Social media provides an effective avenue for enlarging your sphere of influence. But as mentioned before, your absolute bottom line is the quality of your content. Influence is worthless without it. But assuming you post quality content, here are a few suggestions…
Use but Don’t Be Abused
Every person has 24 hours in a day. Recall the economic nature of time discussed previously: where there is time spent, there is opportunity cost. Do not let social media master your clock. More specifically…
Blogs. I highly recommend blogging, but decide how much time you can invest in advance. Also, don’t expect to attract a huge audience. Your priority is quality content. If you build it [with integrity], they will come.
Facebook. I recommend this site with reservations. I have found it helpful for networking and keeping up with friends and family. I have also watched many people spend entirely too much time using it.
Twitter. I am still test-driving this site. So far, I have only found it helpful to (1) keep up with a few important people; and (2) keep those who follow me up to date, especially with respect to new blog posts. Other than that, Jim West was right to advise me: “Twitter is twaddle.” I cannot recommend this site at this time.
Other sites. Taking a look at the wagon above, you’ll notice some other popular social media sites. YouTube can be effective if you want to publish short clips that are readily accessible. Flickr is great for picking up nice photos for blog posts (like the bandwagon!). Digg can serve as a vehicle for distributing your content. These sites are just the tip of the iceberg, but they tend to be the most popular.
Staying in Control
Blogs are wonderful, especially in the world of RSS and the like. I am able to keep up with reading about 40 blogs. This is very manageable in my world, especially because I can read new posts on my phone (using Google Reader). If I spend a few minutes reading while walking here or there, I incur minimal opportunity cost.
I also keep up to date on facebook using my phone. Again, I am able to multi-task. If something demands a greater amount of attention, then I will save it for the evening. If you cannot do this, then squeeze in 15 minutes a day for a couple of weeks and ‘test-drive’ a social media site for yourself. Determine if and how it fits into your schedule.
On my website, I invest a little time nearly every day to developing ideas and post outlines. I check comments and reply if necessary. My content deals with topics that I desire to study, so my time is well spent.
I would encourage most people to test-drive the most prominent social media sites (if they haven’t already). Social media does seem to be a wave of the future, though I cannot tell how big it will become. It is not inherently bad, and using it has many benefits (as discussed in previous posts). But when using social media sites, remain others-centered and content-oriented. This is the balance I wish to strike.