Finding Time for Participation in Social Media

Participation in social media is the singe best way to better understand this new emerging space. A lot of the marketing managers I’ve been working with don’t understand social media very much because they don’t participate in it themselves. It’s hard to understand the value of color television if all you’re used to is a black and white set. And social media is the color television version of the Internet most people are used to.

But, almost every marketing manager I speak with regarding social media asks where in the world they can find the time to participate in all these networks, blogs and sites. Between work, families, hobbies, kids soccer games and what have you, everyone exclaims, there just isn’t’ enough time. They look at me like I’m an unproductive social media aficionado with too much time on my hands. Which is not the case by the way! Just to let you in on me a bit, I just don’t watch television.

Your situation and preferences are obviously different, and even if you don’t watch T.V., like me, your other commitments may be overwhelming. So, how do you participate in social media without staying up into the wee hours of the morning? Well, after talking to a some very busy marketing executives, here are a few pointers I’ve come up with:

Refine Your Participation: Recognize that you can’t be everywhere. So, narrow down a few social networks and bookmarking tools to participate in. One way to narrow down the network is by joining the one where most of your friends are. It’s not fun to be on a network and have no “real” friends. So, join a few networks like MySpace, Facebook, Bebo and have them scan through your email contacts. Then participate in the one where you have the most friends.

Time Management: Allocate a specific time to participate in social networks. I suggest a 30 to 45 minute window at least once a week. This will allow you to stay current with your friends and accept, reject any communication you may be receiving from them. Also this time should be plenty for you to explore the site a bit more and learn about its features.

Nothing’s Urgent in Social Media: I write this because one CEO mentioned to me that she felt like she had too many e-mail notifications and so many log-in information to remember that she was just overwhelmed. Well, the first things to keep in mind is none of these friend requests are critical communication with urgent messages. If your friend is really hurting, they’ll have ways of communicating to you by other means. So, take a deep breath and just delete those e-mails. These notifications will be there waiting for you when you log-in during your allocated time. A delayed acceptance to a friend request will not mean you’re devaluing the friendship in any way.

Finally, enjoy the network. A lot of these networks are fun and entertaining. That is why so many young people spend time on them. Learn to enjoy the new forms of interaction you are now able to have with your friends and associates. Go ahead “poke them” or “throw a sheep” at them. Forward a few videos. Leave a few comments. Recommend some stupid videos. Comment on a few pictures. Interact with the community.

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