Yes, you can spend significantly more time in your social channels – chatting with friends, meeting new people, learning new things. But you can also stay active and reap the benefits of online networking and engagement with just 15 minutes a day of your time.
The trick is to use that time more efficiently, and focus your activity in three places: 1) create, 2) curate, and 3) engage.
Add new value to the social Web. This includes posting links to your new blog posts, updates on your product strategy or life, or other recently-discovered or uncovered nuggets of information that your network will find interesting. I recommend setting these up to stagger out or go out automatically. For example, use dlvr.it to automatically syndicate new blog posts from your RSS feed to a designated set of social channels (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, even Foursquare).
Add links to content you find elsewhere on the Web. Attribute it back to the originator, either via a retweet or by adding “via @theirname” at the end of your short post. If you choose to find and publish multiple such curated articles at once, use a service such as timely.is to automatically publish and throttle this content throughout the day, based on the # of daily posts you specify as well as a determination (by timely’s algorithms) of when exactly each day your posts are most likely to get noticed, read, retweeted, discussed, etc.
Scan through the posts of others in your network, and respond where appropriate. If they write back and you don’t get to their comment until the next morning or later that afternoon, it’s not a big deal. Better to stay engaged in a few hours than spend chunks of your entire day checking and checking (and not getting real work done).
With practice, I bet you can get this done in 15 minutes a day.