Shelby Spears by Shelby Spears

As a health and exercise professional, social media can often be a catch 22, as you try to balance the negatives and the positives.

For example, you’ve likely heard and maybe warned your clients about the potential negative effects of too much screen time, including increased risk of depression, anxiety, stress, low self-esteem and poor moods. You may even coach your clients to limit time on their phones to help improve everything from mental health to quality of sleep.

But you also know that social media is, at least in part, a critical component of any health and exercise business. It’s a low-cost and easy way to market to and communicate with current and prospective clients.

While you may not be able to cut social media out completely, this article outlines how you can spend a lot less time on social media marketing while still achieving the same, if not better, impact. And in the process, you may find that your own mental health and productivity improves, making you more successful than you would be spending hours liking, commenting, tweeting and posting.

Limit Your Time on Social Media

The average person will spend about five years of his or her life on social media, according to data compiled by the marketing agency Mediakix. The key to getting some of that time back is to set boundaries for yourself.

  • Schedule your social media time the same way you schedule every other part of your work day, including appointments with clients or meetings with colleagues. Set aside an hour every Monday, for example, to create all your social graphics and categorize your photos for the week.
  • Turn off notifications on your phone. That thrill that you get from seeing a little red notification keeps you going back to your phone and getting looped into the social media cycle. You want to be timely when responding to inquiries, but you also don’t want to be checking your accounts every 5 minutes. It can be hard to measure how much time you’re actually spending on social media, so setting a timer or using apps that track your phone usage can give you a more objective picture. As an added bonus, longer-term clients will often step in and answer questions or give feedback before you have to—and in doing so they help build or reinforce the strength of your community.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Limiting your time on social media is effective for you and your mental health, but to achieve your professional goals, efficiency is the key.

  • Schedule your posts. Go back to your weekly schedule and on the days and times you set aside for social media, schedule posts at least a week in advance. Facebook allows you to set a date and time for when your post goes live. Your audience doesn’t miss out and you don’t have to spend hours posting on multiple platforms every day. For other social media, such as Twitter, third-party apps such as Hootsuite will allow you to schedule posts from multiple accounts.
  • Make all your graphics at once. Social media is an image-centric world and your posts will only stand out with photos, graphics, videos and more. But these can be the most time-consuming tasks. It may be tempting to make a graphic on the fly or take a photo and post it instantly, but you’ll save a considerable amount of time and energy by creating these in advance. You can also save time by using apps and programs such as Canva, which features free templates for social media, email, blogs and more.
  • Keep videos short and sweet. Videos and images draw a lot of attention on social media, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend hours editing. Create short clips instead of long, heavily edited narratives or use an app such as Boomerang for a fun mini video.
  • Save everything. Do you keep running across articles that would be great to share or from which to pull quotes for your social media, but you don’t have the time to read or harvest them now? Use web clippers such as Pocket or Evernote or the Favorites section of your Bookmarks on your web browser to save for later. Many of these apps have tagging and categorization that makes it easy to find what you need when it’s time to create social media posts.
  • Reuse and repurpose old content and use the same content on multiple platforms. If you are on multiple platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, don’t be afraid to use the same content for all. Your followers on each likely vary and this ensures your message reaches everyone without redoing the work for each social media account. You may need to tweak some things for specific platforms, but you’ll save time sharing the same thing. You can also reuse old content such as blog posts that are evergreen or a throwback photo.

Let It Go

One last word of advice: If you find it nearly impossible to resist opening that social app on your phone, consider deleting it. You can still do everything on your computer and you’ll likely spend less time scrolling if it’s not as convenient.