Need a little Social Discipline?

Social media disciplinatrixI follow almost 4,000 people on Twitter, over 1500 on Linkedin, and more on Facebook, Google+, blogs, forums, a zillion social networks, wikis and more. I get around 800 emails a day (half of them are alerts, newsletters and feed reports for my clients). I’m not bragging, there are plenty of people with more, it’s just a fact of my life. How do I manage to do all that every day and still run a full time business? Great question. I don’t. Nobody else does either, at least not by themselves and definitely not every day.

Here’s the big deep dark secret about using social media for business; you’ve got to have discipline. If you get derailed by Farmville for an hour every time you go into Facebook your business may have a problem. If it’s open all day in your browser while you “work” then you may need an intervention.

People tell me 5-6 times a day that they can’t make time for social media. I agree it’s hard, but when you look at how much time it takes to cold-call a customer, visit their office, buy them lunch, walk their dog and take out their trash to get their business it’s nothing.

Think about the literal time it took to get one client to return your calls. Break it down. How many times did you have to contact them before you could talk business? How much aggregate time did it take? Now multiply that by how many individuals you want at the top of your sales funnel this week.

Now look at social media where you can break the ice and get that initial conversation10, 20,100 or thousands at a time. Then you continue to add value to their day every single day with the click of a mouse and a few carefully chosen mentions. To top that off the very people you reach will share your message and value with their own connections and act as your agents to attract new business to you without you even lifting a finger.

So don’t talk to me about how social media takes too much time when it’s really that you aren’t focused in how you’re using it. By this I don’t mean you are constantly pushing out your marketing messaging and talking about business. You know as well as I do that you don’t approach a new client, stick your hand and say “HI, I’m Janet, buy my stuff!”. No, you have to get to know them first. Listen to what matters to them and what they care about, then you can help solve their problem with what you have.

Turn off Twitter
Leaving Twitter open in your browser all day is distracting. Set your mentions and direct messages to send you an alert. I use TweetBot on my phone and it lets me know when I get a message and I can then respond. I open Twitter up 3-4 times a day, scan for new things to share and decide if I’m going to send them now or later. I shoot off a few pertinent Tweets, bookmark some links for later reading and get off.

Scheduling is your friend
I use a combination of tools to schedule my updates and they almost all have a browser bookmarklet so as I surf I can add items to the scheduling tools on the fly. Sure some posts are timely but a lot of them can wait a little while and if you use an app like Buffer you can send that tweet when your network is most likely to be paying attention too. I also use Hootsuite which is good for scheduling a series of tweets for when you may be traveling or getting close to an event you want people to know about.

On Facebook I use a combination of Hootsuite and MediaFeedia. Both tools allow me to monitor and update multiple accounts which is great. Mediafeedia also allows you to send out special offers to your fans and like Hootsuite pro, delegate to others on your team as needed.

Check the mirror
Is your messaging getting derailed by cool cats and hip conversation? Use a tool like NutshellMail to see a summary of your conversations on a regular basis.What do you talk about most? Who are you talking to a lot and who is talking about you? Use what you learn to fine tune your messaging and reach out to connect with people on a deeper level.

You don’t have to do it all yourself. There are lots of task that can be handed to a virtual admin. Moderating forums, replying to basic questions on your social networks, finding new topics for your to comment on or RSS feeds to add to your reader, research on industry information for your blog posts, updating your blog software or finding the right plugins.All of these things and much more can be done by a talented assistant. Heck, you can deliver a pile of information and have an admin split it up into items you can share on your social networks and schedule them for you. These are all things you can outsource and leave the focused personal interaction to you.

Turn off email
I tell my clients to contact me by direct tweets, text, phone and email and in that order. According to many recent surveys email is dead. I won’t go that far but honestly I just don’t read it as often anymore. I only hit my email box 3-4 times per day. I scan for spam and delete it, filter all of my alerts into mailboxes relative to the topics so I can scan and use or delete, and filter all of my clients into boxes so I can scan the boxes quickly and see which businesses are sending me mail and reply quickly.

Get a plan
An organized plan can be a huge help. If you blog create an editorial calendar. If you use microblogs think of a theme for what you want to talk about and schedule some conversation starters. Then fill in the gaps with real-time post to specific people. If you are blogging set aside some time once a month to brainstorm new ideas and if you can, write 2-3 or even more blog posts, then schedule them for release. Better yet, send them to your admin and have him format and schedule them for you.

Stay focused
If you love the games on Facebook, surfing for videos of cute cats or save them for after hours. Your goal is to create relationships and raise the visibility of your business. Keep your eye on the ball and think of never making a cold call again.

Choose your friends
Be thoughtful about who you connect with. The idea of automatically following anybody who follows you on any social media network is a recipe for a clogged private message box full of spam. Even more important, people judge you by who you follow to decide if I want to be associated with you. Set aside a few minutes each week to look at those new followers. Are they truly interesting or after you as a notch on their social media bedpost?

If it’s not working, quit
You don’t have to be on every social media network in the universe. Keep your networks limited to what is truly useful. If a network just doesn’t work for you just move on. Maybe the crowd you want isn’t there or maybe you just hate the interface. Don’t worry, there are plenty more where that came from. I tell clients to pick one network you like. learn it and let your followers tell you where the next network you need to use is. Go where the potential is not where the social media gurus tell you you “gotta be”.

Follow through
Social networks are a tool for business but they do not replace actual conversation. Once you break the ice with social media reach out to the people you’ve connected with. Give them a call. Meet face to face. I can’t tell you how many out of the blue conversations have become fruitful business this way. Go ahead, give it a try! Here’s my number 408.216.7423.

  • fouts
  • Updated January 18, 2012
Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 1 comments
Jennifer Peterson

Common sense and great tools. Nice article. Thanks.


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