PRLog - Dec. 18, 2012 - When your job is to work with the community, post to forums and social media, and keep up to date on social media trends and activities, it can be hard to stay focused and not get lost in the sea of whatever is going on. Social media is a time sink. Few will deny that. So what do you do when your job is social media but you're required to be productive rather than distracted?
There are some key methods of planning, goal-setting and time tracking that can help you be accountable for your time and what you spend it doing. When you enter social media, forums and other online communities, it's very easy to get sucked into the nothingness of distractions when you work online but time tracking and a schedule with goals you can keep will help you avoid this.
The first thing you need is the commitment to reach your goals. If you've fallen into some poor habits, you might also need the willingness to change but it's possible and it's probably when you have the right tools.
Planning Your Schedule
The first step to successful time tracking for community managers and other social media professionals is to plan your schedule. Block out how many hours you will have for working and make note of any breaks or lunchtime in your schedule.
Create a Plan
You first need to go into this with a plan. Your plan will help you to discipline yourself and stay on schedule so you can achieve your goals. To start your plan, make a list of the specific goals that you want to accomplish within a set timeframe. Next, make a list of the short-term goals you would need to meet in order to accomplish your long-term goals along with the actions needed to achieve these goals. Continue until you have a plan that you can work with and consult it regularly to help with managing your time.
Prioritize Your Schedule
Once you have a plan, it's time to prioritize your schedule. Go down your list of actions and arrange them in order of importance. Make a schedule for the week with the most important action listed first for each day and then add the rest in according to priority. This will help to make sure you take care of the most important actions at the beginning of each day. Prioritizing your schedule will help to make your social media efforts go more smoothly and it'll help you meet even the tightest of deadlines.
Make Use of Tools to Aid You
Social networking sites have a variety of tools available that can aid you in your social media work. These are very beneficial, so take advantage of them. You can schedule posts, post to more than one network at a time and even use tools to help manage your followers/following and for some sites, you can even sort these users into lists or groups to make it easier to find certain users more easily.
There are also tools to help you with time management and time tracking, such as Worksnaps. Know what you're doing and when, and be able to hold yourself accountable.
Remember That You Are In Control
Social media is always moving forward and sometimes, it can seem to move so quickly that it's easy to become overwhelmed. You are trying to keep up with changes and updates to the network while also following the right people and replying to your own accounts and messages. It can seem like a full time job to keep up with everything but it helps to remember that you are in control. Your job as a community manager is not to stalk the communities every single minute of every day but rather to set a positive tone that attracts like-minded people and then to check in as a guide to maintain that pleasant atmosphere that has been created.
Accountability with Community Managers
If you are a company that hires a community manager, you can use Worksnaps to help monitor what they are really doing on the clock but on the flip side, the community manager can also use it to hold themselves accountable for their time. This will help them use their time more efficiently.
You can create projects in the system and anyone working on that project can have a role and use it to update everyone else who is working on the same project. It allows you to list tasks and who is responsible for them and check them off as they are completed.
The "work snap" feature takes a random screen shot within the 10-minute interval of what is taking place on your screen. Are you on Facebook replying to comments on the company fanpage or are you distracted looking at lolcats or reading your own personal messages? Finally, tracking time and verifying work are the core features of the Worksnaps program.
With this, you can use these work snaps as a timeline of what you accomplished that day. For example, if you were managing the community accounts for a major brand from noon to 4pm on a particular work day, your work snaps and time tracking may show the following:
12:10pm- Log into company FB page to check for new likes and messages
12:40pm- Post and schedule new posts to the FB page
1:00pm- Spend some time researching news or interesting ideas for future FB posts
1:45pm- Log into company Twitter account and check for messages and reply
2:15pm- Log into the company LinkedIn account and/or groups and check in
2:50pm- Do Hashtag searches for your company name and other related keywords
3:30pm- Search emails and/or forums for any questions, complaints or concerns
3:45pm- Create a goals list for tomorrow's social tasks
4:00pm- End social media taskings
With a program like Worksnaps, there will be verification of these activities and screenshots to support that data.
Worksnaps also shows you total active minutes and inactive minutes to ensure that you (or the employee) is actually working and interacting with the screen during that period, rather than just keeping it open.
Time Tracking for the Self Employed
If you are independently employed, you can still use Worksnaps to help hold yourself accountable for your time and deadlines. All of the same principles apply as listed above but the self-employed person does have the task of holding themselves accountable. Alternatively, you might ask a friend or family member to serve as the person you "report in" to each day. This person can view your Worksnaps and determine whether you were on task. For many self- employed people, just knowing that someone else will be looking over your records is enough motivation to keep them on task during their work hours.
Once you see how much more productive you can be with proper time tracking, you will never look back.
They key to success in this line of work is learning to manage yourself and manage your time. Whether you are self-employed or work as a community manager for a company, you will feel better and more accomplished and your boss will be satisfied with the work you produce as well.