Getting started with social media when you don’t have time

When I meet people interested in social tools who haven’t yet joined Twitter or some other social network, the reason is invariably that the person “doesn’t have time” to add one more activity to his or her day. For my first post (For my first trick…), here are three tips I recommend to friends and clients to minimize or eliminate time issues when first starting out:

Angry male puppet with grey mustache and sleeping cap.

You don’t have to be a puppet on a string, at the mercy of your schedule.

Stick with what you know and love
Like anything else in life, you’re more apt to make time in life for things you enjoy, so start out with a social platform that resonates with your interests. Most comfortable with the written word? If time really is an issue, Twitter’s character limit should be a blessing rather than a hindrance. More the visual type? Instagram. Like a little bit of everything and want to connect with an artistic, tech-savvy crowd? I’m pretty sure they’re still on Tumblr.

Granted, you’ll see posts online and forwarded emails from coworkers telling you your industry is on site x and you absolutely must be there. Fine. You can cross-post. The point is, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. But if you don’t like sugar, try the social media equivalents of honey, agave, maple syrup…whatever appeals to you.

Set aside time for a daily “five, three, one”
Sound gimmicky? Yep! But it’s the structure that matters here. Five minutes of browsing your chosen social platform, three times a day, one interaction each time. Of the three total times you’ll be interacting, try to make one of those original content, one a share of related content, and one some type of interaction with someone who’s creating content that you like.

For those who truly have difficulty finding spare time in a day, this will be the most infuriating step. If you don’t have 15 minutes available, try two, five-minute blocks, or three, three-minute blocks. Do what you can. My hope is that the final step below gives you targeted searching and automation steps that will buy you a minimum of five minutes a day back to devote to some of these beginning social media steps. So, on to the non-gender-specific monarch of the time-savers: RSS Feeds, email alerts and saved searches.

Use the tools you already have
If you’re in a profession that puts you in the kind of bind that allows you to say you’re too busy, you’re also in the kind of profession where you’re on a smartphone. You’ve got internet access, email, and social media apps at your fingertips. With a little time for setup and research, you can get your social media sharing moving.

I am a huge fan of using RSS feeds to track social media and tech news. Still, many people are intimidated by feed readers so I’ll focus on the friendlier option here. (I will mention, though, that with the recent demise of Google Reader that I’ve switched to and recommend Feedly). For the email alternative, visit Google Alerts and perform a search related to your industry. Set the frequency you’d like (daily is a good option for five, three, one), and enter your email address. Confirm by clicking the link sent in a follow-up email and boom! You’ve just given yourself a daily list of things to talk about and share online. Be sure to perform similar searches internally on your social network of choice. You’ll find people in our industry with similar interests that may be worth getting in touch with.

So there you go. Those are my three tips for jump-starting your social media activity if you feel like time isn’t on your side. They’re on the common-sense side of things, for sure. But it’s why I love social media and why I’m drawn deeper into it as my career progresses: it’s a straightforward way of communicating that allows creativity among the largest base of people.

I genuinely love talking shop, so please feel free to get in touch! Leave me a comment or send an email. Thanks for reading!

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