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6 Ways to Waste Your Time on Social Media

Social Media Marketing is a helpful tool, but you have to be careful not to waste time on unnecessary and even harmful actions in your quest to make the most of this new tool. Here are six big time-wasters to be aware of:

Subscribing to too many Blogs. I highly recommend that you subscribe to relevant blogs for your industry, but be picky, be realistic, and set an egg timer. The point is that you cannot be everywhere, you just can't. So choose your feeds wisely. Following blogs won't do you any good if you don't have time to read, understand, and respond when necessary. You may want to respond by sharing with others, you might join the conversation, you might need to adjust something you are doing based on this new information. So don't over do it, because if you read ALL the relevant blogs there will be no time to respond accordingly.

Reading every Tweet, Facebook post, or Status Update. This is similar to subscribing to too many blogs. You want to follow them because they have good stuff to say, but once you begin to follow a big crowd you can't catch every little thing. So don't feel guilty if you miss some posts. I highly recommend making Favorites Lists (“Groups” in Facebook) so that you can make sure to catch everything that the most relevant people have to say. **Disclaimer: if you have time to read a ton, read as much as you realistically have time for. I think listening (reading) is one of the most important parts of social media marketing, but don't kill your productivity by reading all day long.

Getting involved in too many different social media sites. Keep it to the sites that are most relevant to your immediate fan base. We use Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, & a few Forums. We post to a few main forums that speak to our industry. We comment on blog articles that are relevant and we can add some value to. We write our own blog, and we are maintaining our Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube profiles. There certainly are more options for us, but this is where we find our specific community interacts. Your industry may have a ton of forums but not a lot of bloggers. It is certainly industry specific. Don't be afraid to ask customers where they “hang-out”, and don't be afraid to try something, give it the appropriate time to see if it works, and then make your exit if you find it does not work for your needs.

Checking your social media too often. Block out specific times of day where you spend 30 minutes or an hour, reading and replying on your social media pages. Don't let the urge to hop over and check it every hour pull you under. Then the day is over and all you have to show for it is your social media posts and by then you are running out of good original work and content to talk about anyway.

Following or Friending people who are not a part of your community. Do you automatically let anyone who asks you to be a friend, be a friend? Do you automatically follow any Twitter follower that follows you? This can be a humongous waste of time. Again, you have to be choosy. Don't let anyone who is not relevant to your business take any of your time or energy. There are many types of relevant people in this world; mentors, prospects, clients, industry experts, P.R. connections, local connections, you will have to make the final decision. The important thing here is to not let a bunch of spamming, get rich quick, time wasters get mixed into your community.

Posting repeat messages or setting up automated messages. I know this sounds ridiculous that these two things actually waste your time, but let me explain. If you set up automated status updates through ping or an rss feed you are wasting your time and everyone else's. No one wants to read automatic status updates. Everyone knows they are automated, especially if they are following several industry giants and see the same thing posted, verbatim, over and over. Those messages are not personal and will send your followers straight to their Unfollow buttons.

I have seen many companies on many occasions who have a slogan or an elevator pitch or a special claim to fame, use that message non-stop on their social media feeds. I have even witnessed updates like these containing the exact same typo they had in the previous version of it. I have also seen this status update posted multiple times in the same day! Talk about exasperating. Can you imagine in your twitter feed, over and over again all day “companyxyz: We're the home of the Award Winning Acme XYZ Thing-a-ma-jig!” Literally copied & pasted all day long? Not so good. #Unfollow

How do you keep from wasting valuable time while tackling your Social Media Marketing?

Join The Conversation

  • Elaine Fogel's picture
    Aug 8 Posted 6 years ago Elaine Fogel

    Katie, how true! It's very easy to get entwined in this channel and before you know it, several hours have passed. Pruning is a good exercise every now and then! :)

  • Aug 8 Posted 6 years ago Iren Huszar (not verified)


      Hi Maggie!

      I  was triying to get on that swom site and my experiences that there are very good possibilities for good  and better connections, but I am not Gold and the cause is that in every month I have to buy it. My purse doesnt, allow it to me. Anyway as I,ve experienced the money can,t hve been able to circkle around me and that makes me thinking about it.

