This post is the first in a multi-part series on Social Media Time Management, intended to supplement the content of the presentation I gave at BlogWorld Expo 2009. Click here to see the collection of posts in the series.
Information overload is real, but it’s something that’s in your control. Managing your time in social media is first and foremost about deciding where to spend your time and why, and that requires a little bit of organization to start with.
What Are You In This For?
If your goal is to be engaged in social media for pleasure or just for personal connections, your approach is rather simple. You’ll choose the tools and sites where you find folks with common interests, and you’ll tuck the time in outside your other responsibilities.
But if you’re in this for business, at least in part, you’re going to need to think through some clearer goals than that.
Here are five sets of questions to ask yourself:
1) Realistically, how many hours do I have to spend in social media each day? Do I have resources/people other than me? What can I expect of them? (Note: if you’re serious about doing social, you need to find an hour a day to start with, at least.)
2) Which 2 or 3 tools and social networks make sense based on my listening efforts? What is my goal for participation on those sites? What is the culture of those communities and how will my participation line up with that?
3) Have we evaluated our current online and offline communication efforts to determine what’s working and what we might supplement or replace with social media? Am I going to need to add this on to my existing responsibilities in order to prove its value before making tradeoffs?
4) Has our leadership bought into this idea already, or am I establishing a presence so I can build a stronger case? Is time I spend on social media going to be viewed as an investment or a time sink? How do I make the case for the former?
5) What does success look like? How about failure? How can I measure both, even simplistically? (Hint: Objectives you can’t measure against are going to be really hard to celebrate or adjust, since you won’t know how you did either way).
These are just a start, and you’ll think of more. But managing your social media presence and time means having a crystal clear idea of what you want out of it. The goals and objectives will help dictate the path and resources you need.
Personal Vs. Professional
You’ll hear lots of takes on this one, but here’s my short answer about whether you should be participating as yourself or as your brand:
The web is a vast, intertwined thing. If you’re participating in social media, you cannot keep your personal stuff from touching your professional stuff, even if you think you’re separating them by imaginary lines. The dots can always be connected, and you’ll do well to keep that in mind for the long term.
For the most part, as connections and colleagues, we don’t draw distinctions between you, the “personal” account and you, the “professional” one. You are you, with many facets. We think of you as a whole person, with many parts.
That said, you *can* create a separate blog, Twitter account, and Facebook page to foster conversation with a business purpose. I’d advise against participating solely as a logo; if you have a central corporate page/account, please let the voices and participants be intensely human and contribute as such. Whenever possible, provide names and faces to go along with the people on your team. Give your community people to associate with your company, and a sense of who they are. Allow them to converse outside rigid messages and corporate topics and be personable and approachable. That is, after all, the point of all of this.
And remember. If you’re using your personal account in hybrid (like I do, and the approach I prefer), whatever you post has a long shelf life. If you don’t want internet content about you personally to reflect on you professionally, keep it off the internet. There are no shortcuts to personal accountability. And good judgment doesn’t come with an owner’s manual.
We’ll cover time allocation for varying social media tasks like listening, responding, content creation, and measurement. Stay tuned tomorrow.
Other questions you’d like to cover about social media time management? Let me know in the comments.