I am a power user of social media. My main spaces for work are Google Communities, Facebook, Twitter, and my blog. I have maintained a blog since 2008 and moderate more than a dozen online communities. The question I’m consistently asked is “How do you have time for it all?” While for some social media has the unfortunate reputation of being a time waster, it can be used as a tool to increase efficiency and support learning for self and others.
So, when I’m asked the question, the answer is easy.
I have time for it all because for me, social media saves me time.
1) Bookmark spaces
Create a bookmark folder for your commonly used social media spaces and have a separate window for them and your email. When you check your email, click along the browser tabs and take a look at your social media spaces too. Having this bookmarked saves time from having to think about which spaces to look at. Checking when you check your email, results in not having to worry if you’re keeping up.
You can go to your folder and open all the tabs with one click as shown in the screenshot below.
2) Foster natural leadership in your groups
If you’ve done your job well as a community leader (read how here), a natural leadership group emerges, participants start instigating topics and agendas, and people begin shaping and assuming ownership of community norms. In a robust community, participants will start finding their niches as follows.
-> Nurturers: who will always be seen greeting new people.
->Responders: who have the urge to comment and make sure everyone’s posts and ideas and contributions are recognized.
->Pushers: who can deepen the dialogue with their probing questions
->Sharers: who are always finding a good outside resource to enrich a conversation.
You may encourage these kinds of roles in the early going, but beyond the online community tipping point you rarely have to ask for it. On a slow day you may call on their help by tagging them or private messaging (PMing), but now you know WHO to call on for a welcome or a comment or a push. The niche people appear and you just recognize and validate their contributions as appropriate.
3) Paradigm changes from “person” as expert to “group” as expert
If you do a good job, you can change the paradigm of a “person” as an expert to “group” as an expert. Rather than sending and tracking emails to multiple people who may know answers, you share them in a group. This saves the asker time because there is a large audience and the traditional “askies” time because participants realize there is a whole community of knowledge out there. This reduces emails and increases the access to good answers and connections.
4) When you get a potential FAQ, blog it!
When I’m asked a question, I answer it, but I do so in a way that will help others. For example, where I work, schools will soon have the option to allow students to use their own devices for learning. That resulted in lots of questions. Rather than just sending an answer to one person, I wrote a post and shared it with the person answering the question as well as the community of teachers interested. The result, is a great reduction in additional emails because they are already posted in the community where folks would be interested, and even if the question is emailed again, just copy/paste the link rather than start all over.
5) Twitter helps to quickly get answers from experts
You can find a world of experts on any topic if you have literacy in using Twitter also know as “Twitteracy.” Just know the right hashtags and how to find experts and you have the world’s best knowledge at your fingertips. It is better than any rolodex allowing you to connect anytime, anywhere, with the interested parties who are available now.
These are just some ways social media can make you more productive at work. What are some ways social media helps you work more effectively? Please share in the comments.