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Is Social Media Killing Your Small Business?

This story originally appeared on PR Newswire's Small Business PR Toolkit

Today, everyone wants to be the King (or Queen!) of . We need to be on , , , +, and, of course, . But is it possible that being everywhere at once might actually be hurting your business?

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Numerous productivity experts have remarked that we live in "busyness' meaning we feel busy because we're continually doing things for the sake of doing them, without considering the actual results. Is it worth our ? Many of us assume we have to be on social media so we are, often to our own detriment.

Consider these stats from

  • 22% of time spent online is spent on social networking.
  • People spent twice as much time on Facebook than they did exercising.
  • The average user spends 24 hours a month on a social networking site.
  • GPA of college students that regularly use Facebook is a full point lower than their peers who do not log on.
  • One out of ten workers spends more time on the Internet than they do working. Workers are interrupted once every 10.5 minutes with things like IM's and Tweets; once that happens it can take as long as 23 minutes for employees to get back on task.

How can you stay on top of your industry and keep up with social media (which never sleeps!)? And what if you are an independent entrepreneur trying to market your business? Being your own boss often poses tough choices: should I finish the proposal for a new client or market myself on social media to encourage future business. If this sounds like a familiar debate, here are a some suggestions to help you manage social media.

1. Make sure you're doing the right things.

I realize this is kind of a no-brainer but it's important to remember. Regularly check your engagement on your social sites. Are people responding or are you just posting and signing off? Be sure that your message is getting to the right people on the right sites. Maybe your message won't resonate with Facebook, maybe your people are really on LinkedIn or Google+. Consider taking a close look at how "social" your social networks really are and whether they're actually benefiting your business.

2. Scan headlines.

In the 24 hour news cycle world of 2015, it's impossible to keep track of everything that's going on, all the time. That's why I suggest doing a quick scan of your headlines every morning. You must be diligent with this. Delete whatever doesn't immediately spike your interest, read what does. If you spend the morning reading everything in your market you're probably gaining a lot of knowledge, but not a lot of value. Not everything matters. Only pay attention to what does.

3. Get a media alert system.

Two new systems – or – can help keep you apprised of any happenings in your market. The selected keywords you choose will be very important so make sure they aren't too general. Also, you'll probably want to modify these keywords as your market changes. With these services you will get one email, once a day, with every headline and story mentioning your keywords. Some services will even send you tweets that mention the keywords, which is also helpful because if your objective is to engage in conversation around a particular keyword, you can dig in as soon as you get the notification email.

4. Forget FOMO!

Do you suffer from FOMO ()? According to numerous newspaper articles, a lot of us do. We stay hyper-connected to everything because we're afraid we might miss something. But I can almost guarantee you if it's something major, you'll find out. If it's not, don't worry about it. Get yourself out of the FOMO habit by turning off your devices at a certain time or for a certain period of time during the day so you can concentrate on work.

5. Watch your numbers.

Similar to my first point, watch your numbers closely. Pay attention to your social media engagement and make sure that people are, in fact, engaging with you. This will help find places to enhance or reduce your efforts. Don't waste your time on things that won't matter. A lot of what folks do in social media is also related to FOMO. They want to be "everywhere" because they feel like if they don't, they'll miss out on business, news, speaking gigs, whatever. But people don't enter your message through every portal, you'll find that the majority of your customers is on one or maybe two specific social media sites. Be there and ignore the rest.

6. Limit your time.

It's difficult, but I really recommend that you limit your social media time to thirty minutes in the morning and thirty minutes at night. Let's face it, we can watch the stream of conversation all day but if we do, we're losing valuable time that we could be investing elsewhere.

7. Busy vs. productive.

We're constantly bombarded with "busy" messages. Consumers are busy, we're busy, everyone is busy - but are we busy or productive? The two aren't the same. If spending too much time on social media is limiting your productivity, you have a problem. Often before each task I'll ask myself whether this is just part of being busy, or if it is productive. Is the task leading somewhere or just keeping me on the constant loop of "busy?" Imagine how much more free time you'd have if you pulled back and assessed busy vs. productive for everything you do at work. It's great to be busy. Better to be busy than to be sitting around waiting for the phone to ring, but we often associate success with being busy. If you're not accomplishing anything, then being busy is, well, just being busy. The problem with social media is that it "feels" busy which can be a bit deceptive.

8. Consider outsourcing.

If you can't handle everything you need to do in social media, considering hiring someone who can help you reach your goals. Social media experts and assistants are popping up everywhere. For a recommendation, log into LinkedIn and put out a call for some resources – it can also be a fantastic place to find new vendors! Recently I put out a call for a collection agency and found some really amazing companies. People on LinkedIn love making recommendations so go there first if you're trying to find someone.

Productivity experts will often encourage shutting down your Internet or turning off email to help you focus. While these ideas are great, there's still a huge time-suck that is social media. It's part of what we need to do to gain exposure and new business, but it can also be a serious detriment to our success. Finding a balance between being "social" and being productive isn't always easy, but it's a balance worth striking.

Written by Penny C. Sansevieri, adjunct instructor NYU and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc.

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