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How much time do you spend on social media?

I'm not sure how many times I've been asked this question. Too many, perhaps. Yet, it's still a question that I find very challenging to answer as I "do" social media not just for personal use but also for my professional work. And, when it comes to my online presence, it's not always easy to define the line between social for work and social for pleasure. Plus, I don't usually have a huge block of time allocated to doing social media stuff on a daily basis. Often, it's just bits and pieces here and there whenever I can find the time during the day.

Anyway, I thought I'd try and write this down, so I can work this out with you...

Social media morning habits

As a general rule: I check my personal Twitter account first and foremost. Well, actually, it's either my work email or Twitter first.

Yes, most days, I'm one of those people who fumble for my smartphone first thing in the morning, while I'm not even fully awake. I don't email or Tweet on auto, mind you. I prefer to read my Twitter stream first, scouring the latest Tweets for interesting and time-sensitive news and resources.

Not everyday, of course. But yeah, most mornings, I do like to read up and find some gems in the huge stream of information flashing before my eyes via my Twitter stream. If I find something great or share-worthy, I mark it as a 'favourite' and/or I reTweet/repost. If I want to use it for more exploration later on, I email the Tweet or link to myself.

Sometimes, I say good morning or hello on Twitter. And respond to some @ replies, RTs, and other messages that I received overnight.

Then, if I'm so inclined, I would check my personal email account and Facebook. Usually, I look at my Facebook notifications, peek in to my Facebook stream, and click on a couple of my most visited lists/groups on Facebook (aka, people and orgs I stalk the most!).

I probably spend an average of 15 minutes in bed, half asleep, first thing in the morning doing all these things. Sometimes more, sometimes less. But, when I say more, I believe it's a maximum of 30 minutes. Unless I'm in no rush to go anywhere or do anything, then it can go for longer (which is, uh, hardly ever).

Once I put my smartphone away, my mornings become a hectic time preparing for work and getting the family ready for the day during the week. At the weekends, my time may even get more filled up due to family events, chores, and other commitments.

On the commute to work, I primarily check Twitter and my two main email accounts (work & personal), and do an occasional peek in to Facebook. Or check out notifications (if any), from other networks. I very rarely do any check-ins on Foursquare or Facebook anywhere at this time of the day. I used to check-in at the train or tram stations on Foursquare, but no longer feel inclined to do that anymore. Unless I have something that I like to say at that particular time.

Social media practice in the office

In the office, I have started using Hootsuite as my main work social media dashboard open all day in the background in one tab in a browser. I used to use Tweetdeck more because I prefer a desktop client. But, I'm finding that if there's more than one person managing an organisational Twitter account, it's best to use a more collaborative social media dashboard like Hootsuite.

I also have our work Twitter account open on one tab in one browser, and my personal Twitter account open in another tab in another browser. This way, I can also easily monitor things that get skipped by the smartphone and Hootsuite notifications.

I monitor the work Twitter stream almost constantly, but do not "watch" it, if that makes sense. I've started replying to Tweets, monitoring RTs and follows, etc again recently.

Why recently? Well, I sort of stopped being actively involved in the day-to-day management of our organisation's social media accounts, as my role in the office has become more of a strategist and a line manager of a small team. Plus, I have been travelling, networking, and presenting a lot for work.

But, I'm now trying to do more day-to-day stuff again while I can because I find that I lose touch with my skills if I just do strategy and manage people. Not that I mind too much, truth be told. I've slowly grown in to that sort of role and have actually begun enjoying it. But, I'm certainly having to develop other skills in doing so. However, I digress and this probably would require a few separate blog posts.

Anyway, as part of the pure social media work that I do in my job, I'd say I spend approximately an hour a day (on a good day) on this - mostly Twitter and Facebook. And maybe, LinkedIn. Occasionally, I check out Google Plus, YouTube videos and Flickr photos. But, very limited time.

Admittedly, some days, my back-to-back meetings, report writing, coping with massive email, etc do not even allow me any time at all to take a peek in to any of my social media accounts during office hours.

But yeah, I think in an ideal scenario, an hour a day for pure social media work for my oranisation would be what I aim for. And perhaps, I'd add an extra 15-20 minutes or so, if I consider my networking time using my personal account during office hours. Maybe longer, if there's an event or a community session happening.

This time does not include writing "meatier" blog posts and other content, as well as testing out new platforms, doing research, and reading up on the latest information/resources about social media.

The rest of the day with social media

Sometimes, if I feel like it, I'd check in to lunch venues, coffee venues, or drink venues using Foursquare. I may even post a photo or two via Instagram, and on to Facebook, Flickr, and my Tumblr account.

I'd check Twitter and Facebook briefly, scanning for information, responding to comments, liking posts, RTing, and sharing during the commute home and right before dinner.

When the family's asleep, I may or may not spend more time on my accounts depending on what else is happening and how tired I'm feeling. This month, I probably spent my evenings mostly online due to blogging for NaBloPoMo and sharing my posts.

On average, I probably spend another 30-45 minutes during the rest of my day. Not including blogging time.

Weekends on social media

My social media habits on the weekends are a lot less predictable. Some weekends, I can spend up to an hour (or more) at any given time doing social networking on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare, etc. I like using this time to catch up with family and friends online. But, most weekends, the days are so booked with taking kids to their ballet/soccer/birthday parties, etc, plus doing chores, studying, catching up on projects and work --- that all I can manage is a quick peek in to my email and social media accounts. Mostly just reading up, not saying anything.

Bottomline: Time spent on social media on a daily basis

It can be as little as absolutely zilch time on doing social media (rare days) up to maybe 3-4 hours in a day doing either/both personal and work social media. But, on average, I'd say 1-2 hours a day might be fair assumption.

What are your social media habits like? How much time do you usually spend on social media?

About the Author Shai Coggins (MTeach, MSoc Sci App Psych)

Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.

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