Getting Focused: Attention Budgeting for Social Media Pros

By Erica Hall

The emergence of social media into the mainstream has undoubtedly been a boon to social media professionals.  More and more, both brick-and-mortar and online start ups have been incorporating social media tools such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, into the day-to-day management of their businesses. As a social media professional, running multiple concurrent client initiatives across a variety of different platforms can be daunting.  How do you budget your time? And how much of that time should be spent on each social touchpoint/platform?

Recently, Chris Brogan’s article “Attention as Currency and Noise” briefly delves in to the concept of attention budgeting, as he explores the value of attention.  As social marketing “pros”,  we are attempting to catch the attention of our target audience in a manner that conveys trust and reaffirms our clients’ brand reputation.  For a busy social media professional it can sometimes be difficult to decide how to effectively manage all of the  “one-to-many” conversations you are having online, which Brogan describes as “where the real value of social media kicks in.”

As with most marketing functions, the first question to ask yourself is “what are my goals?”  Are you trying to grow fans, trying to influence key tastemakers, or trying to drive traffic to your brand’s website? Once you know your goals, you can begin to plan a strategy.  Every brand and every industry will have a different set of problems and solutions.  Since social media affects different industry verticals in different ways, you need to determine an overall social media strategy that works best for each client.

Within that framework you then must decide on a client-by-client basis how much time you should spend on audience development, and on which social platforms to focus your efforts.  Mark Tosczak offers some great ideas on how to determine this for your clients, including focusing on how much content you have, how much time you have to create content, and the importance of taking time to listen, read and interact.  He offers that you should concentrate most of your attention on the “20 percent of tools/sites/strategies that are going to yield 80 percent of your results.”

Once this has been done for each brand I recommend plotting out all your brands and categorizing them by: category/vertical (retail/brick and mortar, CPG, celebrity), goals (brand awareness, fan acquisition, generate UGC), social network (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, etc.) and then assign the amount of time per week associated with accomplishing each goal.  By placing everything in one place you can determine how much of your day and week you allow yourself to be sucked in to the world of social (which for some of us can border on addiction).

Of course, this is just one method of determining how to budget your attention.  I’d love to hear what’s worked for you? Let me know in the comments below.

  • Mark Tosczak

    Great post, Erica. Thanks for the shout out.

    With all of the different platforms and strategies that now fall under the category of “social media” it’s important that marketers really focus on what’s going to work for the client or brand in question.

    In addition to assigning time budgets to different activities, I would also prioritize them. You might have three or four platforms you’re concentrating on for a particular campaign, but if you only have time for one of them some days, make sure you know which one to focus on.

  • ericamichele

    Thanks Mark I had so many great thought after reading your article. I like your points about prioritizing, priorities in our businesses change so often this can be the hardest part!