Avoiding Social Media Overwhelm

Feeds. Widgets. Trackbacks. Pingbacks. Tweets. Posts. How is a person supposed to keep up with social media and still hold down a day job?

No doubt, building a presence on social networking sites and in the blogosphere can be overwhelming. There’s so much to learn, and so much content to be generated that a person could get lost in the maze trying. Here are three tips for staying in control.

1. Take Your Time

As Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Instead of worrying about doing everything all at once, give yourself permission to build your social media platform over time. Sure, there are benefits to doing a full-out launch of tweets, posts, and blog entries all at the same time, but if this isn’t realistic given your time and resources, consider starting small and building from there.

Which aspect of social media most interests or excites you? Maybe you’re a blogger at heart, just waiting for the opportunity to share your opinions, expertise, and perspective in 500 words or less. Or maybe the brevity of tweets fits your writing style and availability. Everyone has to start somewhere. Why not focus on an area that feels most accessible and engaging to you, get comfortable with a routine, and grow your social-media presence from there, adding a new area when you’re ready? Slow and steady can still win the race.

2. Use Technology to Your Advantage

If technology has opened up a myriad of new opportunities for communication—leading to the potential for overwhelm and overload—technology has at least also managed to provide us with some shortcuts as well.

First, the quickest and easiest way to get bang for your buck when building a social media presence is to link your Twitter and Facebook accounts so that all of your tweets get automatically posted to Facebook. In this way, you can be on two social media sites for the “price” or time of one. (Visit http://mashable.com/2009/05/25/twitter-to-facebook/ for options on how to do so.)

Second, consider taking advantage of software and services like Hootsuite or Ping.fm that allow you to schedule your tweets and posts in advance so you can stay organized and ensure that updates go out on time. (Check out http://www.socialoomph.com/ or http://techie-buzz.com/featured/schedule-future-twitter-tweets.html for more ideas.)

Third, don’t underestimate the value of a smart phone—whether it be an iPhone, a Blackberry, or similar product. Phone apps for social media sites make it easy for you to share up-to-the-minute tweets and posts with your fan base by typing a few sentences into your phone while you are taxiing to the airport gate or cabbing it to the conference center. You can even post blog entries from your smart phone, which can be useful when you’ve got something time-sensitive to share.

3. It Takes a Village

Professionals often fall prey to the mentality that they have to do everything themselves. But keeping up with all of the social networking sites by yourself may not only be overwhelming, it may also be ineffective. Consider this. While it’s true that some celebrities and corporate all-stars like to create their social media posts themselves, far more hire others to help them stay on top of things—not only to make sure that relevant posts are shared on time but also to ensure that spontaneous opportunities to reach out to one’s network are capitalized upon. Like any area of your business, a well thought out strategy will be much more effective than a knee-jerk or shotgun approach.

Start small and begin where you’re most comfortable, take advantage of technology to simplify your life, and be open to bringing others on for support in the future. Social media offers a whole new point of contact for hundreds of potential customers and there is no better time than the present to start reaching out to them.

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