In a completely informal, non-study of human behavior, the number one excuse for not doing something is: being busy with something else.
In other words, when someone checks in on a task they feel owed to them, an unfiltered answer wouldn’t be “I’ve been busy,” rather “I’ve used my time on things more important than you.”
We wouldn’t get too far with interpersonal relationships if we spoke in real terms about busyness. Same idea applies to health and exercise, financial discipline, remembering birthdays, etc.
The headline of this post is meant to be cheeky. If you’re living, working, playing (and hopefully sleeping), you’re busy and likely stressed about your time management.
With social media, busyness lends itself to both sides of the coin. People admit they are too busy to keep up with being active on social from a personal or professional standpoint; as well as getting too distracted on the personal side of social. No sadder case of YOLO vs. FOMO.
I've written before about why professionals and leaders should think seriously about social media.
Instead of trying to negotiate social media into your schedule, answer these questions:
The traditional business networking tactics of the past, are becoming just that, “of the past.” Chances are you're already doing something meaningful, ex. you have a LinkedIn profile; you've been tagged in some sort of social post, etc. Your future goals should include a stronger and strategic digital presence, and trust that it’s already an overcrowded pool.
Like everyone else, my responsibilities continue to grow in their gravity, and time is shorter than ever, yet both my job duties and my personal career development count on an increasingly active social media presence, and a keen understanding of what’s coming next.
This means that I feel for you, I am with you, and here to share good news that your small gestures are a big deal.
Question All You Know
In the small world I’ve created for myself I know a handful of people that aren’t active on social media, at least not in conventional terms. But have no doubt they are certainly caught up in the Internet of Things (IoT).
An elderly neighbor recently ambushed me during my weekend jog to show me her new Fitbit, and applaud her efforts in beating her husband and other relatives in walking challenges. These people might not have active profiles or publish online, but they certainly do call on technology and apps to communicate, support their social relationships and organize activities.
Don't talk yourself out of investing in social media because you think your target audiences aren't on "there."
"There" is a moving target of omnipresent proportions, and if they aren't there now, they will be soon.
I feel fortunate to have experienced a portion of adult life without the chaos of social media, while also being schooled to be a fluent social media adopter, both for my line of work and personal development.
I have found myself at times to be quite anti-social, recently suspending my Facebook after 11 years of active use. I’ve also hopped around a bit on platforms without fully committing to blowing one up (but experimenting enough to be dangerous along the way).
These facts alone qualify me to know, well, it’s not all butterflies and hashtags. What I do know is how it feels to spend “time well-wasted,” without achieving social media superstardom or tangible results, and/or wondering if more followers or shares would fill that empty feeling.
But this is where my crankiness ends. It’s where I go back to those three questions and remind myself there is good reason to stay on track.
Think & Act Differently
Maybe you’ve tried the social media thing before, or maybe you’re unsure to how to blur, or separate, the lines between your personal and business life. In any case, at any stage, the following tips below are designed as guidelines to get you focused, energized and active.
Think two main platforms or channels. That’s all. Check out many (and claim yourself and brand if you haven’t already on most) and then commit to two to learn inside and out and engage regularly. Which platforms are most “you,” and where will be the most valuable to spend your time.
You can think in terms of opposites in your choosing: broad and narrow/niche audiences; long-form and short-form publishing; highly visual or highly narrative.
An example would be Twitter and LinkedIn; or Instagram and Medium, or YouTube and Pinterest. You can grow your presence overtime but start with something simple, tangible and doable, that also feels like you belong there.
Narrow Your Subjects
Again, pick two or three subject areas or themes, which are near and dear to you, to comment, share and publish. Not because you’re boring; because it’s easier to frame your mind and activities around focused themes. Think of it as your journalistic beats. Follow these topics on the channels and start identifying your personal brand with these themes.
Follow (Stalk) a Friend
You know the one. The one all over this stuff, racking up followers, getting gigs left and right. Lurk, watch them, check on them day and night. Watch for patterns. Set against a power user, observe and learn to translate ways on how you want to present yourself.
Commit to Your Calendar
Seriously, create recurring calendar events to block your time to participate on social media. At least until it becomes second nature.
You can start small, say two times a week, block a half hour to log on. Then move to twice a day, maybe first in the morning and early evening, or two other slots that make the most sense in the ebb and flow of your day.
Soon it will become a habit and the regular use will lead to efficiencies that will make your time on their better and richer.
Check Twice, Post Once
Some tools and platforms will allow you to share the same message on multiple social channels. Not all the functionality translates precisely but it is an argument for multiplying your time and efforts. There are also tools, including free ones, where you can manage multiple accounts from one login. Again, it's all about getting comfortable first before looking at ways to extend your activity further.
Give it Your Best
Life seems to reveal, over and over again, that you will get out what you put in. Same for your social media activity.
Commit to changing your behavior by making social media one of your priority “somethings.”
Start with a couple channels, a few themes, and log in several times each week, to engage inside and outside your comfort zone.
You might even learn a little something along the way.
Christina Capadona-Schmitz (@ChristinaCS & @DownWithSpitUp) leads marketing communications for Oswald Companies, a risk management and financial services company in Cleveland, Ohio.
She is on the clock 24/7 with her parenting resource blog www.DownWithSpitUp.com, among other creative pursuits and community endeavors. Connect with her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/christinacapadonaschmitz.