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Top 10 Tips for Social Media Time Management

August 17, 2012

Introduction

Whether you use social media for work, pleasure, personal branding or all of the above, one of the trickier questions is, “How do I manage my time on social media?” Like New York, social media is the “city that never sleeps” and there seems to be a new social network emerging every week. So how do you keep up? Consider these ten tips.

1) Understand that you have a fixed amount of time.

Time (in the day) is a zero sum game, at least for those of us who require sleep. The 20 minutes I spend fixing the kitchen sink is 20 minutes I won’t have to do something else. So think of your social media activities as a continual give and take. Give the effort that you’re comfortable with, but don’t let it take over your life.

2) Let automated tools assist you.

On social media, you can find a tool (or app) for just about anything. A good number of tools are absolutely free, while others are paid (or freemium) tools. The Next Web published an excellent list of “50 (mostly) free social media tools you can’t live without in 2012.”

One tool that I like to use is Buffer, which allows me to schedule certain tweets at specific times. If I have an article to share late one night (on the West Coast of the U.S.), it won’t be seen on the East Coast, as most everyone has gone to bed. So I’ll use Buffer to schedule it to be posted (automatically) the next morning.

3) Know what you’re good at.

Figure out what you’re good at, along with what you enjoy the most (they’re very often one and the same). Then, schedule your activities such that you’re focusing 60% (or more) of your time on that very thing. My primary focus is Twitter. Other social networks may come and go, but I’ve enjoyed Twitter the most. And that’s where I spend most of my social media time.

4) Get into a routine.

Just like the morning coffee, the afternoon walk or the after-dinner dish cleaning, social media is incorporated into my daily routine. I have social media with my morning coffee, in fact. As I’m checking the morning headlines, I’ll tweet some interesting articles. As I see what’s written about my favorite sports teams, I’ll check whether any images are worth pinning on Pinterest.

5) Find the right blend.

Don’t stick to one sort of activity (e.g. tweeting links). Find a good blend of activities, which include publishing, sharing and interacting. Jenise Fryatt (@JeniseFryatt) coined the term “EIR” (Engage, Inform, Retweet) and routinely lists (and thanks) Twitter users with the hash tag #EIR.

When I started with Twitter, my activities were all about publishing. These days, I find roughly 25% of my tweets are interactions (e.g. at replies, retweets, etc.).

6) Use social networks’ mobile apps.

On my iPhone, I’ve downloaded mobile apps for Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest (to name a few). The mobile apps have been tremendous for time efficiency.

Now, when I’m stuck on a 30 minute security line at the airport, that’s 25 minutes I get to check in with friends on Facebook, see what’s happening on Twitter, etc. (the other 5 minutes is consumed by fumbling for my driver’s license and untying my shoe laces).

7) Use email notifications to alert you.

While some have declared a death to email (partially due to social networks), I find it to be the “glue” that connects all of your social media activities. In particular, email is great for notifying you to take action.

For instance, I get an email when someone mentions me on Twitter. I can read the details (in the email) and if I’m on mobile, I can tweet back to the user right away. Similarly, I receive emails when someone comments on my Google+ post, so I know to reply back when I get a chance.

8) Spend 15% of your time experimenting.

Craft a 15% budget towards R&D (or, trying out new things). When Google+ first came out, I didn’t jump on board right away. But when I did, I spent a good chunk of my time on it, to learn about Circles, Hangouts and more. While Twitter rules the roost for me, that may not be the case forever. And it’s this experimentation that may identify whatever comes next.

9) Use aggregation and recommendation services.

The best example I can give is Summify – their service is so neat that they were recently acquired by Twitter. Summify creates a “daily summary of the most relevant news from your social networks.” In a given hour, you may have 7,000 tweets in your stream. You need to skim through a lot of text to find content that interests you.

Summify finds the particularly popular links that people you’re following have shared. It’s now incorporated into the daily email (sent by Twitter). The recommendations are so good that I click on more than half of the links.

Related services include LinkedIn Today and Twitter Stories.

10) Take a break.

You shouldn’t be on social media all the time. It may be hard to do, but allocate periods of time where you go completely offline. Trust me, you’ll enjoy the break and you’ll return with a fresh perspective on things. I took a break from social media to go camping – and it was fabulous.

