Building relationships with limited time for social media

a clock showing the passage of time

After reading my personal look at the ROI of social media, a reader asked for advice on how to build relationships when you have limited time on social media. My quick answer could have been to pick one form of social media and concentrate on using it. Or I could have said that the return possible out of social media depends upon the time and commitment you make to it. But I wanted to give a more thoughtful, detailed answer. Here it is.

Pick one form of social media

If your time is limited, it is important you make the most of it and figure out the most important reason you are on social media

  • Who do you want to talk to?
  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • Where online do you find the people you want to get to know?

Make the most of your time on social media

If your time for social media is limited, you need to learn how to use your chosen platform effectively.

For example on Twitter:

  • Set up lists
  • Use searches for keywords or better yet hashtags relevant to your purpose for using Twitter
  • Use a tool like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or Jugnoo that allows you to quickly and easily see your feed, mentions, direct messages, lists and searches.
    • If using one with vertical columns, keep the most important columns on the left. The order of columns may change from time to time.
  • Be on and actively interacting an average of at least once a day

To learn more, read my posts on how to effectively use Twitter

For example on LinkedIn

  • Know the fundamentals of LinkedIn
  • Join a limited number of relevant, active, well-moderated groups and be active in them
    • Get the daily or weekly digests of active
  • Look into if being active in the “Questions” section could benefit you
  • Be on and actively interacting an average of at least once a week

Learn more by reading my posts on using LinkedIn

In short, learn tools (such as alerts/e-mail alerts), techniques and opportunities for you to be able to get in and out quickly but be active and visible.

Meet people face to face

Find opportunities to meet in person the people whom you’ve established online relationships.

  • Ask them to meet for coffee or a drink
  • Attend meetups specifically organized for your online community or that they will attend
  • Go to events and conferences that attract the people you’re getting to know

Put the emphasis on getting to know someone and not trying to score some sore of objective. Building any kind of relationship is often a long term, gradual process.

The coffee shop analogy

I like to talk about social media as an extension of how we live our offline lives.

When it comes to using social media to build relationships, I like to use a coffee shop analogy.

If you go to the same coffee shop every day at the same time, you start to recognized people and be recognized. You start to chat and get to know each other. Over time, some relationships will deepen. If you go to the coffee shop multiple times a day on a regular basis, the potential to establish and grow relationships increases.

Go to a different coffee shop every day or go at random times, you’re not likely to establish relationships. Go to the same coffee shop once a week or once every few months, you’re almost certainly not going to establish any relationships.

The point is that social media is like a coffee shop. Pick one you like and establish a pattern of using it that is likely to help you spark a relationship and then follow through to see if it grows.

The more time you invest, the greater the return

Remember “Cheers?” The bar where everyone knows your name?

On social media, they may not scream “Norm” or whatever your name is when you appear. But like the famous barfly the more time you spend in your favourite haunt, the more likely you are to establish and nurture relationships. The greater the investment of time, the greater the return.

At the same time, you need to determine if the return is worth your time. Just don’t give up too soon, social media is all about the long game

Make the time

.My greatest advice though is to find more time to invest in social media. Figure out how you can make it a priority.

Better yet, learn how to integrate social media into your life or what I describe as making it a behaviour. I’ve confessed to being a Twitter addict. But I’m convinced my life is better for how it is seamlessly part of how I live.

What are your tips for building relationships on social media for the time-challenged?

photo credit: ToniVC via photopin cc