Unsuckifying Social Media

Long time readers will know I’m a technophile with a growing practical streak. I used to treat the un-boxing of a new tech toy with the reverence of a Japanese tea ceremony, reading the manual from cover to cover. These days? I haven’t the time or patience. It needs to work without wasting my time.

If you feel the same, then you likely haven’t embraced social media. You make fun of twitterheads and facepukes. After all, what value could there possibly be in all these inane tweets about explosive bathroom breaks, fascinating laundry events, and feelings?

After much urging from my personal social media guru, Derrek Cooper, I’ve finally worked out a useful relationship with social media. Social media is here to stay, and I’m convinced there is both business and personal value in participating. Good use of these new platforms will help you make professional connections that could land you new jobs and customer referrals. They can also be the fastest, most effective way for you to research a new topic or stay informed about your current field. We all have a past, and most of us start losing all connection to that past after about 20 years. Social media can help you stay in touch with your former friends and self.

If you’re willing to take the plunge, I suggest you sign up for these 4 free services:

Here are the rules I’ve developed to use these tools effectively:

Rule #1: Do not obsessively use any of them.
Rule #2: If you are reading Facebook at 2am, see rule #1.

Facebook
This is your connection to the past. You will quickly reconnect with all sorts of high school and college buddies. If used correctly, you will get a much richer understanding of your old buds than has ever been possible. I have been fascinated to see where everyone landed in life. There are many interesting surprises. Also, spending a little time reconnecting with these folks has helped me to clear some of the fog away from my own history. That kind of self reflection and examination has proven healthy.

Crucial tip: Immediately hide and/or block the thousands of applications like Mafia Wars and Farm Town. These are useless games built on top of the Facebook platform. They waste massive amounts of time, but more importantly generate mountains of “Timeline” trash. Until I learned that these could be blocked, Facebook was useless to me.

LinkedIn
This is for business and professional connections. Increasingly, it is also the 1st stop for companies looking to hire. Your profile on LinkedIn is essentially your resume in the 21st century. LinkedIn includes a wonderful facility to reach out to friends of friends. This is old school networking on steroids. Your friend has to give the OK to your referral request, so quality control is built into the system.

Crucial tip: Start today. Write down every colleague or customer you’ve ever had a meaningful relationship with. Invite them all to join your LinkedIn network. As each of them accepts, look through their connections to jog your memory. If you see more people you know, send them an invite. Going forward, invite every customer (real relationship required!) and colleague to your network.

Twitter
Twitter can be a great source of up-to-the-second tips and news. It can also bombard you with important updates like “I’m bored.” and “I’m getting hungry.” I gave Twitter a shot early this year and gave up in the first 30 days. Hootsuite and brutal selectivity finally made Twitter useful for me.

Crucial tip #1:Quickly unfollow people with more than 20% total tweets of zero value.

Crucial tip #2: Use the “Lists” features to group the people you are following. I have a “VIT” (Very Important Tweets) list which gets special attention. I also have a list for the Twitter feeds of my most important customers (both individuals and corporate PR accounts).

Hootsuite
This magic tool ties everything together. Think of it as a central repository and cockpit for LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. It is an online application, so you can get to it from any computer with a web browser. No software to download, and nothing to sync between multiple computers.

I could go on and on trying to sell you on this application. But I won’t. Just trust me and sign up for it. In the meantime, here’s a solid overview video that will probably do it more justice:

Got any other tips for the sane use of Social Media?
Please comment below!

Photo by: Moment Of Intertia

Advertisements

3 comments

  1. Matt Lombard · ·

    Jeff, This is a good realistic look at SM. The one thing I'd add is that you should make a distinction between professional and personal accounts. Many personal stories could become professional suicide, and most people in your personal life find other people's professional activities boring. I stick to LinkedIn for professional activity and facebook for personal. I've given up on Twitter except to spy on people who are not very discerning ;0P

  2. Good point, Matt. Yes, LinkedIn is strictly professional for me. But, even on Facebook, you'll never see me posting something in bad taste (unless it's fashion related). This is a really crucial tip for anything done on the web: NOTHING IS PRIVATE.These are my tips for an individual, too. I should point out that businesses need to have an SM presence because these conversations about your brand are happening whether you participate or not.

  3. […] As many of you know, I am a big fan of twitter, facebook, linkedin, flickr and you tube (see side bar for links). It is more than a fad for me, its part of my personal and professional life. The key is simply being plugged in and connected with those around me. The challenge is wading through the bullshit when it comes to social media. Many are overwhelmed, don’t know where to start and couldn’t be bothered. What do I say to them? Take the time, expand your comfort zone and see what is out there. You might be surprised that there are tools out there that can actually help you stay current and communicate with a world that you would otherwise not know exists. Check out Jeff’s @lifeupfront’s take on it. […]