When a hectic family schedule makes it tough to stay connected to the “outside world,” social media can often be a busy parent’s only respite. But with new apps and platforms popping up every day (not to mention constantly refreshing feeds), keeping track of all social media activity can feel equally overwhelming.
Luckily, there are numerous resources designed to streamline your online life — and keep it the enjoyable outlet it’s meant to be.
Here are social media strategist Alaia Williams’ top tips on doing just that:
Share with your inner circle. In the age of TMI, sometimes you want to keep your family news confined to just a select few. Using a free service like Mailchimp can help you create a dedicated email list and send newsletters to only those people. (Here’s a great tutorial on how to do it.) “It’s a great way to send family updates, as well as those annual holiday newsletters, and it saves time and money,” says Williams.
If it’s photos you want to share with select loved ones, consider trying the Tinybeans app. The app enables private, calendar-style sharing of photos, videos, and notes for chronicling kids’ moments and milestones. Technologically challenged relatives won’t have to worry about downloading the app, as it sends automatic email updates that allow for smartphone-free use.
Streamline your efforts. If you get all your news via Twitter, your visual inspiration via Instagram, and your social fix via Facebook, that can add up to a lot of time that most parents just don’t have. Why not check all your feeds in one place with a service like Hootsuite? It’s free for up to three accounts and provides a central place to post/schedule updates—and stay updated.
If reading blogs and watching videos has become a time vacuum, Flipboard provides a different way to compile all the content that catches your eye in one easy place. “It allows you to save your favorites, then flip through the highlights like a digital magazine,” says Williams.
Join the club. For many parents, Facebook groups provide instant gratification in terms of camaraderie, connection, and information gathering. (For instance, I’m a mom-to-be of twins, and my twin mommy groups have been invaluable in learning the ropes!) But again, sometimes it can create too much of a good thing: “Groups are one of the best things about Facebook, but they can get overwhelming if they are very active or you’re in a lot of them,” says Williams.
She recommends using the Facebook Groups app, which allows you to control notifications and consolidate all your groups in one place. “Your favorites will be ‘pinned’ to the top for quick access,” says Williams. She also recommends re-evaluating which groups you belong to every three to six months, as some may no longer be relevant for your life and just take up precious mental space and online real estate.
Cut down on the noise. Incessant notifications are enough to drive anyone batty, so it’s important to get a handle on them. “Minimize all but the most important notifications — otherwise, it can be distracting and steal attention away from the more important matters,” says Williams. Platforms like Facebook make it easy to turn off or cut down on notifications (which comes in especially handy with busy groups or overactive “friends”); here’s a great rundown of how to make that happen.
Finally, don’t feel like you need to join Snapchat or the latest, greatest social media tool just because everyone else is talking about it. “You don’t have to use every platform —just use the ones you enjoy most,” says Williams. “This can alleviate the stress of feeling like you need to be everywhere all the time.”
Jen Jones Donatelli is a Los Angeles-based journalist and author who specializes in all things lifestyle—including digital life. Her work has been published in/on Variety, MSN, Redbook, Livestrong, Every Day Connected and many more.
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