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.
Homepage image sources can be found here and here.