Conclusion

So in closing, I’ll reiterate a few of the key points:

  1. Find what you’re good at (and enjoy) and spend most of your time doing it.
  2. Technology (tools, emails, aggregation services) will aid in time efficiency.
  3. Find the right blend of publishing, sharing and interacting.
  4. Use email notifications to alert you to take action.
  5. Take a break and go offline.

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .

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From Virtual Events To Virtual Business Communities

May 31, 2010

Increasingly, virtual event planners are keeping their virtual events “open” year-round.  The model is evolving from a focus on the annual live event to a focus on the overall business environment, which has live events scheduled throughout the year.

Hence the progression – first, the virtual environment is kept open year-round (“Come in, we’re open”).  From there, virtual event planners become virtual community managers to evolve the environment into an active and engaged community.

Your virtual business community is quite similar to a social network (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc.).  Thus, look to those social networks for effective community building and networking tactics.

Content

“Traditional” content forms the foundation of your business community: on-demand webcasts, videos, documents, articles, etc.  That being said “non-traditional” content is what makes a community shine and prosper – it includes other members and their associated user-generated content (e.g. 1:1 and group chat, message boards, blogs and old-fashioned community discussion).

Users may be drawn into your community for the professionally produced content – what makes them stay, however, are the connections with other members and the business conversations that unfold.

Draw them in – with Email

Some community sites (e.g. Facebook) are fortunate enough to have members login as their first stop on the web each day – today, it’s not likely that a virtual business community can achieve the same loyalty.  The key, then, is to provide community members with reasons to return, login and participate.

Email may be considered old fashioned by some, but it still works.  Want proof?   Look no further than Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, which all use email effectively to notify members of activity and bring members back into the community.  Examples:

  1. Facebook – I receive email when a Facebook friend has commented on my Wall posting – additionally, when I submit a comment on a friend’s posting, I receive email when subsequent comments are posted.
  2. Twitter – I receive email when new users follow me on Twitter; in addition, when a user sends me a “direct message” (DM), I receive an email with the text of the DM.
  3. LinkedIn – When I comment on a LinkedIn Discussion thread (in a LinkedIn Group), I can opt in to receive email notifications on subsequent comments posted.  This way, I’m instantly notified as other group members comment on my comment, with the email containing the text of the submitted comment.

For your virtual business community, utilize similar email notifications to alert members of new activity and draw them back in to the environment.

Once they’re in, keep them Engaged

Now that you’ve successfully drawn members into the community, keep them active and engaged.  Build tools like the Facebook Status Bar:

The Notification component of the status bar is an area that I check each time I login to Facebook – I want to know who’s “liked” my comment, picture, video or link – and what they wrote about it.

Notifications keeps you engaged once you’re in – and can even serve to draw you there (in the first place).  I occasionally login to Facebook solely to check for new Notifications!

Mobile Integration – Draw them in, from their device

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, etc. provide a variety of mobile apps, developed by the companies themselves and by third party developers.  With mobile apps and mobile clients, members can stay constantly connected to their social networks and communities – they can always stay “in touch”, literally and figuratively.

With a virtual business community, mobile integration does not need to be about 3D spaces, multimedia or immersiveness – things we often associate with virtual events and virtual worlds.  Some day, we may be able to experience full immersiveness on a mobile device.  But in a business community, it’s more about user-to-user connections at a more basic level – e.g. the likes of Twitter @replies and Facebook wall discussions.

Conclusion

Our industry still centers around the occasion-based virtual event – as event planners begin to morph into event-based community managers, they’ll need to map out tools and technologies to keep their communities active, engaged and coming back.  Should be a fun ride.

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To Promote Your Physical Or Virtual Event, Think Outside The Inbox

November 21, 2009

Source: flickr (User: Mzelle Biscotte)

For many, email is a constant stream, an endless loop – we receive too much of it, both “important” emails addressed directly to us and marketing emails that are sent as a result of opting in (or not) to past content, webinars, white papers and marketing lists.  Outbound, push-based email promotions face the following challenges:

  1. Imperfect delivery rates (mail server outages, spam filters, etc.)
  2. Decreasing open rates
  3. Perception of spam – if recipients don’t remember opting in to your list (even though they did), they’ll ignore your email – or, opt out from your list
  4. List fatigue due to overuse of marketing lists
  5. Decreasing click-thru rates (CTR) – once you’ve made it past delivery and open, recipients are clicking less on your embedded offers

Adding to this mix is the fact that many users now interact with brands (and by extension, promotional offers from brands) via their social networks, instead of email.  A user is more inclined to respond to an @reply or direct message (on Twitter) compared to a conventional email blast from a marketer.

