Social media marketing overload is a constant occupational hazard for the solo entrepreneur. True, everyone sometimes gets bouts of FOMO when they see yet another sun-kissed vacation photo from their old high school friend.

But for someone who makes their living selling their handmade products online, FOMO becomes FOMOS—Fear Of Missing Out on Sales. Am I Tweeting enough to keep my shop from going under? Why is nobody re-pinning my Pins?

Sound anything like the inside of your head at 2am?

Well, let’s take a deep breath, close all our other browser tabs, put our phones on silent, and keep reading to find out how to control your social media anxiety and prevent social media marketing overload.

The first and most important lesson to internalize is that you are in control. Facebook isn’t in control. Neither is Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or Snapchat. Social media is just one of the tools you use to market your business, and you get to decide how to engage with it.

Preventing Social Media Marketing Overload Tip #1: Keep it Contained

Think of all the things you do every day that are part of your job. Can you do them all at once? Can you do all of them all of the time? Wait, I’ll answer that: Nope! Guess what? Social media is no different.

The social media marketing you do for your business is part of your job. You have the power to contain it with scheduling. Try this: Set aside half an hour every morning to check your accounts, respond to comments/likes/etc., and post something. And then forget about it for the rest of the day.

But you might say, what if I miss something really important? Well the truth is this:

It’s impossible to keep up with everything on every social network.

And if you dare to try, that itself is a full-time job or ten. You’ve got a business to run and products to make, too! So remember tip #2:

Preventing Social Media Marketing Overload Tip #2: Keep it Focused

You know who your ideal customer is, right (if you don’t, well, take a look over here)? So you know where those customers spend their time on social media and what they talk about. Now, take all your social media activity and focus it like a freakin’ laser beam where your customers are most active.

Your customers might be on many social networks, but that doesn’t mean you need to be. Pick the social networks with the best signal-to-noise ratio and ignore the rest.

If your tweets are getting 10x the click-throughs as your Facebook posts, don’t be afraid to cut back on Facebook.

If your Instagram posts are getting lost in an avalanche of similar content, stake out some unique turf on Pinterest with boards that are hyper-targeted on your ideal customers’ interests.

You aren’t trying to be all things to everybody with the products that you’re making, so don’t feel that you need to be engaging with everyone everywhere online.

Preventing Social Media Marketing Overload Tip #3: Keep it Organized

Nobody running a handmade business has the time to surf the internet all day finding interesting things to share on social media. Instead, think like a magazine editor and come up with an editorial calendar. Think strategically: what do you have coming up on your business’s calendar, and what can you do to promote it on social media?

Keep a notebook, either online or on paper, of topics, articles, and images that would be a good fit for your social media marketing so you have them at your fingertips when it’s time to make a schedule of posts.

That way, instead of casting about for something witty to say every time you post on Twitter, you’ll have something already queued up and ready to go.

Preventing Social Media Marketing Overload Tip #4: Keep it Automated

Limiting your social media marketing time to a half hour or so a day is a good start. But limiting it to an hour a week would be even better, right?

You can do just that with Facebook and Twitter’s scheduling tools. If you want to get more advanced, take a look at Buffer or Hootsuite. They let you post to multiple social network accounts from one place, and most importantly, they let you schedule your future posts. Pair that feature with a Social Media Marketing Calendar, and you can stack up a week’s worth of posts in an hour or so, and then not have to worry about it until the next week.

Buffer and Hootsuite both offer free plans. Of course, they’re not perfect: Buffer doesn’t connect to Instagram and makes you upgrade to a paid plan to connect to Pinterest. Hootsuite doesn’t connect to Pinterest at all, but they do connect to Instagram. Finally, there are rumors that Facebook restricts the reach of posts made by third-party services though I’ve never seen firm confirmation of this. I wouldn’t let it change my mind if I decided Buffer or Hootsuite was the best tool for my needs.

Finally, if you’re using WordPress there’s the multi-purpose Jetpack plugin that, among many other useful functions, will automatically post links to your blog posts to social networks when you publish them. It’s free but doesn’t work with Pinterest or Instagram.

Since those are two of the most important social networks for Artists and Makers, you might want to consider upgrading to a plugin like SNAP Pro that, for $49 a year, will connect your blog to any social network and automatically share your blog posts to all your social media accounts. Getting it set up takes some technical knowledge but once it’s working it’s like magic.

Preventing Social Media Marketing Overload Tip #5: Stay Away

This is the only sure-fire way to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed by social media marketing: don’t do it at all.

I know, it sounds like suicide for your businesses. But social media marketing isn’t the be-all and end-all of online marketing. All the social networks have the same drawbacks: you are fighting against lots of competing voices, and you don’t have very much control over who sees what you post.

You can do everything right with your images and hashtags only to have Twitter or Instagram or whoever change their ranking algorithm one morning and bury your posts.

Your insurance against that is publishing valuable content on a website on a platform that you control, and a healthy and growing email list full of loyal and enthusiastic customers. But that’s a topic for another article—this one’s gotten long enough.

What are Your Strategies for Preventing Social Media Marketing Overload?

Got a tip I didn’t share? I’d love to hear about itand tell me how you keep yourself from getting overloaded.

Photo credit: DncnH via Flickr. CC BY 2.0