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.

Add New Comment

17 Comments

  • Shannon Ferguson

    Hi Gina - agree with most here that funneling isn't the answer; most of us have a hard enough time keeping up with email as is, especially if you have several email accounts inc. personal & professional. And it's also difficult to have multiple identities split by work/life, especially as the lines blur more & more with professional use of social networks. Some of the folks I enjoy following most do a great job of balancing their prof & personal updates (@iancrogers, @fredwilson, @missrogue).

    But you highlight a major issue re: keeping up with the incoming firehouse of both communications & news. Think this can be split between real-time vs. "catch-up". I could not live without Tweetdeck for organizing the real-time flow of social network updates, and by different categories/lists (tech/startup/VC, friends, Paris/French etc). Just waiting for them to implement an RSS column ;) Another great tool is Instapaper...one click on an article lets me 'Read Later" either on my mac or iPhone (autosyncs w/out connecting). And Delicious is great for bookmarking with tags for future reference.

    One of the major challenges in the next few years is going to be how to aggregate, track, archive, organise, filter and search news/info and communications/contacts. The immediacy of data provides huge opportunities, but also requires everyone to be up-to-date, especially when managing prof. relationships. Those interested should check out Silentale.com, a startup attacking this for your contacts & messages (disclaimer: I work there).

  • Monica Lodise

    I'm with John on Nutshell Mail --- it simplifies and organizes and goes straight to my inbox.

    I also am a big, big fan of segmenting things into lists and groups, so I have lots of: Friends lists (by geography, school, work, where I met them, etc.) as well as Twitter lists.

    I use Ping.fm (now Seesmic) to update across all my social networks through one post.

    And if it's any help, I use claimid.com to remember who I signed up with.

  • Joe Waters

    I agree with Tyson. First, email isn't social media so I don't think I'd want to manage my networks on it. Second, I agree you can't separate the personal from the professional, at least if you want to be effective with both. They really should be interwoven.

    I keep track of just about everything through Tweetdeck. It has a column for just about everything (linkedin, Facebook, search, etc.) Morever, most of the people I want info from have Twitter handles so I avoid RSS and email newsletters. Everything comes in through Twitter. If I want to save it to read later, I favorite it. If I want to keep it for longer, I send it to Evernote.

    I actually published a post on the subject if you want to check it out. www.selfishgiving.com

  • Chris Reich

    Tyson...
    Fan pages can be separated in Facebook. Do you need Linkedin for friends? No. Twitter? You can have 100 accounts. And the lines aren't blurry. They're clear.

    You might attend a client's Christmas party but would you have clients over for Thanksgiving dinner?

    Chris Reich
    www.TeachU.com

  • Tyson Goodridge

    GINA- Thanks for your thoughts on the topic- but couldn't disagree more with your suggestions.

    1. If you are having messages sent to one email account, it means that spending a lot of time on your email, and NOT on your social network. Social media happens a lot faster than email (and people spend more time on social networks than email anyway) That's like picking up your mail once a week, rather than going to the post office/mailbox every day.

    Wouldn't recommend splitting up personal and business social networks. In this day and age. Business and personal lines continue to get blurrier. If you're at the beach on a sick day, don't tweet about it...common sense here. I've never heard of someone who has separate Linkedin, Facebook or Twitter accounts...

    Tyson
    @goodridge

  • Gregory Ferenstein

    @john, thanks for the NutshellMail recommendation. Does anyone else have tips or applications they use to manage multiple inboxes.

    --
    @ferenstein

  • Chris Reich

    This really comes down to separation and not funneling. I've dabbled around the social sites and don't find them particularly useful for business. I think people get an ego rush from believing that someone cares about your collection of eggs from Farmville or how many chicken wings you ate at the Super Bowl party.

    If real business networking is separated from purely social interaction, the volume becomes manageable. Do the work on work time, play with your friends on your own time.

    And no, there is not a gray line. You know exactly when you're not working...

    Chris Reich
    www.TeachU.com

  • John Vasko

    I really liked last week's column on e-mail inbox management and have been employing some of what you suggested. However, I don't necessarily think that e-mail is always the best channel for dealing with all social media messages. I really don't know if there is a single solution but I do think there are some things that can help. One is to set up a filter for all of your e-mail notifications from social networks to skip the inbox and go directly to a folder that you check when you've set aside time.

    I also like and utilize the service NutshellMail: http://ow.ly/NN4A

    I've tried threadsy.com and like the idea of it but I like gmail too much to use it exclusively for e-mail. I wish Digsby were available for Mac users so I could try it.

    Finally, if you use www.hootsuite.com for managing twitter, you can also use it to update Facebook and Linkedin (but not receive messages).

    These are a few of my tricks.

    Thanks for the great posts. J

  • Robert Klein

    I think funneling is great advice for those that use Email for everyday communication. Definitely great for those that are Email obsessed people. You know who YOU are!

  • Marcus Goodyear

    Funnelling is good simple advice. Daniella's right in that it still requires discipline and strong skimming/speed reading skills.

    The final advice to compartmentalize identities really struck me though. In my social media work, I aim specifically for a holistic experience. My work, family, and faith all blend together across multiple channels in a pretty straightforward way. It's like the old Steve Martin movie--Why not take all of me? Is that too much to ask of my social media contacts?

    As for not wanting my boss to see me tweeting about the beach on my sick day. There's an easy solution to that. Don't lie to the boss. :)

  • Pete Lawrence

    It really is difficult sometimes to find a way to keep up with all of the social networks. These ideas are wonderful and it seems as if you have really done your homework on this subject. online casino

  • Daniella Sforza

    This isn't a solution, you'll just be reading endless emails in your inbox.
    There are rumours that at least 3 of the mega social networking sites will be merging to create a mega network.
    It is slated to be called YouTwitFace. :)