Is Social Media Taking Over Your Life?

How to Make Social Media Participation Routine

For many people, active involvement in social media can become a huge time suck. Stop by your favorite social media platform and suddenly, hours pass in the blink of an eye. Globally, more time per week is spent on social media than on email, according to TNS’s Digital Life.

So, how do you make social media participation manageable?

Accept that you can’t do it all. Consuming social media is like drinking from a fire hose so you must focus on the activities that will yield the maximum benefit for your time.

Establish your social media presence

Before you jump in and establish your presence across the major social media platforms, here are a few of the basics. Depending on your area of expertise, business focus and personal interests, you may want to add targeted social media networks to this list. For example, IT professionals may use ITtoolbox and investors may join SeekingAlpha.

  • Set up a Facebook Profile.
    • Determine whether you want interactions to be personal, business or a mix of  the two.
    • Fill in basic information.
    • Contact some friends.
    • Check the privacy settings since Facebook has the propensity to change these without notice.
  • Start a LinkedIn Profile. Bear in mind that this is your virtual resume.
    • Position yourself for the future. While your titles don’t need to match your business card, this doesn’t give you license to rewrite your career experience.
    • Connect with current and past colleagues.
    • Join one or more groups based on your areas of interest, companies you’ve worked for and schools you’ve attended.
    • Understand that many headhunters use LinkedIn. Decide if you want them to have access to your contacts.
  • Get a Twitter account. If you’re new to Twitter, here’s a primer to help you out. [For insights into how to use Twitter, please follow me @HeidiCohen.]
    • Select some experts and top bloggers in your field, media sites and colleagues to follow.
    • Personalize your Twitter background.
    • Download a Twitter client such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to follow specific conversations, keywords and mentions. Most importantly, you’ll be able to program and schedule your tweets.
  • Register with at least one social bookmarking site. Social media bookmarking sites allow you to store bookmarks in a public place. This helps if you use multiple computers or want to share links with others. Among the choices are, Reddit and StubbleUpon. Decide which site(s) works best for your needs.
  • Use RSS. RSS (aka Really Simple Syndication) is a poor name for a useful information distribution channel. If you don’t have an RSS reader, set one up. I suggest either Google Reader or Yahoo Pipes. Subscribe to feeds from the top bloggers in your niche and the top media sites (I’d be thrilled if you followed my blog via RSS!). To start, here are Daily Digital Marketing news, 16 Digital Data Demons, and 80 Social Media Sources.
  • Set up Google Alerts. Since Google Alerts are one of the most basic and free ways to track the social conversation, set up one or more alerts. Track your own name (unless you’ve got a very common name), your company name, and relevant keywords.

Start a daily routine. Participating in the social media conversation, like any other habit, takes time to become ingrained into your regular activities. Do this early in the day like you would read a traditional print newspaper. The benefit is that looking at this information can alert you to factors that may have an impact on your business, your clients or your personal life. One way to make your usage more efficient is to add mobile versions of social media tools to your smartphone so that you can consume the information on the go.

  • Read RSS feeds. If there’s something worth sharing, either tweet it or add a social bookmark.  Remember you want to share at least seven items a day on Twitter and other platforms.
  • Visit Twitter. It’s a good idea to stop back at lunch time and close of business to see what’s happening and add to the conversation.
    • Respond to direct messages (dm).
    • Check new followers and decide whether to follow back.
    • Add people to follow.
    • Note what’s trending
    • Set up future tweets using a Twitter application.
    • Participate in conversations.
    • Retweet relevant tweets. Also, thank others for retweeting your content.
  • Check Facebook. This can be done daily. Depending on the size and level of activity among your friends, it may be useful to stop by again later in the day.
    • Respond to friend requests, invitations, fan pages and applications.
    • Reply to private messages.
    • Identify new people to friend.
    • Send birthday wishes where appropriate. Everyone likes to be remembered.
    • Post an update daily. Keep it brief and engaging.
    • Review news and determine what to comment on and/or like.
  • Peruse LinkedIn. While many people use LinkedIn less frequently, I suggest checking once a day. It shows you’re on top of things.
    • Update your status with business related information such as new clients, projects, conferences, etc.
    • Answer personal emails.
    • Confirm new contact requests.
    • Look for other colleagues and classmates.
    • Join new groups where appropriate.
    • Answer one relevant Q&A a week.
    • Share useful information.
  • Bookmark information that you want to share or use later.
  • Aim to add at least one blog comment. One of the ways to participate in social media and to build a following is to comment on blogs. Given that fewer people are commenting, you’ll get more attention by doing so. It’s important to get in the habit of participating in the social media ecosystem.

Other weekly social media activities

Here are some other activities that you should do regularly, say once or twice a week. Setting regular times to participate will make this easier.

  • View a few of the videos that are trending on YouTube.
  • Recommend a colleague on LinkedIn.
  • Check Plaxo which is more of an address book.
  • Stop by Slideshare or e-slide to see what’s new in your area of interest.
  • View targeted social media sites related to your expertise or interests.

While active social media participation can become a full time job, for most people, the goal is to be abreast of what’s happening time efficiently. Like reading the old fashioned, daily print newspaper, some days you may only be able to read the headlines.

Do you have any suggestions to add to this list? If so, please add them in the comment section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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Photo credit:  Rick McCharles via Flickr

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