How do you find the time for social media? Whether you’ve been asked this question or asking it yourself, this post is for you. When looking at our goals and our resources, time–as we all know–is one of our most precious resources.
Managing Social Media
There are tools that can help you more efficiently use social media. However, be aware, that the use of 3rd party tools has been found to decrease engagement on social media by 70%. That said, there are three main tools that will help you get the most out of your social media use:
- To Listen… RSS Reader: If you follow a variety of online news sources and blogs, you can create your own online digital library. The most popular tools to use in doing this is creating an RSS reader. Google reader is an easy choice, however, some people also prefer iGoogle, Alltop or Netvibes to create their own custom experience.
- To Learn… Bookmarking: Not only can you create your own online library, you can also create your own online database of resources, articles and Web pages that you want to have for reference. Most tools let you tag and categorize your saved content based on your preferences and sorting needs. Some popular tools include Scoop.It, del.icio.us, and diigo.
- To Engage… Content Platform: To get the most out of social media, there will come a time where you will want/need your own publishing platform. Whether you create a blog or use your Facebook profile, having a way you can share your voice online will help make a difference. Some content platforms to possibly consider include Tumblr, Posterous or Twitter.
Time Management Tips and Tricks
Once you get in the groove, you’ll find that you’ll want to spend more time using social media than you might actually have. You can help manage this by avoiding the following actions:
- Limit the number of blog subscriptions you have. In your RSS reader, create a “must-read” folder where you place the feeds of the blogs you find most interesting and helpful. You can switch which blogs you have in this folder around as time goes on, but this way you have a “go-to” folder when you have time to catch up on some reading.
- Know you don’t have to read everything. Train your eyes to scan and organize content to help you do so.
- Be choosy. You don’t have to use every social media tool or channel–and you don’t have to join every online community. Choose which one(s) help you be the most effective with your time.
- Avoid the auto-message. It’ll be tempting, and you think it’ll save you time and energy. BUT, it could cost you more in the long run. At the very least, balance auto-messaging with real-time updates.
- Remember rule 6. The key to remembering rule six, is knowing that there isn’t one and that the best way to use social media is to do what works for you. This will include an element of learning–you don’t need to do it perfectly. And, you don’t have to do it all.
For more information, Beth Kanter recently shared “7 Tips to Help You Focus in an Age of Distraction” for those who are starting to feel information overload.
Consider Opportunity Costs
Perhaps a question to ask now, is not whether or not you have the time–but more along the lines of, “What do I lose if I don’t participate in or utilize social media?” You may miss out on opportunities to connect with individuals who share your mission, knowing about breaking news that impacts your work, identifying local partners and sponsors, and the ability to galvanize and empower advocates.