Question: How many times have you checked Facebook today?
If it’s a pretty high number, you have a social media problem.
Or do you?
(Insert shattered glass sound.)
Most people who spend their day browsing Twitter or checking Instagram aren’t doing it to boost their careers—they’re just waiting for the next post rating some cute puppy (OK, you caught me, I’m just talking about myself here). If that’s you, you should probably focus on your actual work a little more often.
But others do a little bit of both. They check to see what their friends are doing, but they also check how their recent campaign is performing, or look out for any big trends that they can use as data for their next project, or follow certain influencers in their space.
Here’s how to know if you should cut down your social media time or if what you’re doing is A-OK.
You’re an Addict if: You Check Your Social Media Accounts Just Because
If you’re refreshing your browser every few minutes or find yourself logging onto Facebook in meetings (rather than actually paying attention), you’re addicted and need to rein it in.
Try allotting yourself two times a day when you can check everything, and then blocking them with an app for the rest of the day (or, at least physically putting your phone away somewhere so it’s out of sight, out of mind). This ensures you can still stay on top of industry trends without getting sucked into the hole of Tasty videos and funny memes.
You’re a Pro if: You Check Your Accounts for Work-Related Reasons
However, if you’re checking because you have an end game in mind—your company is hosting a campaign and you want to see how it’s performing, or you’re an HR rep on the look-out for LinkedIn hires—that’s obviously OK. Just make sure the times you’re logging in are actually contributing to your productivity, not distracting from it.
You’re an Addict if: You Post Constantly
Besides the fact that it makes you look like you spend all your time on social media, posting way too often can actually make you lose followers.
One way to ensure you’re posting just the right amount is to follow this schedule, courtesy of Brand and Marketing Strategist Alex Honeysett:
Facebook: 1-2 times a day
Twitter: 4-7 times a day
Instagram: 1-4 times a day
You’re a Pro if: You Post Strategically
That said, if you’re posting more than this, but for good reason (say, you’re contributing to an industry Twitter chat or are promoting a new company product you’re really excited about), you’re doing just fine. However, if you want to maintain your stellar online reputation, it’s best to balance out the busy days with days where you don’t post at all.
Keep them wanting more, ya know?
You’re an Addict if: You Comment on Everything
You know your Aunt Denise who clogs up your notifications because she comments on every photo of you with a paragraph about how beautiful you are? Don’t be an Aunt Denise.
Before you decide to comment and retweet everything you see (I know, it’s just all so fun!), make sure your contribution’s actually adding to the conversation or providing some new insight. Otherwise, throw them a like and move on.
You’re a Pro if: You Comment on Things That Accentuate Your Brand
Like I said, your comments should be adding value, not annoying people. But it’s also important that the things you weigh in on are also making you look good.
I’m not talking about telling your friend “Congrats!” on her engagement photo—I’m talking about contributing in ways that are in line with the kind of brand or expertise you want to portray online.
Maybe this means discussing an article about a breaking news story in your field. Or commenting on a colleagues’ new job status to ask them how it’s going. Or giving your advice to a job seeker who’s asking for industry tips.
Social media experts know that everything they say online can (and will) be used against them—so they only leave a paper trail they’re proud of.
Obviously, social media isn’t just for work. But if you’re going to be on it in the office, you better be using it for those purposes, or at least thinking about how it’s affecting your career. Otherwise, it’s best to save the endless scrolling for when you’re on the train home.
Previously an editor for The Muse, Alyse is proud to prove that yes, English majors can change the world. She’s written almost 500 articles for The Muse on anything from productivity tips to cover letters to bad bosses to cool career changers, many of which have been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, Inc., CNBC's Make It, USA Today College, Lifehacker, Mashable, and more. She calls many places home, including Illinois where she grew up and the small town of Hamilton where she attended Colgate University, but she was born to be a New Yorker. In addition to being an avid writer and reader, Alyse loves to dance, both professionally and while waiting for the subway.More from this Author