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Work Smart

Work Smart: Mastering Your Social Media Life

Work Smart

When you're active on the Web, keeping up with all your online accounts can feel like a full-time job. You want your high school friends to find you on Facebook, your co-workers to follow you on Twitter, and business associates to find you on LinkedIn. But there are only so many hours in the day, and too many Web sites to check in and update. The good news is that you don't have to hire a personal assistant to update all your profiles. With the right strategy, you can manage multiple accounts with minimal effort. Here's how.

First, make social network activity come to you. Pick your primary channel of communication and route all your notifications from various services to come through it. I call this funneling. For example, you check your email every day. Most every service can send you email alerts when you receive a message or get a new follower or comment. You can funnel Facebook messages, Flickr photo comments, Twitter direct messages, and LinkedIn questions all to your email inbox. (Don't forget: if email alerts come too often, change your settings to reduce the volume. On LinkedIn, for example, you can get a weekly digest email instead of instantaneous alerts every time.)

Second, interact with multiple services from a single interface. If some of your friends use Facebook and others use Twitter and others update their own blog, keep up with all those news streams in a single place like your RSS reader, or a tool like TweetDeck or FriendFeed. You can maximize your time even more and broadcast updates to multiple services in one shot. From TweetDeck or Digsby, for example, you can post a status update to both Twitter and Facebook at the same time.

Finally, split up your social media accounts for personal and business purposes. You don't want your boss to see that you're tweeting from the beach on a sick day, and you don't want your Mom to read about the hot date you had last night. Designate different accounts for different purposes and configure your privacy settings accordingly. While you don't want your social life to feel like work, keeping up a presence online and doing it well can pay off in business contacts and job leads down the road.

Gina Trapani is the author of Upgrade Your Life and founding editor of Lifehacker.com. Work Smart appears every week on FastCompany.com. Last week: Conquering Your Email Inbox.

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