How to stay current on social media (in just 30 minutes a day)

Are you crazy busy? These eight easy steps will help you be in the know when it comes to blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and more.

Does this scenario sound familiar? You have no time—you’re stuck in meetings all day—yet your boss is asking you to stay on top of all things social media-related.

After all, you need to continue learning do your job more effectively and efficiently. Plus, you want to stay smart about industry trends.

Did I get that right?

It’s the reality for me, and I’m guessing it’s the same for lots of you out there.

This is the topic I presented on recently at the Southern Public Relations Federation Conference in Destin, Fla., to a group of PR professionals from Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana.

In my presentation, I laid out eight strategies for staying up-to-date on all the changes, new products/tools, and trends in the digital world. Here they are:

Strategy No. 1: Read 100 blogs in 15 minutes a day

I start most days by scanning my Feedly page. For the uninitiated, Feedly is a blog-reader tool (much like Google Reader). I prefer Feedly because of the way it’s laid out, but most folks use Google Reader. You can use either.

The point is to organize your blog reading system. I organize my blogs by geography, discipline, clients’ industry blogs, and other miscellaneous categories (fun, business blogs, etc.). With Feedly, I can scan headlines in about 15 minutes a day (I give myself a hard stop). I look for posts relevant to clients and interesting to me. I bookmark the ones that meet those criteria, maybe share them on Twitter or Facebook, and move on.

Strategy No. 2: Scan and save

This is where a social bookmarking tool called Diigo does some serious heavy lifting for me. I use Diigo to not only archive posts (by tags/topics), but also to share them using the handy Diigo bookmarklet (see below).

My Diigo archive is a goldmine of articles and blog posts I’ve saved over the last five to years. I use these articles and posts in presentations, client decks, blog posts, and for reference in client meetings. It’s invaluable information, and it’s at my fingertips because of this “scan and save” process I’ve developed (not all that groundbreaking, keep in mind).

Other folks use tools like Instapaper and Delicious, which work fine. Everyone has tools they prefer. The point is to develop a process where you can scan and save a number of posts and articles on the Web quickly and efficiently.

Strategy No. 3: Maximize downtime

You know that time you waste each day standing in line for coffee, bus commuting on the bus or train, or (gulp) using the bathroom? You need to start using that time to your advantage. Use tools such as Flipboard, Reeder (iPhone app), and Cadmus (see below) to stay abreast of industry trends and business news. You have to maximize your downtime.

Strategy No. 4: Make Twitter lists your new BFF

A colleague and I lamented this point a couple months ago: Why don’t more people take advantage of Twitter lists? They give you a great way to make Twitter smaller. Consider the opportunities, such as lists to follow industry thought leaders or bloggers you want to get to know better. You can even create private Twitter lists to follow competitors, industry influencers, and other folks you don’t want your competitors or others seeing.

What’s more, you can steal other people’s Twitter lists for you own. Why do all the work when someone else may have already done it. For example, I follow a list Lee Odden created called “MinneTweeple.” It’s a great list of interactive marketers and PR folks in the Twin Cities.

Use Twitter lists to your advantage to make Twitter smaller—and more manageable—on a daily basis.

Strategy No. 5: Turn on the radio

I’m not talking about the radio, but podcasts instead. Again, consider your downtime. Specifically, think about the time you’re captive, where you have nothing to do but the task at hand. For me, it’s moving the lawn. I throw in the ear buds and spend 45 minutes mowing the lawn and listening to my favorite podcast (and thus, getting smarter about my craft).

My favorites are the long-running For Immediate Release, plus Marketing Over Coffee and Jay Baer’s new podcast Social Pros, in which he interviews front-line social media folks doing real work. Very useful.

Strategy No. 6: Keep tabs on news in your industry

There’s an easy way to do this. It’s called Google Alerts. Set them up for journalists, keywords, even competitors in your industry.

Recently, I discovered a new tool called Newsle (thanks Heather Whaling) that serves you up alerts (emails) each time one of your LinkedIn, Facebook, or email database contacts is featured in a news story. It might not seem like much, but this gives you a great way to keep tabs on journalists with whom you’re trying to develop relationships, not to mention colleagues in the industry, business partners, and other influencers.

Here’s an example of an email I received that contains a news story featuring a friend and local agency leader Blois Olson:

Strategy No. 7: Read blogs/sources that curate content weekly

Here’s one thing I learned a while ago about curating content: If someone else is doing it better than you, steal from them. I shamelessly do this with my friend Heather Whaling’s blog, which curates the best posts from the previous week on her blog PRTini. Why reinvent the wheel? Heather already has all the spokes in place.

Don’t do all the work yourself. Seek out those sources that already exist and use that information to your advantage.

Strategy No. 8: Curate your own content

Curating your own content can be just as powerful as reviewing others that have done it for you—especially when there are tools that can do the curating for you. One of them is

Many people use to curate content and share it content on Twitter. I, however, use to curate content and consume it myself. It does all the heavy lifting and serves me a daily/weekly digest of posts from people thinks I find influential/interesting. See below for an example.

Anything you’d add?

Visit the author’s blog, Communications Conversations, to see the full presentation.

Arik Hanson is principal of ACH Communications.


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