Facebook. Pinterest. Twitter. LinkedIn. Blogging. There are so many ways to spend your time online, but how do you get the most bang for your buck? Where should you be concentrating your time? Here are some thoughts to help you focus:
1. Decide Your Aim For Being Online
I’m a big believer that every speaker needs to have an online presence for one simple reason: When an event organizer is going to hire a speaker, the first thing they do is Google her name. They want to see what she has already done. You want to make sure that you have a website, blog, or something so that when you’re Googled, a page introducing you will come up–rather than a page from your old High School listing you as being on the reunion committee. So being online is essential. Spending all your time there is not–and, indeed, you shouldn’t spend all your time online! You have other things to do–reach out to churches, practice talks, write new ones. Even just spend some quiet time with God. And if you’re not careful, social media can start to take up all your time, making you feel productive without actually leading to more speaking engagements or helping you to carry out your mission. So why are you online? Here are several reasons:
1. To develop a presence so that conference organizers can learn who I am 2. To uncover new speaking opportunities as people get to know me and ask me to speak 3. To branch out and start to speak online through webinars, etc. 4. To create a business that is also online–through earning advertising income with blogging, selling products, and other things.
All of those options are valid, but you need to know what you’re working towards. Currently I actually do make a decent income from blogging–my blog To Love, Honor and Vacuum gets about half a million hits a month, and I do sell products and advertise. And I reach a ton of people! But that was only after working at it extremely hard for several years. It isn’t easy. Number two is also difficult, because the blessing of the internet–that it’s global and there are no borders–is also one of its drawbacks. If you’re spending a ton of time interacting with people on Facebook and Twitter, but none of those people live anywhere near you, getting asked to speak is unlikely. Once you get well enough known that churches are comfortable paying for airfare, it’s wonderful, but when you’re just starting out, that isn’t likely to happen. Now #3 is quite possible, but just like #4 it requires having a very large reach and a very large audience in order to get people to pay for webinars, and thus will require an awful lot of work and time before you see fruit. That’s why I really recommend that, until you’re able to earn a large fee that includes air travel, #1 is really your main aim. So let’s look at how to do that effectively:
2. Focus on Creating Content
It’s wonderful to have tons of friends on Facebook. It’s great to have a Facebook Page that is liked by thousands. It’s a big ego rush to have 1000 followers on Twitter. But none of that does you any good if your primary aim is to have event organizers learn more about you and be impressed with you and want to hire you. For that you need content. That means that the majority of the time you spend online should be spent writing new blog posts or articles. These can then also be used in your newsletters that you send out to people who have already heard you speak (You are sending out newsletters, right? That’s the primary way to get bookings! Read more here).
3. Share that Content as Widely as Possible
Set up your blog or your newsletter so that it automatically shares on Twitter and Facebook. Create wonderful graphics that can be pinned easily onto Pinterest. My favourite way to find free graphics? Wylio.com. It allows you to search flickr’s Creative Commons for royalty-free images, and then provides you with an image with the credit already embedded. If you’re not yet ready to spend money on a graphics subscription, this is a great option!
4. Keep Your Interactions to Specific Times of Day
If someone comments on your Facebook Page, you do not have to answer immediately. If someone tweets you, you do not have to respond right now. I know we feel like it’s urgent, but it’s better to save three specific times of day when you interact with people than to respond to everything all the time. If you respond instantaneously, it’s also harder for you to get your real work done, because you’re switching back and forth between writing and Facebook. And then when you have writer’s block, it’s easier to just browse social media, thinking, “at least I’m still working.” No, you’re really not doing anything that will help you in the long run. Instead, check after breakfast, at lunch, and before bed or before dinner, or whatever times work for you.
5. Set Quotas
I’ve used two methods to help contain my social media outreach, and I’ll share one as tip 5 and one as tip 6, but these are really either/or. Currently I do the quota thing: I tell myself that each time I check social media, I will respond to any outstanding comments, but I will also instigate 5 new comments. That way I’m reaching out to other people. And if you tell yourself you’ll do 5, you’re usually quite fast at it, and then you know when you’re done and it’s time to get off. Think about it: if you interacted with 5 new people a day, that’s over 1500 a year. That’s a lot. So it may not sound like much, but do it regularly, and it adds up.
6. Set Time Limits
Get a stopwatch, or search for a timer online, and tell yourself, “I will spend 15 minutes on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest now”, and then only spend that amount of time. When it’s done, it’s done.
7. Be Proactive with Influencers
And here’s an extra one: if you want to be most efficient online, keep your eye out for “influencers”–people who run women’s ministry programs; Christian radio personalities; other speakers. Make lists on Facebook and Twitter that are just of these influencers. These are the people you want to interact with most, because these are the people who are most likely to result in new speaking engagements. So when you do have time to interact, make sure to include some influencers in your time. There you go–7 ways to be more productive and efficient with your online activity, instead of letting social media suck all your time! Let me know: what have you found that works? And is there anything I’ve said that you want more information on? I’m looking for new ideas for posts, and I’d be glad to elaborate! Wondering how to start a blog? Get a Twitter following? Organize your Facebook followers? My e-course on Building Your Online Community is 50% off–only $37.50 right now!