Note: Skip to the end of this post to read about an exciting new resource I’m currently working on!
I recently tweeted about Michele Theberge’s guest post on using mindfulness to cope with distractions, and one observant reader responded to point out the irony of sending this message via Twitter, one of the biggest distractions on the planet!
The exchange got me thinking about how artist’s can utilise social media more efficiently, and avoid wasting hours every day on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc.
I’d like to share a few free resources with you that I’ve found very useful in focusing my social media efforts and getting maximum mileage with minimum distraction.
Focus by Leo Babauta
Focus is a free simplicity manifesto in the age of distraction. The whole book is full of useful strategies for focusing on your important work, and simplifying your life in general, but I particularly liked the chapter on clearing distractions, which includes a list of distraction-beating tools, such as programs that will block you from accessing distracting websites at certain times, leaving you free to concentrate on your creative work.
To keep your social media followers interested, you need to regularly post links to articles and resources that you think they will be interested in, but you don’t want to bombard them with a ton of tweets all at once. It’s better to spread your tweets out at regular intervals.
Buffer allows you to do just that. Once you’ve signed up, you simply connect buffer to your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, install the browser extension, and then when you find a web page you’d like to share with your followers, you simply click the buffer button and your post will be added to your queue and fired off at regular intervals.
You can adjust the times and frequency that your buffer posts are sent, and you can have up to 10 posts in your queue with a free account. If you upgrade to a paid account, you get unlimited posts in your queue, and you can specify different schedules on certain days.
Hint: You can also get a free report from Tweriod that will tell you the most effective times to schedule your tweets.
I find buffer useful because I can allocate a fixed time for browsing the web for interesting content, and then add several posts at once to my buffer queue, rather than constantly interrupting my creative work to look for posts to tweet. I tend to have buffer post 3 – 4 times per day, so I only have to top up my queue every two or three days.
Tweet Old Post
Tweet Old Post is a plugin for WordPress that allows you to automatically tweet your old blog posts at random.
This is a really great way of helping your new Twitter followers to read some of your old blog posts, which they might otherwise have missed. At the same time, it reduces the time you have to spend looking for interesting posts to tweet.
It’s important to only use this plugin if most of your content is ‘timeless’ and won’t go out of date. For example, you don’t want to keep retweeting a post about an ‘upcoming exhibition’ that happened last year.
If you have a mixture of timeless and time-sensitive posts, what you can do is exclude individual posts from being tweeted, so you can exclude your time-sensitive posts and then only your timeless posts will be tweeted.
Again, you can alter the interval between tweets. I would keep this to a maximum of once or twice a day to avoid being overly self-promotional.
How many times have you said to yourself “I’ll just quickly check Facebook”, only to find yourself hours later still reading articles that your friends have posted about.
I find that one distraction tends to lead to another, so even though you only intended to spend a couple of minutes checking your news feed, you will often end up getting pulled away by interesting stories or funny pictures.
One tool I’ve found that really helps me avoid this is Pocket (formerly Read It Later), which allows you to save interesting articles with the touch of a button, so that you can read them later at a more convenient time.
It’s basically like bookmarking, but the beauty of Pocket is that it works on smartphones and tablets, and you can read your saved articles offline.
So if a friend posts an article on Facebook that I want to read, I’ll usually just save it to pocket, and then read it later that day on my phone when I have some free time. It really helps to keep me focused on what I’m supposed to be doing.
Share Your Tips
Do you have any strategies or tools that you use to avoid being distracted by the lure of social media. Let us know about them in the comments.
Announcement: The Complete Guide to Building Your Own Artist’s Website
I’m currently working on a comprehensive guide that will teach artists how to set up and promote their own website without having to pay a fortune for a web designer, or learn how to code a website by hand.
The guide will cover the complete website setup process, as well as SEO, website maintenance, building an audience, social media and much more.