        From there I have a business offer by Skype which I am trying to implement, but I am a little bit sceptical, because between America and Hungary there is a bi-bi distance not only by real distance, but in  cultural and  eical meaning, or don,t know is there "etika" existing at all in world today? What is your opinion about that?

        Thanks for contacting with You. Bye!



  • Aug 6 Posted 6 years ago Jesse (not verified)


     Nice points. It depends on what your objectives are really IMO. For people like me who help organisations connect with their target markets on social media, i follow as many people as i can and allow loads of people to follow me. I also give tools to those seeking connection to do it unreservedly.

    For individuals, with private lives, i believe all of your points work very well.

    For brands, it's a game of numbers. And since influence is the currency of social media, the more you can get your message out to, the merrier and better.



  • Aug 6 Posted 6 years ago Gabriel Gheorghiu (not verified)

    You are so right - the more people you follow and/or tools you use, the less efficient social media will be for you.

    Fortunately, there are ways to group things together, like Twitter lists, Google groups, forums and even tools like Gist which let you see everything in one place. This can help you find the most relevant information for you, but you will still miss a lot.

  • Aug 6 Posted 6 years ago Ed R. (not verified)

    The hardest part I'm finding is learning to cull the bad from the good.  It's like going to a huge shopping mall filled with stores of every kind, you have a list of what you really need but you don't know where to start.  So you just start going through every store there hoping to find what's on your list.  Then someone, like you, reminds me to go check the mall's kiosk and look there for what I am looking for because it is organized by catergory and I won't have to waste my time attempting to go to every store.

    Now if I can just find that kiosk.

  • Katie Urbain's picture
    Aug 6 Posted 6 years ago Katie Urbain

    You have a good point Robert!

    Sites like these can be much more thought provoking than Twitter & Facebook. However, I can rely on Twitter/Facebook to lead me to new sites with great content that I may have not found otherwise, letting me find the great stuff that others are reading, not just what they are writing. Then, I can add those great new sites to Google Reader and off I go.

  • Aug 6 Posted 6 years ago Sandra Payne (not verified)

    Excellent points with this post. I have to take issue, however, with the following/friending recommendation. I think a lot of people on twitter don't know that the site limits the number of followers you can add when you hit 2,000. It will cap you until you have at least 1,800 followers (10% away from 2,000). It seems to keep things at around the 10% differential cap from there on -- unless you're a celebrity. So, while I agree that you don't need to follow obvious spammers, you limit the ability of people to follow you if you don't fairly follow back. Since social media is about being social, it also seems downright unfriendly not to follow back when someone follows you. Of course, whether you pay attention to their tweets or not, that's a different matter. The best way to create a usable feed for yourself is to list the people whom you want to pay attention to. You can even lock your list if you would rather not broadcast who your favorite tweeps are. Happy tweeting!

  • Aug 3 Posted 6 years ago RobertBacal

    Great stuff. After about 18 months of social media experimenting and research, I've decided the best use of my time is to regularly check in to this site, and a few others, and basically cut out almost all personal involvement on Twitter, facebook and linkedIn. I'll automate the process of sending blog posts to them, and respond to people who specifically want to talk, but otherwise, no.

    The reason is the quality, or lack thereof on social media. There is simpy no comparision between the discussions here, like this one, and any that occur on Facebook, LinkedIn, or (bottom of the barrel), Twitter.

    I've been saying to businesses in particular, that when it isn't fun, stop wasting time on social media.

    It's just like usenet. Once it was great, waaayback, but who uses it now?

    ...but that's just me.


  • BrandonCox's picture
    Aug 1 Posted 6 years ago BrandonCox

    I struggle with this all the time. My Google Reader account often fluctuates between 300 and 400 feeds and I follow thousands on Twitter. My own tactic hasn't been to unsubscribe but to skim with a willingness to miss things. I can discover 40 great pieces of content per day, but my own followers probably don't want to see that many links tweeted out anyway, especially if they're reading the same blogs. So I've become more picky.

    As for Twitter, lists are everything for me. I have a folder on my bookmarks bar that contains direct links to each of my lists, making it easy to just click and check in to see what's happening in each of the industries I track.

  • Jul 31 Posted 6 years ago Debi Davis (not verified)

    My secret for not wasting time on social media is to have well-defined objectives. It helps me to stay the course and not get distracted by the noise that comes through my social channels.  For example, during work hours, if I open Facebook, it's to read the newsfeed from accounts in my list (as you suggested) related to my professional objective. Same goes for Twitter and YouTube.

