9 social media hacks you need to embrace now

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Create a stalker list
Grab a piece of paper, or open a new document and write down a list of the 20 people you most want to interact with in social media -- people you don't know, but want to know. Then, create a list for these people on Twitter and Facebook, and a circle for them on Google +. Where applicable, visit their blogs and bookmark them. Also subscribe to their feeds (via email, not RSS because you'll check your email every day, but not your RSS.) Find them on Instagram, Pinterest, and LInkedin and connect in those places, too.

Done? Starting tomorrow, spend 15 minutes per day interacting with these 20 people. Not in a yucky way, and not in a pandering way. If you have something interesting and relevant to add via Twitter, blog comment, or elsewhere, do it. If you don't, keep your hands to your sides. But pay attention to your list of 20, and find ways to interact with and help them. In short order, they will recognize you and you'll have grown and leveled up your network of social contacts. Make a new list every three to six months.

Interact on Google +
Let me make this clear: If you're reading this, you should be on Google +. Not for the SEO benefit -- although that's not insignificant. Not for the entertainment value -- although the large number of videos and GIFs there can be a hoot. Do it for the opportunity to interact and engage with industry professionals in a comparatively quiet and efficient location. You want to get on Chris Brogan's radar? Or Mari Smith's? Or Brian Solis's? Google + is the place to do it. It's Twitter before Oprah; Quora for the masses; blog comments but easier to use. It may not last, but for now Google + is the place to interact with people that no longer answer every tweet.

Blend personal and professional
Quit worrying about showing your real self in social media. If your social media bios talk only about who you are at work, you're leaving attention on the table. The reality is that unless you're a sword swallower or an astronaut, your personal life is more interesting than your professional life. You're a marketing director for a B2B software company? Yawn. You're a marketing director for a B2B software company, and you happen to grow prize-winning roses? That, I'll remember. What you love makes you memorable in ways that what you do cannot. There's a reason most of my bios say I'm a tequila lover.

Quit obsessing over case studies
How much time do you spend reading case studies, trying to find evidence that social media will work for your company? Case studies should be used for ideation, not ratification. Beyond the fact that case studies are often strategically irrelevant because the company profiled is in a different industry, with different goals, competitors, and customer expectations (among other variances), perhaps the biggest problem with most social media success stories is that the measures of that success are largely without real merit.

Even in the best possible scenario, where the case study in question is extraordinarily applicable to your business goals, social media situation, KPIs, budget, timeline, customer personas, and more (which is a rare alignment indeed), you are placing significant influential value on one outcome. Worry less about what some other company is doing, and worry more about doing your own work.

Social media is too complicated for you to be wasting your time, spinning your wheels on activities and behaviors that won't make much difference. I know these nine hacks will save you time and propel you forward, because I use them all consistently. But I'm sure I've missed many terrific ideas. What are you doing to save time and boost your social media efficiency?

Jay Baer is president of Convince & Convert.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

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Keith Sanders
Keith Sanders February 11, 2012 at 7:22 PM

Good article thanks but I think you said it best in the beginning, Social media marketing takes a tremendous time commitment and for me time is money and I just don't have any more time to give. When I'm not running two companies I have a family and I'm still trying to squeeze in some exercise! I believe in the power of Social media marketing but I also believe in doing the things I'm good at and letting other people do the things they are good at. So for SMM I found a company called Magicbuz that has been around for a few year and they really know what they are doing which means I don't have to worry about Facebook likes and Twitter and blogs, they do it all for me.

Andy Cheng
Andy Cheng February 2, 2012 at 6:07 PM

Thanks for the tips. IFTTT is really neat.

Bliss Hanlin
Bliss Hanlin February 2, 2012 at 2:25 PM

IFTTT is my favorite social tool - and you are right, it flies under the radar. Really happy you mentioned it!

Chris Grant
Chris Grant January 31, 2012 at 7:47 PM

Other than that, thanks for several interesting tips. One I hope people don't follow is Buffer, though. When I've got my social media consumer persona on, the avalanche of repetitive material all from the same person though different sources is boring and extra work.

Chris Grant
Chris Grant January 31, 2012 at 7:42 PM

The word curmudgeon (me) is not happy with how the fine slang word "hack" is being emasculated.

Amy Peveto
Amy Peveto January 31, 2012 at 5:59 PM

I spend 15-20 minutes each morning looking through what people are talking about on Twitter, and RT'ing links and info I think provide value to our company's followers. Scheduling these posts are important so, as you mentioned, you aren't consistently distracted from the other things you're trying to get done.

However, posting is not interaction. It's important that you take time throughout the day to check on your social media accounts. Your status or tweet may have gone out automatically, but what if someone responded? What if a follower has asked a question and you know the answer? Automation is great for time-saving, but it shouldn't become a crutch.