Given all this, it surprises me that email is still a primary vehicle for promoting physical and virtual events.  Event marketers have much to gain by thinking outside the inbox.

Social media and social sharing

Your first step outside the inbox should be in the direction of social networks.  Build a presence in social communities and you’ll find that you naturally generate interest and awareness to your event.  Previously, I wrote about leveraging Twitter to promote your virtual event.  As Ian McGonnigal (GPJ) astutely pointed out, those same tactics apply quite well to physical events as well.

In addition to Twitter, consider the following:

Create a LinkedIn Event entry for your event

  1. Create a LinkedIn Event for your event – a LinkedIn Event page allows you to post relevant information about your event on LinkedIn (e.g. date, event content, etc.) – LinkedIn members can then indicate whether they’ll be attending, not attending or “interested”.  This can be quite useful, as folks often attend events based on knowing whom else will be attending.  By creating a LinkedIn Event, you’ll receive the benefit of having LinkedIn auto-recommend your event to other members, assuming their profile is a “match” with the profile of your event.  Members may also utilize search and find your event.  More info can be found on the LinkedIn blog page announcing the Event feature.
  2. Post videos to YouTube – it’s the #2 search engine after all (behind parent Google), so having event videos posted on the site will generate traffic from the millions of folks who visit YouTube.com each day.  Record videos of your host, keynote speaker, group publisher, etc. talking about your upcoming event – if your keynote speaker has a prominent name, your videos will attract interest from users who search on that name.  When you have a critical mass of videos, create a YouTube channel.  About.com has a neat guide on how to do just that.
  3. Create a Facebook Fan page for your event – with a fan page, you’ll generate interest for your upcoming event – and, you’ll build an ongoing community that you’ll be able to continuously leverage!  The All Facebook blog has a nice guide on how to build a Facebook fan page.
  4. Leverage blogs – author a blog posting on your corporate blog – or, if you don’t have one, ask a relevant industry blog site whether you can author a guest posting.  Alternatively, leave a comment on postings from relevant industry blogs with a pointer (link) to your event.  The key here is not to over-promote your event – your first goal is to provide useful and relevant content/commentary with your event being a secondary (and subtle) mention.

SEO and in-bound links

If you pay attention to search engine optimization (SEO), your event page(s) will receive “organic” traffic – that is, traffic that finds you, rather than you finding the traffic (i.e. the “pull” from users searching, rather than the “push” from your email promotions).  Think about the search keywords that you’d want to associate with your event [e.g. when users are performing searches] and make sure the content on your event page is rich in those keywords.

To increase the page rank of your event page, increase the number of inbound links that point to your page.  A few simple ideas:

  1. For all of your social media efforts (listed above), make sure they provide links to your event page – shazam, you’ve just created a number of inbound links
  2. For event staff (especially those with large followings on Twitter), ask them to temporarily point the “web site” URL in their Twitter profile to the event page
  3. Ask partners, associates, even clients to post a URL from their web site(s) to your event page
  4. Add a “Share on Facebook” capability on your event page – this may result in page rank benefit as search engines begin to index Facebook wall posts – until then, what this really does is generate awareness and outreach of your event to users’ Facebook friends.  If a potential attendee visits your event page and shares the page with her 100 Facebook friends, then you’ve just received 100 free advertising impressions

Advertise

Some affordable options to consider:

  1. Facebook advertising – purchase targeted ads on Facebook.  For a physical event, you can target by geography (e.g. starting with users who are geographically close to your event site).  For a virtual event, geography is less important, so you may want to target based on attributes in the users’ Facebook profiles.  You can pay per view (of the ad) or per click (on the ad), so the terms are flexible.  eHow has a good overview on Facebook advertising.
  2. Content syndication – purchase web syndication with online publishers in your industry – get your event listed in their directories, content sites, etc.  They may charge you per click or per lead (completed registration).  Not only can this generate registrants for your event, but it also improves your page rank by generating more inbound links to your event page.

Hopefully I’ve covered a few “outside the inbox” options for you to consider – certainly continue to promote your event via email – however, use some of these options to lighten the load a bit on your email marketing lists.


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