The best and worst part of social media is that there's never a shortage of things to do. If you frequent Social Media Today, chances are your days are already filled with posting, monitoring and responding to the world your social activity helps create.
It's easy to get wrapped up in the storm of social media, but savvy social media users are deliberate about their engagement. They make a concerted effort to have regular "indoor recess" days, where they step away from the tweet-by-tweet action, and focus on select projects with the promise of longer-term impact.
It's a smart strategy, and one that anyone can emulate. Here are five such rainy day projects that can help you get started.
1. Find Feedly Fodder
Unless you are hilarious, famous or hilarious and famous, the surest path to social media success is being a resource for your followers. In this vein, content discovery is crucial to sustained social media success. Producing content is great too, but not everyone has the time or inclination to write the posts that the whole world reads.
The first step to sharing great content is finding great content. To this end, Feedly is an integral tool in any social media arsenal. As a socially integrated, easily customizable RSS aggregator, Feedly gives users useful tools for finding, organizing and digesting content. It's the best tool I've seen for combing through hundreds of articles and finding sharable content. I'd estimate that more than 70% of my social media activity starts with something I unearth in Feedly.
You should use Feedly every day and also make time every few months to search for new feeds to add to Feedly. Having a regular rotation of sources helps diversify your knowledge and improve your shares. If you read the same three sources all the time your shares will start to feel predictable and stale (nobody likes the guy who only shares BuzzFeed stories).
If you need some help getting started, or are looking for some content to add, here's a screenshot of three of my Feedly sections that consistently yield interesting content (juts type in the outlet title into Feedly and it will find it for you to add).
2. Create a Network Map
In the spirit of more fruitful networking, it's worth making a concerted effort to capitalize on your connections by scheduling in-person meetings when you travel. Whether it's connecting with old friends, or those LinkedIn contacts who you only kind of know, there's rarely a downside to a coffee meeting with someone in your network. This is an opportunity to rekindle dormant relationships, keep yourself on a contact's radar and/or to pick someone else's brain about anything that you're interested in.
The main barrier to such interactions are typically lack of pre-planning and a surprising lack of knowledge of where your contacts physically reside. Carving out two to three hours to make a map of where your contacts live is an effective way to remedy both problems. Most people have 80-90% of their career-oriented contacts in LinkedIn, with the rest on Twitter or maybe Facebook. With this in mind, creating the map is largely about pulling up your LinkedIn network and going contact-by-contact, with some crosschecking of your other social networks at the end.=
There are many different ways to create the actual map, including buying a physical map and using pushpins along with a corresponding key; or creating an Excel document that has major cities in one column, contacts residing in that city in the second column and their contact information in the third column. Any way you go, the point is to have a comprehensive sense of who you know and where they live.
Once you have your map, make sure you refer to it frequently, and keep it in mind any time business travel looms on the horizon.
3. Conduct a Top Tweets Audit
There are plenty of analytics tools that you should regularly use to make sense of your Twitter habits and results. However, these metrics are only as useful as your ability to interpret them. If you aren't a an analytics whiz, then a simpler approach might work better for you.
MyTopTweet.com is an elegant free tool that shows any Twitter handle's top 10 tweets by the number of retweets it generates.
Take an hour to look up your top 10 tweets, and write out the characteristics of these tweets as thoroughly as you can. Things to focus on include: subject-matter, use of images, photos, links, hashtags, @mentions, replies and anything else you can think of.
If you're willing to go the extra mile, look up the top tweets of someone you want to emulate on Twitter and conduct the same exercise of listing key characteristics. In either case, it's a small sample size, so don't weigh yourself down based on what you find, but use the information to make tweaks to your Twitter activity. You'll be encouraged by the results.
4. Quantify Your LinkedIn Profile
Whether you have a job you love or not, it behooves you to build an excellent LinkedIn profile. More often than not, landing your dream job is the result of steady networking over time and not a flash of serendipity.
One of the best uses of your time on LinkedIn is spending 30 minutes every six months to quantify your profile. Everyone makes statements about their accomplishments and value on their resume, but HR departments love the people who go the extra mile and back up their statements with data. This isn't as challenging as it sounds, here are a few examples of simple quantification that lends heft to a LinkedIn profile:
- Spearheaded promotions for a blog launch, which drove 25,000+ views in its first week
- Netted 14 new clients, adding $200,000 in new revenue over 18 months
- Managed a team of six across two continents
Sprinkling a few numbers throughout your profile will make your resume seem substantive and factual. Don't be surprised to have recruiters jump on these points and ask you about them during exploratory calls in the future.
5. Form Your Own Image Library
If you're anything like me, then the token picture is the last and hardest thing to finishing a post. It invariably takes far too long to come up with something only halfway satisfying. The truth is that more time, effort and imagination needs to go to the images we use in our social activity.
I've found that maintaining a personal image library is a good way to improve in this regard. As I scour the Internet, I always have an eye open for images I like; pictures I can envision a use for in the future. Similarly, I've started keeping a list of images that are worth creating for future use. The cameras on our phones and free tools like Canva, make image creation easier than it's ever been. Even with such tools, if you lack visual imagination your best bet is finding a friend with design aptitude and bribing them shamelessly (nachos for a bit of Photoshop, anyone?).
Take a few hours some afternoon to set up your image library (there are tons of ways to set this up--from a Cloud-based option like Evernote to a standard folder set up with Windows Explorer). You'll find yourself growing it steadily over time and turning to it over and over again in the future.