8 Tips for Streamlining Your Social Media

There never seems to be enough time, especially if you work for yourself. Between the incredible flood of information available to us on the internet, and a work load that probably never lets up, you could be missing out on valuable opportunities. Social Networks and relationships in general, take time and care to grow and provide you with any real benefit.

If you find yourself lagging behind in trends and conversations, or never having enough time to contribute, it is clear you need to take a break and get some serious social solutions in place right away!

With a few tools and routines, you can streamline your Social Media to make interacting with multiple networks more efficient and engaging with followers much easier. Below are eight tips I have picked up and put into practice in my experience that I hope will make your life easier and your work more rewarding.

Cut down on the noise

There are hundreds of social networks covering different niches, but all have one thing in common – they bring people together and require time to manage. Even when networks use a special format such as photo sharing, shopping, bookmarking and so on – it is likely that the individuals you encounter in one place can also be found in at least two others. As of 2011, Google+ has become the largest social network, eclipsing Facebook’s  500 million users, with Twitter lagging behind at 250 million.

Limit your activity updates to only a few networks. Choose the ones that are the most productive or meaningful to you, and consider your location and age versus that of your target audience. In most cases, sticking with a handful of niche networks and at least two major ones is the best formula.

Organize Your Followers

Now that you have settled on a few networks to maintain, visit your friend and follower lists and begin editing out inactive followers, spammers and anyone else you don’t want around. Take advantage of Twitter lists, Facebook Lists and Google Circles to further manage your followers. This approach will make it easier to deliver targeted messages and content to specific groups later on while helping you prioritize followers you want to track.

Once you have lists created, you can tune in to a specific group and really maximize your network experience. Your groups can include friends, clients, prospects, colleagues, niche communities, people by profession…you get the picture. If you don’t take the time to create groups, as you add more contacts, you will not only miss out on valuable conversations, but your friends will undoubtedly sidetrack you when you should be focusing on business!

Consolidate streams with an app

The most time-consuming aspect of Social Media is switching between multiple profiles and websites to keep up with the flow .Sharing to multiple networks has been made a little easier with sharing widgets and blog plugins, but you may find you are still forced to re-post content. If you’re like me, you probably stopped duplicating posts a long time ago and fell into using one or two networks exclusively. This pitfall severely limits your reach. Eliminate it by consolidating your activities to one place!

There are a handful of high-quality, free applications available for consolidating your streams that come in both desktop applications and online services, but not all are created equal. Social media experts recommend Hootsuite and Nimble for their focus on CRM and thorough feature list. Paired with Tweet Spinner, a premium syndication service, Hootsuite in particular is probably the most powerful app available. It even has a mobile app. Here are a few things you can do with these solutions:

  • Manage important networks including Facebook, Ping.fm, Twitter and LinkedIn. It even has support for WordPress.
  • Manage contacts and private messages.
  • View click-through statistics on individual messages.
  • Save drafts and recycle past posts.

If photo sharing is a large part of what you do, Posterous may be a better solution for you. This free online service allows you to post to multiple networks at once, including sending photos to Instagram, Facebook, Picasa and Flickr simultaneously. Unlike Hootsuite or other tools like it, Posterous only supports one-way management of your networks. You are not able to view streams or manage users, but it is the only solution that supports this level of social photo management.

Ping.fm is another excellent choice if you need to manage more than the most popular networks, supporting 32 networks in total, including Flickr.

Unfortunately, none of these services supports syndication to Google+ yet. If Google+ is important to you, it may be better to use it as your base for the time being, employing the following tips.

Socialize Your Browser

Google+ users can harness some of the benefits provided by the previously mentioned apps through a handful of Chrome or Firefox extensions that feed other network streams into the Google+ interface, and syndicate your Google+ updates to these networks automatically. You can also integrate Google+ into Facebook, FriendFinder and Twitter with +1 button syndication. To get started, check out the following:

Chrome

Firefox & IE

Desktop

For more options, check out the Google+1 App Blog here.

Connect Your Website

Using your website or blog as your base of operations is another successful strategy, particularly if you use WordPress. Plugins enable you to turn your dashboard into a social management center where you can view your streams, syndicate your posts to multiple networks and interact with your readers. Where this strategy will limit you is in user and message management, and the number of supported networks. For this reason, it is better to focus on connecting your website to your networks rather than vice-versa.

For WordPress users who do not want to use Hootsuite, here are  a handful of plugins that automate reposting of content or help you manage, view or share your collective lifestream from your blog.

·         Twitter Updater
·         WordPress Twitter Widget
·         WP-Profilactic
·         Gregarious
·         Hey Social

Make Time

If you think you never have time to organize your life, keep in mind that organizing your life is what will give you more time! As with any investment, you need to put in a little now to reap the benefits down the road. The same is true with social networking, and is doubly important if you use social networking to promote your skills or business.

Integrate social networking into your daily or weekly routine by scheduling time to focus on it. If social networking is already so much a part of your life that you can’t get anything done because of it, restricting it to a specific time slot in your life will help you more than you know. If you find yourself getting lost in the chaos even with scheduled use, try this simple workflow:

Daily: 30-60mins

  1. Check for and respond to replies and comments
  2. Read recent updates from “top” groups.
  3. Scan incoming streams from new followers to add to your groups

Weekly or every few days: 30-60mins

Compose original content. Unlike micro-updates or shares, you should aim to inspire conversation or feedback to maintain a quality level of engagement with your followers. The result is paid out in more leads, traffic, recommendations and industry recognition.

 Schedule It

Finding time to maintain your networks may mean 2am on a Friday or 6am on a Monday, which may not be the optimal time to send out a status update. Thankfully, several of the solutions I’ve covered so far allow you to schedule your updates.

Socialoomph is a popular stand-alone solution, sending an auto-DM “thank you” to new Twitter followers and generating a keyword track of your @name replies. For advanced Twitter management, including tweet rotation automation and a dozen other useful features, TweetSpinner’s paid service is the only rotation-scheduling tool that can still talk directly to Twitter… AND… it is cheaper than SocialOomph’s paid service. If you choose to use Hootsuite, individual update scheduling is already built in.

Get Help

For those of you who own your own business, brand or band, social networking is the least expensive and most effective form of marketing. There is only one of you though, and if you are already loaded down with the daily responsibilities required to keep your business afloat, you might consider hiring someone to take care of your social media for you. For a marginal cost, a social media expert will not only whip your social network sphere into shape for you, they know how to generate engaging content that is appropriate for your audience and sure to increase your social value. Gone are the days of being overwhelmed by too much information. A hired hand can filter out only the important and relevant bits for you, but this relationship takes trust and an austere selection process. Avoid committing social suicide by hiring a professional with a solid record of accomplishment.

So there you have it! In just a couple hours, you should be able to narrow your scope, consolidate your streams, connect your website and setup a schedule for social success that is guaranteed to enrich your business and restore some balance to your life.

About the Author
Vail from DesignArticleWriters.com is a designer and tech blogger who enjoys writing everything and anything about design and tech. She love to recommend people who provide awesome stock photos to design community around the globe.

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