Many people don’t have time to use social networks. They are too busy with emails, phone calls and face to face meetings, in order to get engaged – whether it’s work or fun. This is a major issue for most people who are trying to use social media tools as part of their business tool box.
I’ve went through several phases in my social media activities, starting with first limited steps in social networks such as LinkedIn, moving to the interactive Facebook, and using the hyper-interactive Twitter. Over time I found that I am investing a lot in communicating, on the expense of being the most effective and efficient in my communication and work. One of the causes of this phenomena is the overload social networks and tools are putting on all of us, with multiple updates and feeds.
Also, the amount of my connections affects my communication pattern as I wrote in the past. Therefore, in the recent months I’ve changed my communication pattern to better fit my needs, and support my other activities.
However, social networks and social media in general provide great business benefits if handled correctly.
In a business, I don’t believe that conversation is the most important thing. Efficiency and effectiveness are the goals of every business, in order to successfully compete in the market.
How can you balance between the social media noise, and the hidden value in its tools?
Here are my tips on how to do that. Would love to hear on how you are doing it:
If you are the ADD type, already involved in more networks then you can handle:
- Separate leisure and work – you know that time in day when you are not focused? Sometimes you’ll go to Facebook and check what’s going on there, get into a conversation, read some notes, and just go around the network. It is ok – if you decided that you are willing to invest your free time in having fun in Facebook. Would you do something else that is fun right now, not online, if you had the chance? If the answer is yes, then everything is ok. If the answer is no – read a blog or a newspaper to relax your brain. Social networks, especially Facebook and Twitter, can suck you in and make you loose sense of time. And you don’t want that in on working hours.
- Aggregate feeds from various social networks using Friendfeed or Spokeo – these tools aggregate activities of your connections from different networks in one page. It is very useful, and helps you not only keep in touch with your friends and business contacts, but also find new ones.
- Kick out spammers from your network – yes, sounds logical, but it is not necessarily done in a consistent manner. When someone sends me 6 useless Facebook apps – it is time to say goodbye. After that, there is less communication overload with stupid interactions.
- Understand when you want to communicate and when you want to do something else – A good friend of mine told me once, when I was all over Facebook, that there is a limit to the amount of interaction one wants to be involved in. At the time I thought he was dead wrong, but now I see that it is true. I’d like to interact only part of my day, and in many cases I need the ability to concentrate and reach a goal. Twitter, IM, and Facebook should be closed at these times unless they are used for the same task.
If you are not hooked yet, but understand there is a value in social networks for your work, and you want to be effective and efficient in using them:
- Maintain your social network periodically – once a month, upload your contacts to Linkedin or Facebook and invite relevant people to your circle of contacts. discipline is the secret. You can reduce the effort required by uploading all your contacts to gmail or yahoo mail, and let the networks retrieve the information from there. It takes less time than uploading your address book to each platform separately.
- Embed social networks activity in your work day:
- Update your online address back immediately after you return from a conference. Connect to the guys you met as soon as you can. Size and quality of your networks correlates with the value you will drive from it. Foster it.
- Add your social networks to your bookmarks toolbar so they will be easily accessible. The more you use them, the more they value you get from it.
- Use social networks as source of information – whenever you have a question, don’t just ask google. Ask your network as well. You will be amazed how much high quality information lies in Linkedin and Facebook.
- Spend 10-20 minutes of your work day for social networks updates. Go through Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter every morning to see what’s new and who is talking about what. I am doing it with my morning coffee. Friendfeed and Spokeo can also come handy, but go through the sites themselves once in a while.
- Increase your networks’ value – connect to key people in the industry, thought leaders, experts, key decision makers and so on. The value of network is driven from the aggregated quality of its members, and not only by its size. Invest 30 minutes a week in looking for key people in your network and connect with them. It is worth it.
All those tips are completely irrelevant if you just want to chat with friends. But if you are business oriented user, I hope it would help you to get more value from time spent these social networks.
Thinking About Social Networks Taken by Jeff Pulver