In the past few months, my social networking style has been changing.
I have started using new systems to develop and distribute ideas, Websites and other people’s posts. I hope that it’s helping me be both a better person for people to engage and to make it easier for me to manage the ever-increasing number of “places” where a person “has” to be today.
There are great tools appearing which can help you use a data-focused approach a to create and publish the right “content” for the right people at the time they are most receptive to receiving it.
The changing demographics make it increasingly important to use social networks in a way that effectively enhances online reputations, personal and professional relationships.
Between 2008 and 2010, a Pew Internet report found that more than half of all Americans using social networks—primarily Facebook—are 36 or over. That means what you say on these sites impacts the way businesspeople and friends view you.
Michael Wolf’s post on how he curates and automates content has formed the basis of my strategy (though I have also done things differently in some places). One of his most-salient points is that it’s not unauthentic to automate some parts of your social networking activity. Doing so leaves you more time to personally interact with people. By “curating” more information, more people are responding to you, so you’re engaging more people more often.
Another post which has shaped this change is Jeremiah Owyang’s presentation, “A Strategy for Social Media Proliferation“. He adeptly addresses the concern he sums up as, “A struggle to maintain control over an increasing number of social media accounts.”
Marsh Sutherland’s SocialGrow blog also has an excellent post on timing Tweets.
Tools like Buffer (here’s a referral link: http://bufferapp.com/r/977a6) allow people to create updates anytime (through browser, mobile apps) and set up a schedule to publish at times when people are more receptive to your posts.
Another site that’s become integral to this strategy is ifttt.com, which is short for, “If This, Then That”. Ifttt.com lets people send commands from one online service to another (through APIs).
I have started automating dozens of tasks to make participating in Twitter easier and to make a person a better contributor to his or her communities.
Once you have Ifttt.com set up, you can post using tools that fit into your online life. Personally, GMail is the screen I am on most, so being able to post updates using GChat is super convenient.
For instance, I set up a “recipe” to send Tweets from Google Chat (by adding a #tw hashtag). This makes it easier Tweet updates. Other recipes you can find:
- Automatically thank people who re-Tweet an update
- Thank people who list you on FollowFridays
- Send starred Google Reader items to BufferApp
Even if you are solely using your social networking profiles for personal use, it is important to publish updates when your connections want to hear from you. If you are using Facebook, Twitter and other social networks for business purposes, you absolutely need to ensure you time your updates based on analytical data.
The fourth tool I use is SocialBro, which analyzea your social networks on Facebook and Twitter to tell you the best times to send updates. Here is one analysis:
5. RSS reader
One drawback to my current approach is that many of these tools use Google Reader as a source of content to be distributed. With Google Reader’s demise, what are other ways to send RSS feeds to these networks? If you have ideas, please post them.
Once you know the best times to Tweet, you can set this up in Bufferapp.com so that no matter when you create or curate content, it will be published at the right time. I have found this to be especially helpful because I tend to Tweet in bursts. So, now I can spend 10 or 15 minutes posting Tweets in the morning and have a day or two of pre-scheduled updates.
These automated posts can then be augmented by off-the-cuff observations and responses to posts from your network.
The mixture of live and automated posts can help make a Twitter profile more informative for followers as well as more lively and current at the same time.
How are you updating your social networks? What works well and what needs improvement?