platforms have disappeared, with others popping up to take their place. Over the years I’ve learned to be more judicious about which platforms I should be active on—and how I should use them.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned about using social media, though, hasn’t changed since the beginning. Now matter which platforms you’re using, and how you’re using them, they still have one thing in common: time.
You must schedule time to post and to read on all these platforms. Whether you are reading directly on the app or through a scheduler like Hootsuite (my fave).
Hootsuite is probably my most useful social media app. I love being able to go in a couple of times a day, see what’s going on with my lists at a glance and see direct messages and mentions. I also love being able to use it to schedule tweets in advance, especially if I have a day away from the computer or I’m going out of town (oh, wait—you didn’t hear me say that).
I’ve used Buffer, SocialOomph, PostPlanner, Latergram, EClincher, Triberr, and a number of other apps over the years to track, schedule and try to maximize my social media effectiveness and minimize the amount of time I spent making it work.
I even added Revive Old Posts is just one of the niftiest WordPress plug-ins ever. It means that my little pearls of wisdom can be easily re-shared with the world and not lost to the depths of my blog archives.
My Most Useful Tool
But the very best and most useful Social Media tool I own, isn’t any of these apps. It isn’t even an app at all. It’s the timer on my desk. Social Media can be a real time suck (notice I didn’t say “waster.” Nah, I never waste time at the computer—it just gets sucked away). In order to avoid losing my precious work time, I’ve learned to schedule specific blocks of time for social media. Whether I’m reading and posting or reading up on the latest social media news and tips, my little timer keeps me from letting too much time go by and missing other deadlines or eating into other parts of my day.
Timers are cheap. There’s one on every smartphone; there’s probably one built into your computer somewhere. You can even get a free one from Google apps. But I really like the simple little countdown timer that sits on my desk. It never lies and it doesn’t let me cheat. And it has an incredibly annoying beep that I can’t miss no matter what I’ve got running on my computer.
If you feel like social media is taking up too much of your day, try setting a time limit and use a timer to let you know when that time is up. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can get done when you know your time is limited—and you’ll be able to get the rest of your work done as well.
So, tell me: what is your most useful social media tool or tip? Is there something you’ve found that makes social media management easier for you? Is there an app that’s made you more effective or efficient in the social media world? I always love knowing about the next best thing and ways to work smarter. Leave me your thoughts in the comments below.
This post was originally published in 2011, and updated in 2020.