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How much time should be spent on social media?

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This post is written by Mirna Bard, a blogger, speaker and consultant. She serves as the social media chairwoman of the Orange County (Calif.) chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners, and she teaches social media at the University of California at Irvine.

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: How much time do you spend on social media each day?

  • Not more than 1 hour 21.61%
  • Definitely less than 1 hour 21.36%
  • At least 2-3 hours 20.10%
  • Practically no time 17.59%
  • Too much time 16.08%
  • Not enough time 3.27%

Almost on a daily basis, someone will ask me the burning question: “How much time should be spent on social media?” Clearly, there is no right or wrong answer. But there is no way around the time commitment and dedication that social media requires. If substantial results are expected, then a substantial amount of effort is undoubtedly required.

Naturally, the time requirement is unique to each person and should be aligned with your objectives. If the 20% of respondents who say they spend at two to three hours per day on social media expressed that they were not making progress toward their goals, I would assume one of four things: They don’t have realistic objectives for the time they are spending; they are targeting the wrong audience; they are not appropriately engaging with their audience; or, they are not using the proper social-media platforms or tools.

And if the 21% of respondents who spend practically no time or not enough time mentioned that they were looking for colossal outcomes and criticized social media for being a waste of time, then I think you know what I would say. Most likely, their efforts are not congruent with their objectives.

In either of the above cases, it would be best to reassess what you’re trying to accomplish. You can’t just look at how much time others are spending and think you have to do the same. Regardless of how much time you spend on social media, the time you do spend needs to produce appropriate value.

For example, I spend three to five hours out of my laborious 12- to 15-hour workday performing various social media activities. The time I spend leads to many fruitful conversions, but this exhausting schedule may not work for others. Rather than looking at what I do, the better solution would be to determine the amount of time you’d be willing to dedicate, set realistic objectives, and continuously evaluate and tweak your plan as needed.

How do you determine how much time on social media is right for you? Would you spend more time on social media if you could, or do you think doing so would be a waste?