Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr: Feeling a little overwhelmed by social media? You're not alone. Here's how one expert handles it.
"How do you do it all?" I'm sure I'm not the only entrepreneur who hears this question. But most often, the people asking me this question are referring to juggling the social media merry-go-round.
I am, after all, also the author of a book touting the use of Twitter for "an hour a day"–but if I were to apply this same formula to every social media platform, how would I find time for anything else?
If you feel pressure to jump on this social media bandwagon, but are also overwhelmed by technology and time, let me fess up to some truths of how I manage "it all." Maybe it will help put your mind at ease.
1. Put Your Business First
I've been in this business a long time. I've had to learn about a lot of new technologies and trends, but I've also seen a lot of great businesses crash and burn because they never managed to master the art of the bottom line.
So while I'm not saying you should ignore social media, let me also say this: You have to make running your business your priority. No one will fault you if you skipped Twitter for a day because you were in contract negotiations with your biggest client for a three-year renewal.
2. Pick Your Battles
To say that there are a lot of social media networks is an obvious understatement.
As a business owner, some may hold more appeal to you than others. For example, I enjoy and appreciate Twitter for its brevity, ease of use, diverse content, and broad public audience. I probably frequent LinkedIn as much as I use Twitter these days, but for completely different reasons–it's where business relationships get started.
I also like commenting on articles and blogs (or responding to comments made on my articles–hint, hint).
At my company, I emphasize the importance of content marketing and blogging, so we try to produce and post for a wide variety of social media channels. On the other hand, for the sake of personal security, I have avoided GPS-based services like FourSquare and Facebook check-ins. And Pinterest does hold any personal appeal for me.
What are your preferences? Chances are if you enjoy the platform, you'll be much more inclined to use it more frequently–so start with what you like and go from there.
3. Define Your Role
This one is a tough one. Are you on social media for personal enjoyment or for business gain? And does this choice determine what and how you share on these networks?
I'm hearing more frequently that entrepreneurs and senior-level executives have put up dividing walls, reserving Facebook for non-work friends and directing business contacts to LinkedIn. If you haven't determined which hat you want to wear when you're engaging in social media, your message might get a little muddied.
Additionally, you need to figure out what role you play in your company's social media initiatives. Are you just a company figurehead, not really involved at all? The maestro leading a social media orchestra? Or are your sleeves rolled up and you're all-in?
You need to understand this for yourself: If you haven't defined your own role in social media, how do you expect your company to know how to proceed in this space?
4. Make It a Team Effort
I'm big on the team approach at my company. My philosophy is that social media is too big and requires too much care and feeding for any one of us to conquer single-handedly. So we have a small in-house social media team. (Hats off to those entrepreneurs that are really doing it all solo; I seriously wonder if they have any down time.)
Even though I manage all my own personal social media accounts, I also rally the troops to share content that I or someone at Web Ad.vantage has produced.
I also believe in cross-pollinating on social media platforms. (It's why I like my bookmarklets so much.) And when I was writing my book, I used crowdsourcing through Twitter to gather much of my research or help deliver a message. I can still turn to this core group of people (I call them "#HTArmy") if I really need their assistance.
Feel a little bit better now? Please do give yourself permission to pick and choose your social media participation, though.
I promise: You're not letting anyone down if you do.
Client advocate, digital strategist, and thought leader HOLLIS THOMASES, founder of Web Ad.vantage, helps companies navigate the complexity of the ever-changing digital marketing landscape and develop digital strategies. @hollisthomases