Chris Brogan on Social Media Traps

The popular blogger explains how to save time and be more effective with online connections.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the August 2011 issue of . Subscribe »

I often write about an amazing tool or a great way to build business via the web. This month, let's talk about the ways this digital world can get to be too much. We won't weep and gnash our teeth. We'll just figure out what holes you may be falling into and find our way through to a better place, where you can feel confident using digital tools and not worry about drowning.

Tools for saving time
Use an egg timer--or try the virtual version at

Track your time usage online at

Turn off push notifications to your e-mail and phone.

Set up twice-a-day check-ins on e-mail and other services.

Unsubscribe from newsletters and e-mails that you aren't reading.

Take back some Facebook time.
Are you maintaining a Facebook page for your business? The best use of your time there is to ask your community what they need and want, and to let them know about events and activities that might be of interest to them. Consider posting videos and photos from your events. Then close Facebook down rather than checking how your crops are doing on FarmVille or wading through several hundred status updates from your family members and friends.

Tweet a little lighter.
Getting into a conversation on Twitter is great. So is updating people on your business. Reading everyone's links and clicking every little interesting article, however, is a sure path toward losing one or two hours before you know it. Go ahead and comment on a few of your customers' tweets, but spend no more than 20 minutes at a time on Twitter. Set an egg timer (I use a real live old-timey one). It helps.

Are you researching or lollygagging?
I love reading blogs. I use Google Reader to go through them more quickly than I could by visiting each and every website directly. Sometimes I'm reading to stay up on news; other times I'm reading because I'm procrastinating. The first line of defense against the latter is to eliminate subscriptions to blogs that don't grow your business or your other interests.

Leave the bleeding edge to others.
The No. 1 question I'm asked weekly is "What's new?" People are obsessed with the latest technologies, the coolest websites and the chance to jump to the front of the line on some new social network. The thing is, new sites rarely turn into amazing sites. The new tech rarely changes the way you do business. It's just new. Instead, focus on the core elements of doing what matters.

Keep guidelines for your time.
Decide what you intend to do with your time online before you get in front of the computer. Do you leave your
e-mail open all day? Is that really serving your business needs? Set two or three times a day to check your e-mail for 20 to 30 minutes, tops. If your goal is to build more business, plan how you'll connect on the various social networks where your customers and prospects might gather, as well as how you'll interact. Measure your efforts.

If you need your time back, the best way to get it is to stay focused on your plans. All this new and shiny stuff has to fit those plans or it's not helping. Whatever you do, watch out for those holes that cause you to lose time. Your business needs you.

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