If you’re reading this blog post, there’s a good chance that you have an account on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, or any of the other scores of social networking sites out there. And the fact remains that a lot of them are down right addicting.
If you’re a high school kid or someone with a lot of free time, it really doesn’t matter if those sites become your new crack.
However, for those of us - business owners, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, corporate professionals, etc. - who use those social technologies for business, spending countless hours in front of the computer might not be the most effective use of time.
But what do you do if you’re connected to a lot of people who choose to communicate with you using these social networking sites? Surely, you wouldn’t want to ignore them.
Doing so would mean abandoning chances to build meaningful relationships and profitable business ventures.
That’s clearly not an option. So, what do we do?
We use tools and techniques that will help us maintain a healthy balance between using these social sites and taking care of the things that matter. I’ve listed three tips (along with some free tools) that will help you accomplish this.
1. Develop a system to help you follow-up effectively and efficiently
There are two things we can do here: 1) respond to updates and notifications immediately or 2) designate two (maybe three) specific times in the day to respond.
I can’t say which method you should use without knowing your current situation, but they both have their benefits. Personally, I prefer to employ the first method. For instance, as soon as I receive a Facebook message, I will send a reply to the sender.
Not only does this prevent “message pile-ups,” but it also shows a certain amount of dedication on your part. That goes a long way in developing relationships with those you want to connect with. The second method is generally more suited for those with busy family schedules and already-crowded days.
If you work at a company, you might not be able to communicate with someone immediately. In this case, setting a time before work, one during your lunch break, and another in the evening might be the ideal solution for you.
2. Use toolbars and 3rd party clients
I swear by these things. There was a point in time where I constantly found myself wandering around aimlessly on Facebook. I wasn’t getting “real” work done and my time on the site was beginning to equate into a massive waste.
I decide to limit my time on the site and incorporate time-saving methods such as installing the Facebook toolbar on my Firefox browser. The toolbar updates immediately whenever someone makes a friend request, sends a message, pokes me, etc.
Now, I only have to go on the site when there is relevant activity. Here is the link to Facebook’s official toolbar for Firefox:
For Twitter, I use a third-party client called Tweetdeck.
Using a client helps by keeping you abreast of changes and status updates via notifications on your screen and/or Internet browser.
It’s a great way to stay connected without having to constantly check on the main site which could turn into a big time wasting activity.
Here is the link to Tweetdeck (which I use) and Twirl (another wildly popular Twitter client):
3. Enable email and mobile notifications.
This tip works great for Facebook users. Just adjust your settings to send updates and notifications to your mobile phone and email address. Receiving texts on your cell phone helps keep you connected even when you’re not in front of a computer.
I’ve carried on many conversations just by using my cell phone. And when, I’m checking my email account, I can see updates arrive instantly. Plus, another bonus is that I can search through my Facebook messages using Gmail.
It’s a much more effective way to find what I’m looking for as opposed to using Facebook’s woefully inadequate Message Search tool.
So, to recap: develop a follow-up/response system that fits your schedule; use third-party clients and toolbars to increase your productivity; and use your mobile phone and email account to stay connected when you’re away from the house or just away from your favorite social networking site.
Think I missed anything? What are you doing as a business owner to stop social networking from taking up too much of your life?