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This Is Your Brain on Social Media

by Guest Blogger, Lena West, Chief of Social Media Strategy at xynoMediaI'm not sure what goes on in the heads of normal people when it comes to social media and social networking. It's like sanity slips on its axis and they lose all sense of reason.They join every social networking community that launches, accept "friend" requests from people they barely know, all with no visible results or connections. Then they wonder why their social networking efforts aren't worth the megabytes they gobble up.I recently led two webinars called "Take Control of Social Media" and "Social Media & Time Management: 7 Steps to Finding the Time to Engage". View my social media time management slides on slideshare. Here are some of the tips I shared with the attendees: Your 'why'. I talk about this a lot and basically it's tapping into why you want to use social media in the first place. It's simply not good enough to say that you're doing it because your competition is using social media. Social media is simple, but it's not easy. It requires consistency and thought. You're going to need something more than  "everyone else is doing it" when you're trying to come up with content that will wow your readers. Step #1 also helps with step #7.You CAN have it all...just not all at the same time. Resist what I call social media "haystacking", that is adding business-related social media efforts to your already intense workload. Examine what's currently not working in your marketing program and instead of "throwing good time after bad", remove the marketing task that's not netting results and replace it with some sort of social media activity. In other words, don't buy anything new until you first remove something from your existing wardrobe. Use your calendar ruthlessly. I am completely in control of my social media engagement and I use my calendar to help me. I write my content on Mondays and I manage comments, new connection requests and invitations on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Laugh all you want, but it works for me. I stay in the loop without Twittering my head off. Create a short list. Decline social media pursuits that aren't a fit with your goals. It is totally OK to say "no". For example, I get requests every week to connect with someone on some new social networking platform. My response is who cares? If you haven't taken the time to know that I spend my time on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, shame on you. You don't really want to connect with me.Set boundaries. You have to have some rules about how you play the social media game. Mine are: I don't connect with anyone on Facebook whom I don't know personally, however anyone who wants to connect with me on LinkedIn can. I find the content on Facebook a bit more personally-driven and I want to make sure I know who's seeing what (even though I don't reveal all that much). Many times people want to connect on Facebook and I ask them to connect with me via LinkedIn instead. I've been doing this for awhile and only one person didn't take me up on the LinkedIn offer in lieu of Facebook.Leverage software. In keeping with step #3, I make sure that all new connection requests, invitations, blog comments and the like are moved into a folder called "Tuesday" or "Thursday".This way I'm not tempted to "just quickly approve one message" and I don't have a sense of overwhelm when looking at my inbox. Measure. I always say what doesn't get measured gets forgotten. So, I take the time to recall my "why" (from step #1) and weigh in on whether or not that social media effort is fitting the bill. Am I getting the results I wanted? If not, do I try another approach or bail entirely? This step helps to ensure that you're not just being consistent, but also effective.Remember social media is SOCIAL. And, last time I checked, we each set the rules for how we interact with other people. Social media is no different.P.S. To hear more of my social media views:Friday, November 28th @ 10:00am, EST - Guest on Barry Moltz' "Business Insanity" podcast (special announcement will be made!). Listen in.Tuesday, December 2nd @ 1:00pm, EST - The Principal Financial Group "Get Wired into Social Networking" (no fee) teleclass .  Registration info.
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