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Finding the time for social media – top 10 tips
Decide why you are considering using social media as part of your PR efforts in the first place, and consider what else
you do on a daily basis that may no longer bring benefits to you. You may need to accept that something else has to
give way in order to free up time for social media interactions.
2. Make a case for support
Increasingly organisations are appointing dedicated digital media communications experts, or bringing in external
support to help provide additional resource and expertise to deal with social media. This could take the form of a full
time member of staff, a part-time student temp, or out-sourced agency support. Have the conversation with your
line manager to see if there are options to invest in additional resource to take advantage of social media
communications opportunities. There’s no harm in asking!
3. Get connected
Having a portable laptop or a good smart phone (such as a blackberry or iPhone) can make you more efficient with
your time and ensure that time spent walking to meetings, waiting for others, or on the bus or train can be used
productively. 3G and wifi connections are now good enough to mean that you can use those ‘in-between’ times
effectively to engage with social media via mobile devices.
4. Use an RSS reader
Really Simple Syndication (RSS) has been around now for quite some time, but the real benefits of it are only just
beginning to be understood as social media really takes off. Despite having the word ‘simple’ in the name it might
sound and look complex at first glance. However, all it really does is enables you to take live information from one
place (your favourite news site, for example) and put it somewhere else in a way that will automatically update
when new content is posted. By using an RSS reader (such as google.com/reader) you can bring together the content
from all of the sites that you check every day for news and updates meaning that you now just have to check one
page (your reader) rather than several, freeing up your time for more social media engagement. RSS is also a
powerful tool for monitoring (see tip 8 below).
5. Use a photo-sharing site to make images easily available
Most organisations put press releases online, but few also make high resolution images ready for journalists to
download direct from the site and use in their articles. A simple photo-sharing site such as Flickr can be used to
quickly upload high resolution images, apply a creative commons license (so you determine what the images can and
can’t be used for), and save time by providing the link to journalists in your press release rather than dealing with
lots of phone calls asking for the same thing.
6. If it isn’t benefiting you, stop doing it
Okay, so this sort of repeats tip 1, but it’s very easy to spend lots of time on lots of different social media sites
because you think you have to. However, if you’ve been using it for months and so far haven’t seen any actual
benefit to doing so, then evaluate where you are going wrong and consider stopping. You’re better to use 2-3
channels well, than use 10+ channels badly if you really don’t have the time to do it all.
7. Use a social media monitoring tool
No doubt you allocate time every week to read the press cuttings, and check your latest google alerts. However,
many people don’t monitor social media because they think it requires them to go into several different sites and
manually check for mentions of their brand. Increasingly, this is no longer the case. Some companies have developed
sophisticated social media monitoring platforms for which you must pay a fee. Some are definitely work a look.
However, if you’re looking for a basic free-to-use tool, try www.whostalkin.com. You should also think about
installing a desktop application for using platforms such as Twitter – TweetDeck is one of many that we would
8. Let the ‘tweets’ come to you
Everyone is talking about twitter, and in theory everyone on Twitter could be talking about you or your brand. You
just don’t know unless you keep an eye on the buzz. Some organisations have even found out things from their own
colleagues that have then turned into great PR opportunities that they wouldn’t have know about before Twitter.
Using a Twitter search tool such as http://search.twitter.com is an easy way to check if anyone is talking about you.
However, because you can get an RSS feed of any search result that will automatically update every time someone
new tweets your keywords, that means you can get those alerts direct on your RSS reader (see tip 4 above) or direct
into your outlook inbox. Pickle Jar Communications have published a video tutorial to show you how easy it is to set
up Twitter alerts in your outlook inbox: http://www.picklejarcommunications.com/2009/10/06/an-easy-way-to-
9. Don’t get distracted by the personal stuff
A recent report suggested that time spent on Twitter by employees using it for personal use costs the UK economy
£1.38 billion in ‘wasted’ time. When you’re checking sites such as Twitter or Facebook for work purposes, it’s all too
easy to get distracted by your friend’s latest updates or their photos from their safari adventure to Kenya. Set
yourself a rule that you won’t allow yourself to be distracted and stick to it. Use your breaks and lunch hours to
check up on the personal stuff, or do it in the evenings and weekends. Don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s work or
professional development time if you aren’t actually learning anything new or useful to your job!
10. Pick your battles carefully
Many individuals are worried that the moment they start engaging with social media, they are going to spend their
entire time fire-fighting online. The reality of the social media communications revolution is that people are out
there probably talking about your brand already. Some will say things that you don’t want to hear and, what’s more,
they can say it anytime, anyhow, anywhere. You’re not going to beat this, and the situation is the same for all
brands, so first you must accept that it is going to happen (whether you actively engage in the spaces or not). This
means that you must choose your battles with care and adopt an appropriate voice and approach to doing so. Don’t
let yourself get drawn into engaging with every negative comment. See our separate guide on choosing your battles.