You read every day about the importance of getting involved with Social Media – LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogging…the list can seem endless.
If you haven’t already jumped on the bandwagon, you may be thinking this:
“Who has time for that, with everything else I’m juggling at work?”
It would be easy for an already-swamped leader to feel overwhelmed and avoid it altogether. After all, many people waste precious hours on these websites every day, with nothing to show for it.
In my journey to figure out how to incorporate social media into my work day, I’ve adopted some time-saving strategies that result in a positive ROI for my time and effort.
Decide what kinds of information you want to share and who you want to reach. That sounds like Marketing 101, right? But when you’re clear about your message and your audience, you’ll have clarity about where to invest your time and effort.
For example, the topic of leadership is key in my business, so I read and comment on leadership blogs, I join leadership-focused groups on LinkedIn, and I follow people on Twitter who use the hashtag #leadership in their tweets.
The way to waste minutes or even hours is to constantly check various sites throughout the day. I schedule time first thing in the morning, around lunch, and at the end of the work day to respond to messages.
Knowing up-front what I want to carry out during that time helps me stay focused.
Deliver value, Not Promotion
People who friend or follow you are looking for content that can help them, so they’re turned off by blatant promotions and ads. When you post links to informative blog posts and videos you’ve created, you place yourself as an authority on the topic and as a contributor to the greater community.
Find Ways to Recognize Others
Everyone likes to be acknowledged and appreciated, so when they share something you’ve posted or make a comment on your blog, take time to thank them. In addition to being a demonstration of common courtesy, a basic leadership principle is at work here:
“What gets rewarded gets repeated.”
Taking time to say “thank you” increases the likelihood that someone will share more of your material in the future. On Twitter I’ve been surprised how many people re-tweet a thank-you message that I’ve sent them.
Share Valuable Content From Others
Just as you want to get exposure for your content, thousands of others are involved with Social Media to achieve that same goal. Whenever you read a post or message that has value for you, take time to share it with the members of your community. The people you promote will appreciate your effort and be more likely to reciprocate.
With HootSuite, you can post a message to multiple sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn at the same time, and you can organize people into groups for easy viewing. Some of my groups include Leadership, Personal Development, Coaches/Consultants, and Business Leaders.
Tweet Adder automates several functions, such as finding people to follow according to criteria you specify (e.g., followers of a specific person or people who include a hashtag like #leadership in their tweets) and scheduling multiple tweets for an entire day or week.
There are many other free or low-cost tools you can use to minimize the number of tasks you need to do manually.
I have someone on my staff use Tweet Adder to schedule the quotes and blog posts I select for the week. If you don’t have someone who can assist you like this, there are many virtual assistants who specialize in Social Media to help you. It’s important to consider the best use of your time.
A word of caution:
If you delegate thank-you’s and other interactions with people in your community, you risk losing your “voice.” I’ve read blog posts and received messages that I recognized were not written by the specific individuals (because I know their writing style), and these come across as unauthentic.
Besides, it’s impossible to form relationships with people second-hand.
The Bottom Line
You can form valuable professional and personal relationships using Social Media. There are examples every day of people finding jobs, getting introductions and landing contracts due to connections made on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
You can create a community of fans who happily promote you and your business when you discover how to be a meaningful contributor without taking up your entire work day.
What strategies do you use to make the best use of Social Media? Are there tools that help you automate and leverage your time? Which Social Media sites do you participate in most…and why? What are some of the positive benefits you’ve experienced as a result?
Meredith Bell is President of Performance Support Systems, Inc.
She has online virtual coaching for developing personal strengths & people skills
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Online Coach
Image Sources: static.funnyjunk.com, financialpost.com, static.rbi.com.au
- How Corporations Should Adjust to New Social Media Realities (wordsellinc.com)
- HootSuite Moves into Social Analytics (readwriteweb.com)