By Lara Galloway, The Mom Biz Coach

If you’re reading this post, there’s a good chance you run an internet business or market yourself heavily online. And you probably already know how critical it is for small businesses to use Social Media to increase their visibility, build their credibility and drive traffic to their websites, right?

So much of my business coaching practice runs through the arteries of social networks like Twitter (which I consider “my office”), Facebook and LinkedIn. In fact, about 95% of my new clients first find me on Twitter. I’m evangelistic about the ability to build my brand and connect with my ideal clients using Social Media. But the biggest resistance I get when I suggest my clients do the same is this: “I don’t have enough time.”

I know, I know. Hopping onto the internet, surfing around social networks, and trying to keep up with everything your network is talking about can be an incredible time suck. Some of my clients fear Social Media altogether since they want to avoid “falling into the black hole” that it can be.

How can you be effective and efficient on your social networks? I list five tasks below that teach you the best ways to spend an hour of your time each day on Social Media.

Set yourself up for success.

Stop visiting each of the main networks individually. Use a program that allows you to link your networks together instead. I use Hootsuite to link my Twitter, Facebook (personal and business page) and LinkedIn accounts together. Hootsuite has great video tutorials to teach you how to get started and how to link your social networks together.

Next, create “groups” in Hootsuite to track your most important contacts (groups like "Clients," "Friends," and "VIP" or "Mentors"). When you’re looking for some good information to retweet or share with your network, see what the contacts in these “groups” are saying first. This helps drown out the “noise” that clutters a Twitter timeline when you start getting lots of followers.

Once you’re set up in Hootsuite, do the five tasks below (in order). Each task (except the last one) assumes you’ll spend about 10 minutes on it, so you could do all of your tasks in a one-hour chunk, or you can spread the tasks throughout the day, just 10 minutes or so at a time.

Task #1. Your first priority during your hour is to respond to the people who are talking to you or talking about you (mentioning your @twitttername on Twitter, tagging you on Facebook, etc.). Answer the public messages (@mentions or Wall Posts) as well as the private ones (DMs on Twitter, messages on Facebook, inbox on LinkedIn). Spend 10 minutes.

Task #2. Next, find some good, relevant, high quality or entertaining things to retweet (or share posts on Facebook) from the people you've included in your groups. Keep your brand in mind. Stay professional and relevant to your target audience. Spend 10 minutes.

Task #3. Now, create some original content that helps showcase your expertise: tips, good ideas, a great blog post or podcast you've created. Spend 10 minutes.

Task #4. Find new people to follow who are either part of your target market, who are following your competition, or people you can learn from (either people in your industry or those who teach you what you need to know). Spend 10 minutes.

Task #5. Just surf. You've got 20 minutes left. Go see what your friends, clients, people in your industry, and people you're interested in are talking about. Browse your Twitter timeline, get lost following links that others share, join in conversations on blogs or on Facebook, read the questions people are posting on LinkedIn. Strike up conversations with strangers. This is critical learning and connecting time and allows you to keep your fingers on the pulse of your social networks.

Sound doable? Give me your questions and feedback in the comments below. Let me know where you're getting stuck and I’ll see if I can offer a solution!

The “MBA” for Mompreneurs

Lara Galloway, The Mom Biz Coach and founder of The Mom Biz Academy—The “MBA” for Mompreneurs, is an avid user of Social Media to help build her business. Listed in Forbes “Thirty Women Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter,” Galloway helps women business owners manage their time, their family and their business so they can be successful on their own terms.You can nearly always find her in her Twitter office: @mombizcoach. Learn more about her coaching and mentoring at www.mombizcoach.com, or tune into her weekly radio show at www.blogtalkradio.com/MomBizCoach.