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Let’s be honest. Social media activity can get a little messy.

You’re posting links, answering questions, and trying to keep up with the latest changes to Facebook and Twitter (and all the other platforms out there).

And with a growing list of different accounts, staying on top of your posting schedule and trying to engage with everyone can become a huge drain on time without a solid organization system in place.

Creating a steady and efficient social media workflow is a big part of my job and it’s constantly changing as I find new ways to improve how I get things done every week!

In today’s post, I wanted to share a few helpful methods I’ve learned so far to streamline my own social media workflow.

If you’ve got your own tips, I’d love to hear about them! Feel free to share them with me in the comments.

What Was Wrong with My Process

We all know that sharing interesting content regularly is the cornerstone for keeping your communities engaged, but this is often easier said than done.

When I first joined FlowReader, there were two things that slowed me down:

  1. Searching for content to share on our social media profiles.
  2. Researching blog post content.

Even though I knew the content topics I wanted to focus on, my execution was clunky and lacked any clear structure. And as my content needs became more specific to our community, it became harder and harder for me to get everything done in a timely manner.

These two seemingly straight-forward tasks often took me several hours each week to complete, which hurt me in two ways. First of all, it was taking up way too much time. When I’m on the hunt for content, I tend to get sucked into reading everything and finding new sources. Discovering new blogs and websites is a great experience, but you risk getting side-tracked if you do it without a game plan.

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The second was that it made managing my overall workload very difficult. I had a lot of other tasks on my plate besides writing blog posts and managing our social accounts for FlowReader: managing the blogs and accounts for other projects, creating emails for customers, helping out on customer support, writing copy for project websites, and more.

Getting behind on social media and content was a huge setback that affected all areas of my work, and it took me a while to find a balance that suited all my different responsibilities.

So, I sat down and went over my daily routine to figure out what was taking up the most time in my schedule and what I could do to improve it.

Here’s what was wrong with my process:

  • Opening up 50+ bookmarked tabs for relevant sources and manually going through each of them.
  • Reading on websites and getting distracted by other interesting articles.
  • Overloading my inbox with newsletters and Google Alerts.
  • Searching for articles I’d bookmarked to use for a blog post or sharing on social media.

So, how did I change my workflow to make life easier?

The Right Tools Make All the Difference

I’ve found two tools particularly helpful for keeping my search for content as lean as possible: an RSS reader and a “read-it-later” service.

An RSS reader can be a great tool for finding content and managing sources. It’s a simple way to get relevant content sent to you in one place, which you can then easily schedule to share with a couple clicks.

In the beginning, I only had FlowReader subscribed to a few blogs for personal use. It wasn’t until we solved some of our initial launch issues that I truly started experimenting with using FlowReader to make my routine more productive.

And, it transformed my entire workflow.

The biggest change for me was that all my main sources were collected in one location, which cut down on having to search through irrelevant content. Instead of hundreds of open tabs, I could work off of a single page most of the time.

It also lowered my chances of accidentally closing an article and having to go back through my history to try and locate it – a process that could take more than 10 minutes on research heavy days.

Pairing a reader with a service to save articles for later provides you with a simple process for browsing and organizing relevant content that you come across.

To get started, you’ll want to import RSS feeds for websites that are relevant to your industry, niche, or interests. You can then set up categories so they’re easier to check and add interesting sources as you come across them. Organizing your feeds takes some time, but it’s very important. Otherwise, you can end up with a reader that is overloaded and difficult to scan for content.

Once your reader is set up, you can use your read-it-later service a couple of different ways:

  1. Browse your reader and send any interesting articles you would like to read to Pocket, so you can do all your reading at once.
  2. Read articles directly in your reader and send only the ones you would like to share to Pocket.

For example, I browse articles in the morning and send them to Pocket tagged by research topic or social media account. Then, I go through and fully read them at a scheduled time in my day.

Experiment with Your RSS Feeds

You might think that RSS feeds are just for news sites and blogs, but they can be used to pull from other places as well.

The Ning Creators Network put together a great post about different workarounds for getting RSS feeds from the following websites:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Picasa
  • Flickr

Experimenting with your RSS feeds is a wonderful way to explore RSS as a technology and also you pinpoint different points in your schedule where you can save time.

For example, I stopped sending my Google Alerts to my email.

Google Alerts is one of the best ways for finding highly relevant content to your industry or research for blog content, but it was affecting how much time I spent in my inbox each week.

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Having my alerts delivered by RSS feed means I can check them based on my own routine instead of having to go through several emails as they arrive in my inbox.

Create a Personal Database for Inspiration

Well-researched blog content is a very important part of maintaining high quality social media content, but planning and drafting blog posts takes a lot of time.  And it can double if you have to start from scratch every single time you write!

Using FlowReader and Pocket, I’ve started creating a personal database to find inspiration and organize research for my posts. Any time I find an article I think would be relevant or helpful for a future post, I save it and categorize it with tags by topic.

Creating a personal database helps in a few ways:

  • Research is easier and you can produce quality content much faster.
  • You can locate resources quickly using tags.
  • Add relevant blogs for easy access to inspiration and ideas for social media updates and blog posts.

While the set up for this workflow is by no means a one-day job, it’s helped me make my use of time more efficient. The result is that my social media schedule is more balanced and I have more room to spend time on other responsibilities.

Do you have any tips to share about making your social media workflow more efficient?

Share with us in the comments or on Facebook! Facebook. Or, tweet us your tips @flow_reader.

Image Credit: Chris JagersCourtney Dirks