Tonight I had great plans for a productive Sunday evening. We spent the first part of the evening at Crossing Church for a rockin' worship and message, sweet treat at Baskin Robbins and then headed home and put kids to bed. It was just me, the laptop and hubby with the remote.
As I settled in for a few minutes on #BlogChat, the big plans of a productive night on social media inclusive of a new blog post slipped away into never never, never tweet land.
As I Google +'d stumbled, Triberred, Twittered and Pinterested... time escaped, my night and almost this blog post escaped right with it. Thank goodness for @LiivLee who recommended that I write a post about such or you wouldn't be reading this.
Anyway, as I tweeted, posted, planned tweetups, meetups, tweetchats, answered questions, networked with folks across the globe it reminded me why I love social media so much. It wasn't time wasted and it's definitely not the first or last time it will happen. I'm considering writing off Sunday nights to any productive online work and instead fully embrace the social aspect of it.
Anyone who follows me knows I believe plans are required, not optional when it comes to social media for business. I also believe that "being social" is a requirement for success in social media. Yet "being social" all by itself won't bring real results. You must have a plan that includes objectives, goals, and knowing your audience. A plan to inspire and connect with your audience, and of course build a conversion funnel to monetize it at some point (if that's your goal.)
Chances are slim that you can simply grab a Twitter account, setup a Facebook page and spend every day tweeting out randomness and see results unless there is a method to your social madness.
At the same time, you need to go with the flow. You may set aside 30 minutes in an afternoon to "be social," yet you may find that your community of followers and fans are busy doing other things.
On the other hand, you may have big plans like I did this evening to write blog posts, and catch up on other work. On these days or nights you may feel like the whole world is being social and you are being left out.
So what is a social tweeting, Facebooking, Googling, Pinteresting, Linking addict to do? How do you know when to tweet, blog, pin, post, talk, chat or turn off all of the above and hang with your in real life friends and family?
Here are 21 tips to help you manage time and balance the many different roles and responsibilities you have as a business leader and social media addict. Please add your tips and thoughts in the comments!
21 Tips to Balance Social Media Engagement, Addiction with Real Work
1. There is only one way to do social media and that is the way that works for YOU and your business. My opinion is it all goes back to YOUR plan. Only you know your objectives, goals, audience, and what it is going to take to inspire and connect with your community. On some days your community may need information that educates. Other days they may need friendship, advice or advocacy. The key is to know your community, get in their head and connect with them!
2. Have a plan. The only way to social sanity combined with results is to establish a solid plan which integrates with your business. It must include goals, objectives, a plan to inspire and engage your audience, conversion funnels, content plans and more. I don't have time to dive deep on this topic for this post. If you need help check my numerous other posts.
3. Acknowledge that "being social" by itself is not going to enable you to quit your day job or retire to the Bahamas this year. Yes, you must engage as a real human being. Give without expecting anything in return. However, without a plan you are destined for many wasted cycles and little real benefit in regard to brand awareness, community building, achievement of business goals and objectives or return on investment overall.
4. Know your community. Know your audience of partners, clients, prospects, evangelists, friends and colleagues. Get in their heads. What do they want to know, do, hear, talk about? How can you help them meet their business goals? How can you bring value to their life? The better you know your audience and community the easier you can connect with them with less time spent. When you know them then there can be benefits to even a short five or ten minute session on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn!
5. Don't over think everything. If you spend too much time over thinking everything you do and every minute you spend in social media you could be wasting what little time you have to actually engage and be social.
6. The heart of social media is people. At the heart of social media are people. People that laugh, tweet, post, sing, post tweets, share good, share bad and are looking for real people to do all of the above with. Take time to embrace the people, their minds and hearts. You can never go wrong investing in real people.
7. Have your ears open more than your fingers typin'! Listen more than you talk. Join a tweet chat, use a social media listening tool, logon to Twitter or Facebook for 30 minutes and say nothin' at least one a week! I dare ya'!
8. Do the five minute twitter follower mood test. If you are an avid tweeter this tip can do wonders for maximizing your tweet time! I can usually tell within 5-10 minutes at the tweet deck how engaged my followers are and what they are in the mood for.
I will often times tweet a quote, link to quality content, and a simple coversational or question style tweet. Within just a couple minutes I can tell what kind of mood they are in. I look for retweets, comments and subscriptions to our newsletters. I may try another or send a conversational yet inspirational style tweet. I'll watch close to how they respond, what content they are responding to, etc. Often times it is obvious if they are in a business mood and want serious data, tips or other types of content. I'll test a variety of content based upon what I have available and what is available and being shared across the web.
Note, this all ties back to plan, knowledge of my audience etc. Many people probably think I am just a crazy tweeting marketing nut. Yup, I am a crazy marketing nut. However, few know that I really do have a method to the madness. Well at least on most days that is!
9. Go with the flow. Be flexible. Be dynamic. As I explain above, if you take the time to know your audience, do the 5 minute tweet test, and listen more than you type, then going with the flow will become quite easy. There are some days you have no choice but to throw out the rigid plan and dig in to the heart of the people of social media.
