I've been asked to give a talk on social media for journalists later this month. As I ponder the question of how best to apply social media tools to my lifelong profession, I'm coming to realize that it's more an art than a science.
If you listen to the gurus of social media, which I do, you'll already have picked up that Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn and other social media applications are a terrific way to gather and sort information and promote the content or products that you create. Most importantly, social media lets content creators and brands interact directly with their audience and customers.
But if you followed the advice of those gurus, you could spend hours every day reading Twitter feeds, responding to posts on your company's Facebook page and engaging in social media. For me, a one-woman shop with some much-appreciated part-time contributors, it's simply impossible to continue to generate new business, do the work and also engage deeply in social media 100 percent of the time. There are days, or even weeks, when I need to check out. Perhaps I'm traveling, or finishing a time-intensive project, or merely wrestling with a big-idea story or complex problem that demands my entire brain's attention.
So I've developed a few short cuts that help me maintain a social media presence while also keeping my sanity. Call it the ABCs of social media:
Automate the push of content. I use a tool called SocialOomph.com to schedule tweets ahead of time that promote the latest CurrentMom blogs. Sure, the Twitter feed ends up being a few days behind the blog, but I've turned a daily task into a weekly one. I also automatically feed both the CurrentMom blog and my About.com Working Moms site into Facebook fan pages and LinkedIn groups.
Batch my social media reading and posting. Since I know full well that social media is more about listening than talking, I try to promote friends' projects, share interesting information and respond to comments more than I talk about myself. But I do it in batches. Every morning I sit down for a half hour and skim through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. I respond, RT or tag interesting comments for follow up. (And delete spam. Sigh.)
I try to check in again at the end of the day, when I'm not late for child care pickup. I find that much more efficient than leaving my social media windows open all day, where they tempt me to procrastinate and ignore the work piled on my desk. Through Google alerts and SocialOomph.com, I get daily emails that flag any mention of me, CurrentMom or About Working Moms in a blog, news story or Twitter account. I respond to those in batches as well.
Catch up when I can. That said, when I do get a break in the press of work, I enjoy the rare treat of leaving Twitter or Facebook up all day so that I can catch up on friends' and colleagues' feeds and respond in real time, rather than when the alert comes through to my email inbox six hours later. This also reminds me how other people -- for instance, our readers -- experience social media. Inevitably, I discover a new Facebook feature or encounter an idea for a blog post or article. Or perhaps even a new application for managing the onslaught of social media-driven information.
How do you manage the art of social media?
Photo by Webtreats via Flickr