Once you’ve done the homework from Part 1, you need a new routine to start using it. It’s just like making a resolution to work out, buying great new gear and getting a gym membership. At some point you have to start making time to work out or all that stuff is just going to sit around.
I’d suggest either front or back loading your day – meaning you set aside time either in the morning or the evening to do your social media workout. You can try to keep up with it throughout the day – and there’s homework in here for that, too – but having dedicated time to focus on the bulk of the work really helps. You don’t have to do my routine, obviously, but here’s how I do things to give you some ideas.
Rise & Shine – The Internet Kept Going While You Slept!
My days start at 6am now. I force myself to roll out of bed and stumble into the kitchen where I get coffee started. For the next hour and a half I spend time catching up on news in three buckets: national news, professional news and news related to my personal interests (food, duh). Here’s my method for absorbing and disseminating information:
- Turn on Morning Joe. Pick a morning news show, any morning news show, so long as it isn’t the equivalent of a glossy magazine. If you don’t like any TV morning shows, I’d recommend listening to NPR’s Morning Edition. The idea here is that I’ll hear nuggets of info and get a broad idea of what’s trending in the national news scene. It also allows me to give some context to all the other information I’m absorbing. After all, content is nothing without context
- Clear out the Google Reader. This is where taping off that room starts to come in handy! I skim headlines for some feeds, read entire posts/stories from others – but always with a mind for sharing. I like to share a mix of food articles and work-related information on both Twitter and Facebook, and the majority of it comes from my Google Reader. Interesting factoid? Witty headline? Sassy opinion? Beautiful images? All these make for shareable content.
- Check Twitter lists. Remember those lists you’re curating based on topical interests? This is when you’ll be using them. You could skim your whole feed, but if you’re following more than 100 people, it’s a lost cause. Curating lists of people like “food bloggers,” “social influencers,” “reporters and politicos” allow me to hone in on individual topics and dedicate myself to getting caught up on things that are most important to me.
- Skim Facebook/Facebook Lists. I love when brands do Facebook right, but it’s still a largely personal platform. I don’t use lists on Facebook, but probably should. Do as I say, not as I do in this case.
- Skim Pinterest. Looking at Pinterest in the morning is really more about inspiration. Beautiful photos of places, spaces and typography make me happy.
- Secrets Don’t Make Friends. If you know a ton of information but don’t share it, that’s not cool! The point here is to share and become, dare I say, an expert (!) in your chosen topic areas. Sharing puts you at the epicenter of a topic or issue and lets people know, “Hey! I’m plugged in! If you want to know what’s up with XYZ, follow me!” Based on all that skimming, reading and perusing I:
- Use Hootsuite to share what I found on Twitter in both real-time and scheduled posts throughout the day. (You can start off just using Twitter.com, but a tool like Hootsuite/Tweetdeck is nice because you can schedule things to go out at a later time.)
- Keep an Evernote note of links for potential Facebook posts throughout the day or week. (You can use a Word doc, but Evernote is great on the web and the iPhone app. It’s a gateway drug for being the most organized person ever.)
- Keep an Evernote note for links that I want to share in my weekly roundup posts here on my blog.
- Send links to articles and posts to people at work with insights, ideas or a heads up. (This is where you show social media isn’t just a recreational activity.)
- Pin photos and articles to my various boards on Pinterest.
By 7:30am I’ve already caught up on the news via my Google Reader, Twitter lists and Morning Joe and read, saved or shared a ton of links! (No joke, check out my Google Reader stats below.) Maybe you do this at your desk in the morning instead of chatting over coffee with your coworkers, or maybe you do it at night when you get home and are winding down. Like reading the paper or working out, you’ll find your sweet spot, so play around with it!
The Rest Of The Day
Assuming you don’t have the freedom to just stare at blogs and Twitter all day (the horror!), you need a system for a) setting aside time to check in, and b) flagging things to read or go back to later.
Homework: Schedule 15 minute blocks three times a day on your calendar to check in on Facebook, Twitter and your Google Reader. If it’s scheduled, you’ll get a reminder, people won’t try to book you during that time and if your boss or co-workers ever does say anything to you about it, you can show that by setting aside time during the day to look at your feeds, it’s not bleeding into the rest of your work.
Method: I was getting thrown off track by interesting blog posts, losing time by “falling into the internet” as I call it. Now, when I see something I want to read, I send it to Instapaper and save it for later. Similarly, if I see a tweet I want to revisit or an account I want to make sure I follow, I use the “favoriting” option as a bookmark.
If you have time to talk to folks, share a link or read something during your allotted time – great! That 15 minutes is set aside for social media time, just make sure you stick to the time limit.
Maximize Your Commute
Tools You’ll Need: Mobile apps for all the platforms you’re using. Since Google Reader doesn’t have an app, FeeddlerRSS is a good substitute for iPhone/iPad.
If you take public transportation: check in on Twitter and your Twitter lists. Talk to people, RT interesting stuff – this all helps establish you as an “expert” and builds your internet street cred.
If you drive: listen to a podcast. (Oh yeah, remember those? You downloaded a few of ‘em during your homework!)
You’re Not Done Yet
Since I take public transportation, my commute home is spent revisiting those “favorited” tweets and reading what I sent to Instapaper during the day. I share links, or save it for tomorrow (by using Evernote or scheduling tweets on Hootsuite). Inevitably though, as much as I try to set aside quiet time sans social media, I do one last check in on everything before I go to bed. You folks who drive will want to set aside some time in the evening (or in the morning when you’re catching up on all your feeds) to clear out Instapaper and favorited tweets, otherwise it gets to be so much stuff to read you end up avoiding it.
I realize that setting up a somewhat rigid system for using social media feels counterintuitive or even restrictive – but the point is to establish a habit. Maybe you enjoy it all so much it takes over your life (like it practically has mine!) or maybe not. Maybe you end up being that girl in the meeting who knows all the right information!
When people say they’re overwhelmed, putting a system in place makes it manageable. When people say they don’t have time, it’s just patently false, and this is how I show them they can integrate social media into their lives. Now, I’d love to hear about your favorite tools and ways to manage social media. Dump it all down there, in the comments! Because!?…sharing is caring! (I’m so cheesy today, but whatever.)