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How much time should social engagment take?

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

Last week’s poll question: In an average week, how much time do you spend on social media?

  • Between 1 and 5 hours — 36.84%
  • Between 5 and 10 hours — 24.56%
  • More than 10 hours — 20.70%
  • Less than 1 hour — 17.89%

One of the biggest concerns many executives have regarding social media is the time it takes to manage social engagement. It’s a real issue, because our time is the greatest single investment most of us have to make. Thanks to automation, some of the manual labor is reduced, but not everything can be automated, nor should it be. Social media is an interpersonal medium that demands personal interaction. There is no way around it.

Since that’s the case, we have to determine whether the time is worth the effort in terms of those things that matter. The reality is, we can spend no more time than we have, so we had better maximize our time’s value.

More and more, I am coming to the conclusion that my personal efforts have to be rewarded with some type of conversion, whether that comes in the form of a sales lead, newsletter or RSS feed subscription, or even just more attention from those with whom I’m attempting to connect.

Conversation must lead to conversion if social media is to matter in the long run. Otherwise, I’ve got better ways to spend my time.

Paul Chaney is an social-media marketing consultant, sought-after speaker and author of “The Digital Handshake: Seven Proven Strategies to Grow Your Business Using Social Media,” published by Wiley. Paul sits on the advisory boards for the Modern Media Man Summit and Women’s Wisdom Network.