    I do, of course, have several objectives for using social media.  But, to manage my time, I focus on one objective for a set period of time.  Knowing that I've scheduled time to get to my other objectives later, helps me to ignore distractions.  And, by using lists and search tools, I know I won't miss anything important. This, of course, requires self-discipline.

    Hiring a social media manager can also prevent you from wasting time.  It's their job to sift out the most important information, based on your objectives for using social media, and delivering that information in one tidy, easy-to-read report. You then, can avoid the temptation of getting sucked in by the prattle that is so much a part of the social media scene.

  • Jul 30 Posted 6 years ago Jenny Kotulak (not verified)



    You make some excellent points.  I really enjoyed your post.  I think it is important to find which social media outlets work personally  and work them consistently.  If you spread yourself too thin it is a big waste of time.  As a Real Estate Broker, I fiind that blogging on Active Rain works really well for me and I am very involved with Flickr for my photography hobby.  I have a business page on Facebook but I concentrate mostly on my real estate website trying to keep it fresh and full of great hyper local content.  I still firmly believe that Content is King.

    Many consumers today choose a REALTOR from going online.  I feel this is the same for many professional business people.  It's important to be front and centre in order for your services to be considered.

  • workbox's picture
    Jul 30 Posted 6 years ago workbox

    Davina & Katie,

    Great points!

    I like to follow people and businesses that are complementary to my business (they can send me leads!). But, ultimately, I follow "insiders" and "outsiders." "Outsiders" find my business (web design & development) a little confusing, and often I can forward useful posts/tips to "outsiders" from "insiders" that help explain and clarify my business.


    Eric Weidner -

  • Jul 30 Posted 6 years ago Eric Weidner (not verified)


    Very good point. I like to follow and network with folks who have complementary businesses or skills (like folks who can send me leads! ;) ). But, ultimately, I follow both because the people who are not "insiders" find my industry (web design & development) a little confusing, so I find great info/posts from other folks in my industry and can pass them onto my "outsiders."

  • Jul 30 Posted 6 years ago Eric Adechi (not verified) Great post indeed. There is a ton of information out there and not enough hours to devote to reading, and understanding all that is relevant to you. So my approach is mirrored on the way we enroll in university. My industry being my " major" with a focus on key topics that add value to my everyday work and all else I am interested in, being a "minor". I find this approach helps my productivity while staying on top of the latest trends, news, etc... The only time consuming step being the actual selection process in terms of sources to follow. Quality over quantity is the rule of the game.
  • Katie Urbain's picture
    Jul 30 Posted 6 years ago Katie Urbain

    You are right Davina.

    I should watch more wording more carefully or elaborate more. You definitely should network with people outside of your industry - but it has to apply in some way or give you some value. I guess I was just trying to make the point that auto-following everyone who follows you is a complete disaster. ;o)  Thanks for clarifying that point - I definitely could have made it more clear.

  • DavinaKBrewer's picture
    Jul 30 Posted 6 years ago DavinaKBrewer


    I also limit my time on social media. I turn of TweetDeck, even email at certain points in the day to concentrate on work. There's no way to keep up with all of it, not going to try. Being choosy is a great way to prevent social media time suck. I don't connect with everyone who asks on LinkedIn, don't follow anyone and everyone who follows me, and I've opted to make Facebook my personal, private network.

    I don't automate anything which means I do it manually. It's more time consuming, but more authentic and I get more out of my social media networking.

    Only objection I have is NOT following people outside your community? IMO if you're only following insiders, you're not really networking. If I were to only follow PR and social media pros, I'd end up seeing, reading the same posts over and over again. I did start that way, but have opened my social networking to other fields, other bloggers.. and my business is better for it. I am still choosy about what I read and follow, but love going outside my "field" or community; meet new and interesting people, learn new things .. that's why I'm out here. FWIW.



  • BrandonAndersen's picture
    Jul 30 Posted 6 years ago BrandonAndersen

    Great post Katie!  Blocking out time to check social media is a great way to keep yourself on task for the rest of the day.  However, I occassionally find my 20 minutes of allotted time turning into 45 minutes...60 minutes... :)  I almost feel like I should set a timer that goes off after 20 minutes.

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