My Favorite Productivity Expert Shares 5 Tips For Using Social Media Effectively


What if you could control your social media usage and even benefit from apps like Facebook and Instagram?

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That’s a question I’ve been asking the last few years, not just while writing this column about social media and releasing a book about habits but also by analyzing my own routines and obsessions. I like Twitter just as much as everyone else, and I recently revealed how that platform has played a major role in my own writing career. I’ve noticed that social media can be a tool for good in the right hands

And yet, why is it that we’re all still so distracted and unproductive? It’s almost always due to social media obsession.

I define good productivity as working hard on the things that matter most, and avoiding the things that cause distraction and create bad habits. Social media might be our worst bad habit, because it’s always available, easy to use, and yet the goal with social media is elusive and hard to pin down.

Recently, I asked a fellow productivity expert Jordan Raynor about how he deals with social media. Raynor is the author of the new book Redeeming Your Time and a popular podcast host. He shared some advice that could help all of us cope with distraction.

1. Delete your favorite app every 24 hours

This is a radical step, but I love the idea. He’s not saying we should permanently delete Instagram, for example, but he takes a big step to avoid over-usage. “I delete and reinstall Instagram from my phone every 24 hours. I download it, do the work I need to do, and then get it off my phone. Otherwise, I will find myself drowning in that infinity pool for the rest of the day,” he says.

2. Stop trying to acquire new customers

I find this one fascinating. Raynor suggests the constant pursuit of a new customer (in his case, a reader or a podcast listener) is a fruitless endeavor. “I don’t think about social media as a means of acquiring a new audience. It’s just become too expensive to do that on most social media platforms. So my team and I have started to view social media as the place where we provide our existing fans with assets (posts, videos, etc.) to easily share with their friends.”

3. Stop trying to get people to buy products

Speaking of finding a new audience, Raynor also says it has become less and less likely that new readers will buy his book from a link on his social media. “[What hasn’t worked is] direct calls-to-action to purchase products—especially on Instagram. There’s just too much friction. Thus, we have started to think of Instagram like podcasting—a tool to deepen relationships with our super fans who we know will click to buy via our email marketing efforts.”

4. Focus on an email list

Interestingly, Raynor says true productivity on social media is likely not even connected to boosting social media at all. It’s tied to your email marketing efforts. People are not on social media so they can buy products directly (despite the fact that Social Commerce is a trend to watch). Raynor says if he could change anything about how he used social media early on, especially with his first books, he would focus on his email list, not on “single sale” book links.

5. Get even more radical

Raynor isn’t one to say we should delete our social media accounts. He did mention that, for some of us, we need to get that radical. He says the important question to ask is how much value social media provides and at what cost? For some of us, if there is too much cost, we should think twice about staying on the platforms. Raynor takes a more moderate approach, but “non-stop noise limits our ability to think, be creative, and be productive in an anxiety-free way.” Some of us need to cut that cord.



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