'Advice on how to use Social Media effectively in a way that isn't massively time consuming' was the question on an excellent LinkedIn group 'Social Media for Nonprofit Organizations' (54K members). There are two lessons there immediately, and one quandary. The first lesson is that LinkedIn, after a very slow and cumbersome start, is becoming a lot more useful to ordinary members, partly because some of the group discussions are excellent. The best are niche, such as this one or Translators Worldwide, which has 15.5K members. 'Nothing ever happens in LinkedIn', was a standard complaint but its carefully nurtured image as the 'professional Facebook' drove recruitment. That meant that, until now, it has been mainly of use to recruiters who trawled productively amongst all those hopeful CVs. However, groups are increasingly seen as something which might take LinkedIn mainstream.
The second lesson is that social media does take time. To be even minimally effective in any one channel takes at least three to four hours a week – and that is maintenance level effort. To build a presence from scratch – define goals, identify audience, engage and build following etc – takes a lot more effort. And then there is doing this kind of curation task – gathering material to share with other people, learning from the content we browse or skim and 'feeding the web' (so that it will, as the adage has it, feed us back). Content still rules and creating new content is still an essential part of being effective in social media, even if the originality often lies in selecting from other people's contributions and taking a personal stance (well expressed in the content-aggregation site scoop.it which asks you to, 'add your insight' as you tag and share items of content').
That brings me to the quandary, which I shall share on the group: there have been a lot of useful, practical answers to the question from members. Nothing I have seen so far is new, in the sense of something we don't do or haven't heard before but the crowd-sourcing process, triggered by a simple question, has generated a valuable collection of tips in one place. But because, sensibly, it is a members-only group (though open to anyone who wants to join) simply tweeting about it as I did this morning is frustrating for anyone who comes across my tweet, as a friend pointed out, since the resource is unavailable publcly. However, by gathering some of those tips – curating content – I am potentially exploiting people who contribute freely and voluntarily (even if there are promotional opportunities for those who share on such sites). I think the answer lies in following normal publishing conventions, listing sources of the tips below, but it will be interesting to hear responses from group members when I report what I have done.
Time-effective social media top tips:
- Use a social media dashboard like HootSuite or Tweetdeck to monitor, post and manage and several accounts
- Shareaholic browser extension for Chrome to post relevant content to social networks
- Develop summary podcasts or blogposts and share them widely
- Use Google alerts for keywords relevant to the target audience
- BufferApp as an alternative dashboard for scheduling and getting application specific analytics
- Schedule your time – and set time limits: nicely summarised in this infographic showing a 30 minute daily timeable
- Develop an editorial and content calendar
- Blog regularly (curate content, comment on other content, contribute original pieces) and promote blogs to all social media channels
- Spend an hour each week finding people to follow and pruning your own follower (friend) list
- Limit the networks you're involved in
- Manage notifications (they're always configurable in each network), limiting them to daily or less frequently