This poll analysis was written by Jeremy Victor, president of Make Good Media and editor-in-chief of B2Bbloggers.com. For more of his writing, visit B2Bbloggers.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.

In this week’s poll, we asked: How much time do you spend on social media each day? The results:

  • Less than 1 hour: 30.31%
  • 1-2 hours: 25.62%
  • 2-3 hours: 13.12%
  • 3-4 hours: 10%
  • 4-8 hours: 9.69%
  • No time: 6.25%
  • More than 8 hours: 5%

Too much? Too little? It’s an answer we all want to know. What’s the proper amount of time to spend on social media each day? There is no right answer.

From a personal perspective, for me social media has simply become a part of my life. I am sure some around me observe this and wonder if it is all worth it. I don’t think of it that way.

From my personal blog, to reading news via Flipboard, to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. … these are all tools that I use to learn, communicate, connect and stay in touch with the people that matter to me and the world at large. I think it’d actually be hard for me to measure the amount of time I spend on social media each day. And to be honest, I don’t really care. The same way I never cared about how much time I spent reading the newspaper, talking on the phone or writing e-mail each day.

Just because the way we get and share information has changed doesn’t mean the time I spend doing it is wasted or not meaningful. I’d imagine the same is true for you, though from a professional perspective this thinking doesn’t necessarily translate.

Let’s face it though, while what I said above is true, social media (at work) can be distracting, very distracting (if you let it). It has an overwhelming ability to cause inefficiency in productivity — leading to missed deadlines, forgotten tasks and even worse, forgotten promises. It is certainly one of the main reasons 31% of companies still ban Facebook and Twitter at work.

However, at the same time, each day we are learning and experiencing tremendous benefits from getting engaged in social media activities and becoming a social business. So what is a person to do? Here are some tips to keep your time spent on social media in check.

  • Be disciplined. Create planned times in your daily routine to conduct your social media activities and stick to it.
  • Develop targets for each activity. Track progress and your time spent, and measure your performance. Having achievable targets is vital to managing personal productivity because it lets you know when to stop one task and move to another.
  • Do one activity at a time. Personally, one of the things I have noticed that causes me to become inefficient is mixing the activities. I’ll be in the middle of writing an article, and the next thing I realize, I am commenting on a post I read for research. That’s not disciplined — that’s wandering. Be careful not to get lost in an endless amount of clicks and links … and look back after 30 minutes has gone by and you have nothing accomplished.

Do you have other advice for staying productive and not allowing social media to become a drain on your time?

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5 Responses to “How much time should you spend on social media?”

  1. devanialderson says:

    On Facebook: 30-45mins max (for business)
    On Twitter: should never take any more the 10mins. (IMO) :)
    My recent post Check it out!

  2. Amy says:

    The best way for me to manage social media is to be on there at specific times during the day. I do as much scheduling as possible in the morning, and check back in the afternoon to see who's responded. If extra interaction is required (thanking someone for RT'ing, responding to a question, etc.) I do it right then and move on. It's easy to get sucked in. :)

  3. It's easy to get sidetracked in the middle of internet research. One way to avoid that might be to keep an open Word doc in which you copy and paste links to articles and blog posts you'd like to explore in greater depth and/or comment on later (rather than doing so immediately). You can then return to them once your work is complete. That way, they won't destroy your productivity on your current project.

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