Establish Your Response Time

Digital Cleanse Day 16:

Establish Your Response Time

Establishing your response time is key to a sane digital life. As you’re reading a post in my digital cleanse series, I think its safe to assume you want more calm than chaos.

Let’s say you have four active social media accounts. (Here are links to find me on my top 4 – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.) In addition to posting your own content, you’ll need to reply and follow-up with your friends, fans and followers. In order to do that effectively, you need to have a system for monitoring mentions and replies as well as a firm grasp on your response time.


Everyone has their own preferences for monitoring social accounts. Some keep five active tabs open in a browser. Others use a social media dashboard like Hootsuite. Still others prefer to have mobile apps on their home screen and notifications turned on. (Those folks should read my earlier digital cleanse post – turn off notifications.) Whatever your preference, be consistent about monitoring social media. Schedule time in your calendar if that helps you.

How fast is fast enough?

How fast you reply may depend on whether it’s a personal interaction or a business response.  Personal interactions can happen in your leisure time or during your bus commute. Friends and family understand that  you may be at work and unavailable much of the day. Business responses are different. In some cases, the client expects an instant reply. In other cases, you’ve got a bit of time but how fast is fast enough?

If you respond instantly, you must have a workflow that can tolerate constant interruptions. Is your topic time sensitive? Flight delays and traffic updates are only useful in real time.

If you respond within a few hours, this may be perfectly reasonable to your clients. They know you’re busy working for them (or other clients) and they want you to be focused and doing a great job.

If you respond within a day, I think that’s the outside limit for an acceptable response for business purposes. At least respond within one business day.

If you respond within a week, your client may be glad to hear from you but they won’t feel particularly special or important.  Is that the kind of relationship you want to cultivate?

If you only respond when you remember to check or when you have time or when you feel like it, I suggest you need to rethink being in business. Looking after your customers has to be a priority.

Worst of all is no response at all. How does that make your clients feel? Will they want to do business with you? Of course, not. You are at risk of losing a customer to a competitor.

What’s your response time going to be?

I encourage you to make a decision on your response time and be consistent with it. Fans and followers will grow accustomed to hearing from you in a certain interval. For my own work, I choose to respond within a few hours. Each weekday, I schedule social media time for early morning, just after lunch and evening. At a minimum, I’ll be responding three times a day. Admittedly, weekends response times are less structured as I integrate my work into family time.

Respond to everything?

One last thing. Social media is about conversation and building relationships. It’s about being present and part of what’s happening. Respond to as many people as you can. And know that it’s ok when the conversation fizzles out. Face-to-face conversations do that, too.

More on the 30 day #digitalcleanse tomorrow. Hope to see you then!

(If you missed yesterday’s installment, take a couple extra minutes to explore Banish Reply All. For links to the complete Digital Cleanse series, click here.)