Tuesday, September 6, 2011

So How Much Time Do I REALLY Have to Spend on Social Networking?

Truthfully—the bare minimum.
Yep, you read that right.

But what about the hype, the promises, the RESULTS? Don’t the results increase in direct proportion to the effort? No, not so much.

Fairly quickly, the return on investment when, it comes to time and social networking, begins to diminish. I that sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s the absolute truth.

That said, how much time is required?
It depends…on your expertise, your audience and the desired result. 

Your Expertise
With any new skill, including social networking, there is a learning curve. It takes time to come up to speed on how to use Twitter, Facebook and Blogging platforms effectively.
But, you don’t need to become an expert. After all, you want to be a writer—not a social media expert! So how do you know when you're expert enough to be effective? Here are some basics you should have mastered:

Twitter: You need to have a Twitter account and know the basics of tweeting. Here is the first, second and third in a series I wrote about Twitter. And one stand alone post about Twitter.
  • How to compose an effective tweet.
  • How to use hashtags correctly. Here’s a post on that.
  • The difference between a direct message, a reply and a tweet.

Facebook: You need to have a Facebook account and know how to navigate Facebook. Here's a helpful post.
  • How to accept friend requests, as well as send them.
  • How to hide unwanted posts.
  • How to compose an effect Facebook post.
  • How to configure your account privacy settings to protect yourself and your family while still interacting with readers and clients.
  • The difference between a regular page and a fan page.

Blogging: You should have a blog—to practice writing on a deadline if nothing else. Here are parts one, two and three of a series I wrote on blogging.
  • You need to know how often to post. Unsure what’s best? Here’s a post to help you decide.
  • How to use keywords and labels effectively.
  • How to tie your title to your keywords.
  • How to use photos and videos to illustrate and partner with your posts.
  • How to answer comments effectively.
  • Which platform best suits your needs and skill level. Here is a comparison of the three most popular platforms.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be explaining these topics more in-depth. But for now here’s my short answer on how much time to spend each day—once you’re familiar with social networking.
You should spend no more than 30 to 45 minutes per day, five days a week on social networking. 

Yep, after talking with thousands of authors and writers, I’ve found that any more time than that becomes counter-productive and actually interferes with our writing.

If you’re spending more time than that per day, something’s not working. So now it’s your turn, how much time do you spend daily on social networking? Is it working for you? Do you know how to tell if it’s working? I’d love to have you share your answers and your questions in the comments.

And don’t forget to join the conversation!


  1. Edie,

    I spent most of the day on social media yesterday because someone suggested friends to me concerning their (Lou Gehrig's) ALS people group. These are the people I want to minister and reach out to and will be my platform/audience for my book. It was a snowball effect where they were letting me join their ALS groups and follow ALS blogs I want to follow. Honestly, it was a God thing!

    I am not a published author yet, so I am at the opposite end of the spectrum! That makes a big difference! I have many hours a day doing social networking to get me to where you are!

    A lot of credit goes to you and your class at BRMCWC. Thanks again!!

  2. I'm still trying to decide between Hootsuite and Tweetdeck. I need to do this. I'm stalking ... er, I mean following these posts and am sharing this around so everyone can be along for the ride.

  3. Judy, you're right, there is a learning curve. But be careful, even as a beginning writer who's building a following you can avoid writing by social networking.
    Stacy - thank you! INHO (In my humble opinion) I suggest you begin with Tweetdeck to get your feet wet, then, If you need to, move to Hootsuite. The main reason is price. Tweetdeck is free and Hootsuite has a small charge for almost the same benefits.
    Blessings All - E

  4. This was such a timely post for me. I have learned--or rather, am still learning--to limit my Facebook time. Your suggestion of 30-45 minutes sounds reasonable, so I'll adopt that.

    But Twitter just doesn't tempt me like FB does. I try to Tweet once a day or once every few days, which I'm sure is a total waste of time, simply because I'm unable to follow through with such sparse posts.

    Thanks for the info. I need all the help I can get in this world of social networking!

  5. Biggest lesson learned: Stay on TweetDeck for a while--then turn it off so I can focus on writing. So long as it's on, I am too easily distracted. *BEEP*

  6. Have you got a dose of self discipline to go along with this post? : ) I'm like Vonda, not tempted at all by Twitter but Facebook is a different story ... truly lost in space sometimes when I get there. Good advice to limit it to less than an hour. Always good stuff, Edie.

  7. Edie,
    I need to start blogging again so this was a good reminder and gentle nudge :).

    Thanks for your helpful, informative, and FUN post!

  8. Vonda, I'm much better if I stick to viewing Facebook on Tweetdeck. Otherwise it's way too much of a temptation!
    Beth V, Tweetdeck stays on a lot on my computer because I've gotten so used to it. But I have to have it on mute. *BEEP*
    Kim, again, Tweetdeck keeps me focused on what I NEED to do, not just grazing! Believe me, I do NOT have an self control to spare. :)
    Beth F, I miss your posts - I'm glad you'll be starting back up again!
    Blessings All, E

  9. I endorse Edie's TweetDeck suggestion. As an extra guard against the hyposis of endless tweet-stream watching, I'd also suggest setting up search columns, likely paralleling lists you establish. Without building a few bulwarks against the torrent (and certainly time limits are good inclusions), you'll never catch up, and never read it all, and never ... well, never get your writing done.

    More than 10 minutes, three times per day, on twitter, and you're just inviting the maelstrom.

  10. This is such an informative post. Thank you.