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DJ Waldow, Loren McDonald, Cassie Witt, and a few others asked the interesting question yesterday:

“Are the growing demands of social media/networks weighing you down? At some point (I think) you have to choose those you get the most juice out of. What’s your take?”

Here’s my take. Again, same disclaimer as my post the other day on content sharing: this is not “the right way” or a “best practice”. This is only how I handle it based on my limited time available each day and peculiar workflow. You should test and analyze for yourself.

I take a page out of airline travel and aim for the hub and spoke model. I pick a few major places as my networks of choice where I’ll participate, listen, and share. These are the hub cities where you can get a flight to just about anywhere the airline goes. I’ve got presences on other networks but I don’t jump in as much there, minor destinations that you have to fly through a hub to get to. And there are a whole bunch of networks where I just don’t even show up at all, places where the airline just doesn’t go.

How do I make this determination? In what should be no surprise to anyone, I look at my data. Here’s how. Fire up Google Analytics or the web stats software of your choice and look at the last 90 days. If you’re in GA, look at the Social Traffic Sources report.

Social Sources - Google Analytics

In here you’ll find all of the major social networks that Google Analytics is tracking. Let’s look at the network and make some choices. On any given day, a social network can consume as much time as you let it, up to and including your entire day. That’s not optimal, obviously, so you want to slap some restrictions on it. Let’s say you allot 15 minutes to post, reply, and connect/explore per network. Decide how many networks you can afford to spend 15 minutes a day on, then choose those from the top of your list. In this example, we’ll say you can afford to spend up to an hour of your day being social.

Social Sources - Google Analytics

The report indicates that I should spend my limited time on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. So far, so good. I should set up profiles on StumbleUpon, paper.li, Instapaper, and Diigo. The other sites, maybe set up a profile, maybe not.

So far, so good. I know where to spend my time as of right now. Like an airline (a properly run one, anyways) considering service to new cities, I should consider looking at the rest of the list. So once per month or once per quarter, find one of your top 10 most compelling pieces of content:

Pages - Google Analytics

Then go to each of the social networks that is not currently a hub and post that content there if appropriate. For example, none of these blog posts is a particularly good fit for Flickr. Then in the week after that test posting, look at the week’s data to see if any of those tests took off and drove traffic enough to bump into a new bracket. That represents possible opportunity:

Social Sources - Google Analytics

That’s how I keep up with social networks and still stay on a strict time budget. It’s only one person’s methodology, however, so I would encourage you to come up with your own, share your own, and gather up ideas for how other people manage their social networks.

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