How can you budget for social media time? People keep asking me how they can add social media to their already packed daily schedule. They fear that employees will be using their work time to Tweet about personal things or to talk to their friends on Facebook. One of the biggest complaints I hear from salespeople as well as CEO's relates to time.

Mike Damphousse with Green, a small business with 30 employees designed to help sales generate leads, said, “If we’re not careful, this place could come to a grinding halt.” He went on to explain that he wants people to use the social media but at their own pace. Employees are encouraged to spend time on social media while they are still held accountable for meeting their sales goals. Damphousse hired a junior marketing person on staff who dedicates a third of her time to coordinate the social media activity. She reads 75 to 100 RSS feeds and when she finds something of interest to someone’s online persona, she forwards it to them to Tweet. "She spends a few hours a day doing this to make it easier for everyone else," he said. With this strategy Damphousse is able to get involved with the social media without risking too much time away from “selling.”

Recently, Dave Evans wrote a piece titled, “Social Media Is Not Free: Here’s Why.” In that article he discusses the importance of using time wisely. He wrote, “What are the real costs of social media? Start with the opportunity cost to the business as a result of employees listening, analyzing, participating, collaborating and in general doing exactly what they should be doing to ensure a successful social media implementation.”

Everything you read now will talk about advances made in sales by using social media. You’ll read how Starbucks brought 1 million customers into their store in one day with a Twitter campaign. You’ll read how a small hotel (Roger Smith Hotel) in New York City searched for people on Twitter asking about tourism in New York and increased its sales by $20,000. You’ll read how Domino's increased it’s volume with a Foursquare application. All this suggests that you'd better get busy on the social media.

What you must do, however, is be social savvy. By that we mean, don’t just jump in the fray. Figure out what you want to do (that’s your goal, by the way) and then decide which tool will best accomplish that goal. Once you’ve done that, jump in. Then do as Dave Evans suggests, “Plan for—and by so doing, account for—the time required to listen, post, respond and manage a social media sales strategy.”

Here are some time saving tips:

• Set clear time goals. Many people read blogs in the morning when they would normally read the newspaper. Give yourself a certain length of time daily to read and respond to blogs (30 minutes).

• Back up your Tweets. Use Hootsuite ( or TweetLater ( to write several Tweets and time their publication throughout the day.

• Use Google Alerts to find posts of interest throughout the web. I set up Google Alerts for Social Media and ROI. I get a digest daily. I scan those articles, Tweet some, comment on some and use others in my own blog posts. I spend no more than an hour a day doing that.

• Work each social media site at a given time and a given day throughout the week. I work LinkedIn twice a week. I go to Facebook daily for 15 minutes.

• Use a company like Hubspot ( to identify Tweets, blog posts and other web-related content that are relevant to your keywords. Spend about 30 minutes daily scanning those items and joining the conversation.

• Write blog posts at a given time weekly and spread out their scheduled publication. Blog no less than twice weekly.

• If you get too absorbed in the social media, once you set a time limit, set your timer. Stop when that timer sounds.

It’s not all fun. It’s work and then it’s fun.

Author's Bio: 

Joan Curtis is the CEO for Total Communications Coach She has done leadership training and consulting for over 20 years. Last year she published, Managing Sticky Situations at Work http://www.managingstickysituationsatwork. In it she creates a new model of communication called the Say It Just Right Model. Her newest book was released by Praeger Press in September 2010, The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media. Both can be ordered at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million. Check out the blog