In a room full of powerful women in communications, I winced a little as a former politician essentially bragged about not using Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook. In 2012.
To each her own, but seriously? It's too late in the game for all that. Don't be that lady.
There are billions of dollars floating around in social media, just ask Mark Zuckerberg. To ignore it just doesn't make good business sense.
I know—it's a huge time suck, and time is money. You don't have time to waste. (Speaking of time, this Mashable blog about the best times to post on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr is great.)
So, I thought I'd offer a couple of time-saving tips when you're using social media for business and/or for pleasure.
According to TechCrunch, people spend over five hours on Facebook each month, and most of them look at it on their phones. More people use it on their mobile—441 minutes a month—than they do on their laptop. That's a lot of time to be wading through the minutia and major life events of all your friends and loved ones.
- Use the lists: The gift of Google+ to Facebook was the closed system of lists. This is an excellent way to cut down on the time I spend endlessly scrolling when I should be writing. When I feel like I'm missing out on the major zeitgeist of the moment, I peek at the Friend lists I'm most concerned about—close friends and family—for important news and save the rest for after working hours.
- Subscribe or Unsubscribe: If you're building a brand, you should allow subscribers. If you're not, it's possible for you to subscribe to businesses/brands/people who share details about business you might otherwise not see. For instance, I have "liked" a bunch of organizations that post details about grants and calls for submissions, which is really useful. I've tried to cut down on the number of pages I like so that I'm not sucked in by random open letters to Rihanna.
Twitter is like the Beyoncé of online media. People either really love it and are totally addicted or they hate it and feel the need to berate it in public every opportunity they get. Here's the situation: Like everything, Twitter is a useful tool if you know how to use it.
- Again, with the lists: I don't know what I was doing before I started making these lists, but it was a lot of busy work. I currently have 15, including a lists for business, writing, and journalism. The best thing about making lists is that it saves you from going into the open Twitter timeline unless you have time for that. The bonus is that you don't have to follow people if you don't want to, you can just add them to a list, which is something I do. I often follow people and add them to lists so I don't miss interesting/important updates from them.
- Less can be more: There are people who tweet all day long and have thousands of followers, but the general wisdom here is that you can get away with Tweeting once or twice a day and still have a life. In real life. If you are someone who knows how to restrain yourself this way, please help.
As someone who used to love to make collages, Pinterest tickles my fancy. And now Bitch is on it, and I can barely keep myself away. Visits to Pinterest have skyrocketed: 4000% in the six months preceding January 2012 and probably more since then. The majority of its users—80 percent—are women.
- Brands, Fashion, Politics: Pinterest is not just for wedding planning. It's a great place to follow your favorite brands, magazines, artists and more. Here's some inspiration to get you started if you're interested but haven't taken the plunge.
- Follow the boards you like: You probably knew this already because you're smart, but it took me awhile to figure out that I could just follow some of the boards that folks have and not all of them. This seems to cut down on the extraneous pinning for me.
LinkedIn can feel like dropping your business card in that random glass bowl at the lunch buffet place. But it boasts more than 35 million members in more than 140 industries. Not shabby. It's also a great way to utilize your network of professionals. Here's Guy Kawasaki's great list of 10 ways to use LinkedIn to find a job.
- Join the club: Using the group feature has been a good way for me to stay in the loop with some of the alumnae at my alma mater and at businesses where I used to work. You should go into the settings and set them up so that you get emailed weekly to cut down on email, unless you want to hear from these groups everytime someone posts or comments.
- Keep it updated: I try to update my profile frequently, just like I update my résumé, so that my contacts know what's going on and how to reach me. One of the drawbacks here is that some people avoid LinkedIn for weeks on end, so its not an ideal place to try to connect with someone right away.
Tell me what some of your social media habits and tips are in the comments!
You can also connect with me at all of the sites above. I only use my first initial when I'm writing most of the time so I'm not confused for Joshua (yes, that really happens) but people who use my full government name properly can find me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.