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Frittering Your Life Away on Twitter?

While Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can help fuel your marketing and networking efforts, these and similar social media sites can easily become time-sucking quagmires. Avoid the productivity sinkhole by implementing the following tips:

1. Decide how to leverage social media before diving in. Are you building a brand, networking or developing leads? Get to it right away—and leave the sites when you’re done.

2. Focus on a few sites. I prefer LinkedIn for networking, Twitter for quick notes to my followers and Facebook for brand-building.

3. Use timesaving applications. I use HootSuite to postdate entries, and SocialOomph to track key terms. ShortKeys.com helps me post faster with text strings, and RoboForm.com saves me from typing my ID and password every time. I use Microsoft Outlook Rules to auto-file messages with key words in the subject line (e.g., “LinkedIn Digest”) to folders.

4. Limit your activity. Each social media site has its own inbox, so turn off all duplicate alerts to your email and check each site once or twice a day. Control yourself when you are on: Tweeting just an extra 10 minutes per day adds up to 60-plus hours over a year.

When used efficiently, social media can be a great business-building tool, so don’t step into the digital quicksand!

—Laura Stack, personal productivity expert, speaker and author, whose latest book is What To Do When There's Too Much To Do .

It's also important to know how to be a good host online: read "Social Media Manners" on SUCCESS.com.

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