Several weeks ago, I revisited the 16 rules for social media optimization. Switching things up, today I thought it would be useful to approach this slightly differently and look at how to optimize time spent in social media.
These tips aren’t necessarily just for brands or companies to follow, rather they may prove even more useful for digital marketing professionals themselves. In the spirit of optimizing your time reading this, I’m going to keep the tips brief and to the point.
1. Aggregate social content about your company, brand or even yourself into a real-time feed using one of the many tools available to do this. Bring the relevant mentions to you instead of always searching for them.
2. Unfollow those who don’t add value or aren’t important to your network. This tip isn’t for a brand or company seeking to make themselves accessible to the world at large, but for you as a marketer personally. How many times have you logged into Twitter, Facebook or FriendFeed – even just after a few hours of being away – and felt totally lost in the conversation. Unless you’re going to devote your life to watching the stream, make sure that who you’re following is actually worth your time.
3. Unsubscribe to all RSS feeds that aren’t unmissable. RSS is the perfect, simple way to keep track of relevant feeds, but over time your reader can become bloated. We’ve all logged into reader and seen Google display the euphemistic “1,000+ unread items” before. This isn’t very fun – so be sure to keep your subscription signal-to-noise ratio positive.
4. Learn to skim. As marketers, there just isn’t time to read everything fully. Learn to skim past the noise and recognize when there are conversations and content worth your time to read carefully. On the flip side, make your own content scanable to entice readers to skim. Done properly, this should increase engagement and draw people in deeper.
5. Establish a set of trusted sites to read frequently. No matter what niche you’re interested in, you absolutely must identify the trusted, valuable sites in that area. Read their content carefully, as in many cases, those at the top are the conversation starters for those in the tail. In other words: Following the leaders can keep you at the forefront of the greater conversation.
6. Audit your time. Calculate how much time you spend daily in different areas of the social web. It adds up, and no one is immune to losing time. Carefully audit just where your time is going and realign efforts to the areas that make a different in achieving objectives.
7. Automate where it makes sense, but do so carefully. Setting up feeds to auto-tweet when you add new content to your blog or share something in Google Reader may make sense. But careful not to automate things like direct messages, something that may irk those on the receiving end.
8. Analyze how people react to the content you create or share. Look at what content archetypes your community reacts to, learn from them, adjust and sharpen as you go forward.
9. Realize there is no information overload. Learn to navigate the unstoppable river of real-time and become a chief signal officer.
10. Become a search ninja. Search really matters to be ultra-successful in social, and knowing all the specific Google operators can help you get to what you need for your marketing efforts fast (such as content creation that requires research).
11. Consolidate your network presence, AKA the Seth Godin strategy. You don’t see him on Twitter. You don’t see him on Facebook. You see him on his blog, and he’s trained us all to go there and subscribe to get content. A diversified presence is not necessarily a better play if your ideas are remarkable.
12. Learn the ebbs and flows of content in a niche and what networks, sites and users matter. Get an understanding of how your corner of the web works, and in time you’ll develop an understanding for how it functions at the macro level.
13. Develop an efficient routine for your time spent in the social web. This will allow you to know how much time each set of tasks and updates take and allow you to become more efficient each day. With that said, as marketers it is also important to understand that we all use the web differently. So if you’re going to do this for efficiency’s sake, continue to explore other tools, trends and options. You can be efficient with your core functions but still experiment.
14. Make your processes simple. No one is going to argue against copy/paste being the best social media tool. There’s a reason for that: It’s dead simple. Make your time spent on social media as a participant and contributor as simple as the idea of copy-pasting content.
15. Use only the essential tools. With a constant slew of new apps being developed, it’s easy for marketers to get shiny new object syndrome. And while you should be trying new things out, you should get to the point you’re only using the tools daily that are essential to your core purposes in the social web.
16. Don’t multitask. If you want to do things like develop killer blog content, you have to turn off Twitter, walk away from email and focus. Social media makes it all too easy to multitask, but the results of your efforts will be sub-par compared to those who focus.
17. Cross-pollinate content sharing. Do things like sharing StumbleUpon or Digg links in Twitter – encourage users from one network to share content in another. Get creative with how you do this and make it subtle or even invisible.
18. Embrace imperfection. Part of social media means, well, being social. And our social interactions are by their very nature imperfect. Some of the best blogs on the planet are hardly perfect, but that’s not what makes them compelling.
19. Eliminate busy work. Identify where the valuable, creative opportunities are that resonate with your key audiences. Now focus there – the rest may be busy work that can be trimmed.
20. Qualitity over quantity – more participation does not trump higher-quality participation. As the social web continues to grow, this will only become more important.
21. Limit distractions. No one is going to deny that social media itself can be a distraction if you aren’t careful with your time. But limiting distractions by following the other tips listed and staying focused can make all the difference at optimizing time spent in the social web.
This is certainly a shortlist, so I’ll turn it over to the readers: What’s your best tip for optimizing time spent in social media?