10. Don't throw out the plans, goals and objectives. At the same time I tell you in #9 to go with the flow, it's also important you don't forget your plan. You must not forget the reasons why you are engaging, leveraging social in the first place. Be careful of the consultants and agencies that tell you just to engage, tweet and post and not worry about the details. It's perfectly alright to go with the flow and throw out the plan for an hour or two here and there. It's not alright to do it all the time.
11. Create an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar filled with content that will help you inspire and connect with people in a way that will help you meet business goals has multiple benefits. It will help keep you on track and maximize the time spent simply being social. It helps provide context to your tweets, inspiration to your audience and build relationships that run deep and wide.
12. Use time blocks. If you struggle with controlling your time enjoyed (or wasted) on social media then set time blocks for engaging, writing blog posts and other tactics. I started setting solid time blocks each day for engaging in social media with no objective but to "engage" in early 2011. Doing such has had tremendous benefits on my personal enjoyment in social as well as business results.
13. Art before science in social media. The learning of the needed tech will come. Knowing the basics is plenty for most people just getting started. Relationships are the life raft to enduring technology evolution and change. If you have an engaged community sitting on the edge of your every tweet or blog post, it doesn't matter what happens to Facebook or Twitter. When the tools and tech evolve, your community will be going right there with you! Embrace the art of inspiring, connecting and engaging with real people.
14. Increase efficiency with tools. At the same time that you focus on the art of social, you also can't completely forget the tools and tech. Make sure you are taking time to research, select and use the right tools that will help bring efficiency to your efforts in social media. Some of my favorite tools include TweetDeck, Hootsuite, TweetChat, my iPhone and iPad, Evernote for writing blog posts and ideas on the go and numerous other programs. Experiment and find what works for you.
15. Don't be afraid to ask for the sale or send a link to your blog. During a long or even short block of engagement on the social networks don't be afraid to sprinkle in a couple tweets that bring folks back to your home base blog or website. However, make sure your tweet fits within the context of the conversation and of course adds value to your community.
16. Don't spend too much time comparing yourself to others. We all had a first tweet, first Facebook post and blog article published. Even if I have tweeted thousands of time more than you, it doesn't make me any better person than you. It simply means I hopped on Twitter before you did. If you spend all your time comparing yourself to others, you'll miss the point of engaging with people who want to speak to, hear from and learn from you. Even if you have only been on Twitter for 30 days, I guarantee there are people who are just hopping on Twitter today and want to learn from you.
17. Don't forget the in real life (IRL) friends, family and community. Don't forget about the people in your life who you see, touch, walk by, meet or live life with you every day. They need your dedicated time, attention and focus too. You need them too even if that crazy blue bird is whistling your name!
18. Blend all of the above. The goal is not to have a separate online and offline life. The real ROI comes when all of these activities start to blend together. When real life friends become online friends, when online friends become offline friends. When tweets turn into friendships, business partners and even clients.
19. Remember what really matters in life. There may be days where the kids are screaming, the dog needs food, hubby is out of town, laundry needs done and your favorite worship service starts at 7:00 pm. You know the chances of you getting all of the above completed before midnight are zero. For days like this find time saving tricks, tools and a pen to cross something off the list.
An example is my church has the most rockin' first Wednesday service each month. It never fails every life matter gets in the way on these days. So what do I do? I jump on their online platform, hook up the service live to my laptop and big screen TV, turn off the lights and have the kids in bed before 9pm et! Then by the time I am done I am no longer worried about the laundry or the blog post. God has a way of reminding me of what matters and the fact I got to hug my kids for 1.5 hours while we jammed and listened to an awesome life message on the couch is good enough for me!
20. Social media is real life. Even though there are some people that still tweet behind the logo or behind double personality and duo Twitter profiles, the truth is most people are honest. There is only one you so be that person. The more you can be you, the better you are going to connect with others who are also being them. Make it a goal to take relationships offline, to find business partners and service providers who can help your business go zoom.
21. Breathe! As one of my favorite tweeters and best friends on and offline, @JessicaNorthey always says, "breathe!" We must take time in life to breathe. If we don't breathe and have fun then what's it all for anyway? At the end of the day if you are engaging with real people, building relationships, tweeting about life's ups, downs and happenings, then it should be enjoyable. A session at the tweet deck shouldn't feel like a root canal. Embrace the people aspect. Embrace the learning. Embrace the heart of social and the people in it.
Heartbeat of Social Media Series
This blog post is part of a new series titled "The Heartbeat of Social Media". It include a deep look at how communities work, what people are doing within them and how businesses can better understand how they can fit in, provide value and derive benefit as both a business as well as individual people.
Subscribe to the series for updates and access to special videos, webinar training and more. Would love to hear your input and have you participate in discussions and debates as we challenge each other to be part of what makes the social network heartbeat healthy and alive in 2012!
I'll be hosting a free "Facebook for Business" as well as "Rock Your Blog" webinar with focus on social media optimization which will deep dive into some of the topics discussed in this post. Subscribe to the series for updates and early invitations.