86: 7 Valuable Social Media Shortcuts
Posted on: July 21, 2011 /
The most common response to my social media articles and seminars usually goes like this: “I should probably get my business on Facebook, but it’s finding the time I struggle with,” or “I can barely keep up with my Facebook. I don’t know how you find time to be on Twitter.”
Granted, I’m a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram junkie. I can easily feed my addiction, seeing as my office is a flight of stairs below my living room; and my bedroom at night typically alternates between the glow of one or more of two laptops and two iPhones.
You, however, don’t need to earn an invitation to the social media wing of the Betty Ford Clinic to improve your personal or business brand on Facebook and Twitter. Here are seven free or cheap ways to keep your time commitment to a minimum, while connecting with prospects, clients, and peers in these environments. The first shortcut will make your distribution more efficient and practical; the next six shortcuts will help you more easily develop a constant stream of material to reinforce your expert brand.
What if I told you you could do all of your social media posts for a week or month all at one time and in one place? You can! With HootSuite, you can pre-schedule Facebook and Twitter posts, even those with links or pictures. The free version of HootSuite will allow you to choose from up to five different Twitter accounts, Facebook profiles, and/or Facebook pages on which to post. If you post both for your business and for yourself, this tool is invaluable; and it makes it easier not to accidentally post a personal post in your business’ stream and vice versa.
If you don’t want to keep HootSuite open in your web browser, you can install a free browser button that will open a small HootSuite window already loaded with the URL of the page you’re wanting to share—which you can schedule for later, if you’d like. Both Android and iPhone have a HootSuite app, so that you can post (or schedule one for later) in any or all of those same five destinations right from your phone.
Every few weeks, I spend 30 to 90 minutes on an evening or weekend, setting up tweets and status updates to post during work hours. This frees me to work on billable projects (and meet deadlines) during the times of weekdays when people are most likely to check their social streams—rather than on weekends, when people are less likely to interact with the content. This is important, because content in Twitter and Facebook streams has a shelf life measured in minutes or hours; so, you want your content to hit in prime viewing times.
SmartBrief is a free clearinghouse of salient current news, sifted by interests and industries. Here’s how SmartBrief describes itself: “We deliver need-to-know news in 100+ e-mail newsletters to 4 mil[ion]+ readers. We read everything. You get what matters.” You can register to receive any single one or any number of their newsletters, each of which is delivered daily with a series of headlines and brief overviews of the top stories along a particular topic.
Most blogs, humor sites, and news sources now make their content subscribable via RSS feed. If you’re not familiar with RSS, it’s a tool that aggregates stories from as many websites as you choose into one place for reading. It saves you time, and you don’t have remind yourself to check each respective site to see what’s new. I use Google Reader as my RSS reader—the place where all these posts collect.
Don’t have time to check your RSS feed on your computer? Quickly access it on your smart phone. Free or cheap apps like MobileRSS enable you to scroll through the headlines and blog titles from your RSS feed, much like you would scroll through Twitter or Facebook posts—right from your mobile device.
This free service by Google allows you to receive email updates every week or every day with new pages on the Internet that mention terms of your choosing. I regularly implement these for the weeks or months before writing articles or building seminars. You can plug in words or word combinations related to your industry, asset specialty, or news trend. Think of it as Googling something once but getting new Google search results emailed to you for as long as you’d like. If you don’t want these results pouring into your email inbox, you can also set them to collect in your RSS feed.
One of the many perks of carrying an American Express charge card is their OPEN Forum articles, delivered via email. These articles are written by and for entrepreneurs and small business executives, exclusively for American Express customers. Don’t have a Centurion in your wallet? No problem. They post links on their Twitter stream to similar articles aggregated from other online sources.
I still subscribe to a couple handfuls of print magazines, even magazines I follow on Twitter and Facebook. Fast Company and Wired are gold mines of sharable content. If you’re going to subscribe to magazines, go through wholesale distributors like Magazines.com. You’ll save enough money to literally multiply the number of magazines you can get for the same price. I also like Magazine.com’s clearinghouse of free magazines and newsletters, where I’ve gotten free subscriptions to magazines like Exhibitor. I regularly cut out pages from my magazines for articles I want to post later on Facebook and/or Twitter. (Usually, magazines will post the content from the current print issue on their respective websites after the next print issue distributes—sometimes sooner.)
In an interview with Hemispheres Magazine, Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter, said, “I would describe [Twitter] as a personalized news service. It gives up-to-date information on whatever you care about that’s happening in the world.” Twitter’s become that “personalized news service” for me. I ended my subscription to our local newspaper, and I couldn’t’ tell you what’s on the evening television news. Instead, I follow Lynchburg’s The News & Advance and various national and international news sources on Twitter.
For one thing, I save a lot of time by engaging with only the content that interests me—on my time table. Secondly, it’s easier to share the stories with people who might also be interested in them. As with Facebook, you can sort your Twitter stream into categories (called “lists”), if you want to see only certain groups of people/entities you follow at a given time. So, if you want to see updates only from family and friends or only from other people in your industry or only from news sources, that’s easy to do.
There are two halves to social media: sharing and interacting. While you can’t schedule your likes, comments, and other responses in advance, you can simplify the manner in which you collect and distribute the content you want to share. By uploading more than status updates, you can show your audience that you are a source—or at least a distributor—of engaging knowledge. Then, when you share updates about your business, these posts will have more credence and smell less like spam.
You do have time for online social networking, if you use your time wisely.
Martin Luther is quoted as saying, “Work, work, from morning until late at night. In fact, I have so much to do that I shall have to spend the first three hours in prayer.” In other words, he was not too busy to spend time with God. On the contrary, he saw his busyness as reason to spend more time with God.
For various reasons, I really struggle to spend meaningful time alone with God, when I’ve got a lot on my plate and even when I don’t. My spiritual pathway is nature, and I have to get out into the wild to disconnect from the things that interfere with my connection with him. Some of the moments I’ve felt closest to my Creator have come where cell phones have no bars.
How ’bout you? Where and when and how do you feel closest to God? Maybe reading books or watching videos about him and his work. Maybe singing or dancing or soaking in others doing those things. Maybe absorbing podcasts, conferences, or retreats from gifted Bible teachers. Maybe serving people or participating in a cause. Maybe journaling or speaking to him out loud in a quiet place.
Whatever makes God feel closer to you and you to him, build and prioritize that into your life. Nurture it.
As for me, tomorrow I’ll be spending my second straight Friday night sleeping on top of a mountain under his stars.
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