After much deliberation, I’ve determined that it’s completely feasible to add microblogging as part of your day-to-day task, particularly when having to work through a ‘typical day at the office’.
Feasible (and applicable) within the following context:
- you are employed (or are self-employed) with a full-time job that takes up a great deal of your time, and
- that a ‘typical day at the office’ means some form of corporate work (or at least organizational work involving an online component) where you’re tasked with a ton of diverse responsibilities.
Now what if you were in an environment where your eight tentacles are not encouraged to juggle more balls in the air and the general direction of your strategy is…well, pretty much general and essentially non-directional? And to make matters worse, your org has just slashed budgets and cocooned their strategic behinds within a cost-containment ‘ride-it-out’ policy. What then?
Or what if you were in an environment where you are in fact mandated to explore social media, determine what the buzz is all about, make recommendations, etc. on top of what you are already juggling? No vendor assistance allowed. What then?
Obviously, either way, you’re not about to get left behind. You’ll want to get your eighth tentacle dirty or grow a ninth one to keep up with the social media revolution.
Besides, how much more time can one additional task take away from your already overflowing plate, right?
Well, in my case, it seemed awfully straightforward at first, until the Twitterverse basically ate me up. It was like coming across a singularity that tore open a fabric in spacetime, leaving me suddenly sleepless and fatigued after two weeks.
I needed to find a balance that allowed me to be part of the social media realm while still being able to use my other seven or eight arms during the daily grind.
So what does it take? Here are some personal observations and practices, which have so far helped me stay the course:
Manage time realistically
Regulate both your professional and personal shcedule. As with most things in life, plan for when you need to microblog. Yes, NEED to microblog. Because you get social media and are not compelled to justify why it works and how it evolves so rapidly, you do need to be part of it.
If you are holding down a full-time job, have a family to tend, or are single and have pets and/or significant others, etc. then BUILD the time to be on Twitter and use those blocks of time productively.
For instance, try to take advantage of evenings and week-ends to do the bulk of your meaningful microblogging, paying close attention to your key areas of interest. This way, come work week, you’d be in a position to divide your time into three parts: early morning scan, lunch hour catch-up and a quick check at day’s end.
Keep a pulse on the Twitterverse
If you catch wind of something really breaking and useful, make sure you have an active web session of Twitter running in the background.
Most corporate environments are hypersensitive to security issues and do not permit downloads of executable files so apps like TweetDeck or DestroyTwitter will likely not be an icon on your desktop. But this shouldn’t prevent you from keeping a pulse on what information is circulating out there.
Focus on your area of expertise..efficiently
After your first few weeks of tweeting, you begin to gather nuggets of information that shape your interests. Keep your focus in areas where you have genuine expertise and are able to provide insight in a constructive way. Also, be systematic with HOW you tweet.
Recently, I’ve the tendency to first scroll back to most recent tweets, scan key posts, read the linked blogs, etc. before actually reviewing my regular feeds and tweeting my face off about any ‘ole random topic. Not that there’s anything wrong with being random with chirping an answer to “what are you doing”.
However, when you focus on being consistent with the themes you post—the themes which represent what your interests are and what you hope to learn—you are more likely to be taken seriously. Besides, you don’t really have that much time to be distracted. Much.
Be a selective ‘follower’
Clamouring to break the 1,000 mark on a list of followers has not always proven to be an effective approach. I came across a telling blog that exposes the fallacy behind the ‘strength in numbers’ perception some view as part of a popularity game that drives people to Twitter.
Since social media is, among other things, characterized by the rapid, ubiquitous flow of information, one may be tempted to assume that the need for aggregation and accumulation are indicative of social media success.
But even if you do get to a point where you’ve layered social media as a tool within your org, how will you successfully get 5,000 or so followers to collaborate in a focused and coordinated manner?
Be selective. Many will auto-follow you. Take the time to check out their tweets and bios and ask yourself: “What will this person bring to the table for me? Do their interests complement mine? Are they even in the same playing field? Wave length?” The more thought you give on whom you choose to follow, the more manageable and organized your contacts will be: an ideal recipe or productive collaboration.
Pay attention to the experts
I wouldn’t be attempting this first blog if it weren’t for inspiration drawn from a number of social media experts I’ve followed to date.
While the majority of these thinkers and shakers find their respective niches in the realms of corporate, PR, marketing/communications and IT, each one offers invaluable, practical insights into the same questions I’ve been mulling over throughout this remarkable communications renaissance.
Learn from the guides you follow. Those who make a living in social media deserve the work that needs to be done. So the minute that cocoon opens up and you are given the choice to invest in a marketing resource, think of these people.
It’s not a matter of how and when social media will be integrated into a business process. The question you need to ask yourself is “will I be prepared to use it?”