12 Most Effective Habits of “Social People”
I make it a habit to re-read the “7 Habits of Effective People” by Stephen Covey to reinforce the principles in my own work habits. On my last review, it occurred to me that with the amount of time people spent engaging in social communications, how might those habits have been written different today?
While most will agree that connecting with your friends, colleagues, customers and influencers online is advantageous to personal and corporate branding building, the same number would likely agree that it takes much time and effort to successfully integrate online engagement with traditional offline communications. Do effective people require new habits to be more effective in this new socially-connected world?
I know many who have fared better than others in managing the time spent online. So I surveyed those colleagues who I felt manage their online time with the greatest effect and it produced the following list of the 12 Most Effective Habits of “Social People”.
1. Listen First
Your time will be better spent if you’ve first understood your audience’s lingo, needs and habits. Learn about the audience before you try to engage them. Not only will it save you time it will make your communications that much more impactful.
2. Be Selective
There’s wisdom in the adage “fish where the fish are at”; however, your audience is likely engaged in multiple networks and are not willing to engage YOU in all of them. Be selective and focus on those networks with the highest possible return on engagement.
3. Create an Ecosystem
Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan is very applicable in social media communications. The key is the makeup of the plan. A social campaign works best when created in the ecosystem format where each channel – and each communication plan within each channel – links the audience to the next element, forming a self-managing, self-evolving ecosystem. This leverages the community to spread your message along with their communications to build your awareness.
There’s much to be said about automation tools such as scheduled blogs posts, tweets, etc. It’s an effective use of technology that maximizes the time you can spend communicating “in real life”. However, be careful not to automate yourself right out of “real” conversations. Automating news and value-added information is good in limits but does not replace the power of real-time conversations and dialogue.
5. Be Honest
It takes more effort and time to create the character you wish to be perceived as than it does to be yourself. Social Media allows you to hide behind words but is permanent and can be seen by everyone. So aside from the extra effort required to communicate a persona you are not, it’s less effective as there are more people watching who will call your bluff. If you have to be fake to communicate yourself or your brand, consider changing the business you’re in.
6. Use Tracking & Alert Tools
Technology is your friend. Using simple tools like Google Alerts or more powerful social media monitoring and analysis tools like Alterian’s SM2, will allow you to focus your time on communicating vs monitoring and processing data.
Technology is your friend, pt 2. Applications like Shoutlet’s content syndication tools allow you to publish content to multiple networks and customizable content widgets placed on web properties across your socialsphere. Further, their monitoring and social CRM functions provide amazing reporting and analytics that allow you to focus your limited time on those people or communities with the greatest impact to your brand.
8. Solicit Influencers
The beauty of social media communication is the” power of many”. You’re not alone. By focusing on building strong brand advocates you create a community of influencers who, with the right content support, will spread your message virally across their networks. Create messaging and conversations that your audience is willing share, and then provide them both the means and incentive to do so.
Developing the right content is critical to effective social media communications yet with so many channels in which to communicate, you can burn a lot of time on content creation. Once you’ve created an ecosystem by listening to your audience (see points 1 – 3 above), create content that can be leveraged across multiple platforms, both online and off. For example, a white paper or technical specification document can repurposed for your corporate blog. Key highlights from each blog post can be extrapolated as Tweets or content to be shared on LinkedIn user groups, etc.
10. Quality & Focus
It’s the Tortoise and the Hare story. Focused, quality content wins the social media race over volume every day. Efforts to be engaged online all day, every day will force the creation of content without focus and inauthentic dialogue that will only hurt you in the long run. Stick to your core messages and your audience will respond in greater numbers.
A social media strategy must be controlled by you or your brand personally to be effective but there is nothing wrong with soliciting outside help to create or focus that strategy initially or coordinate and manage the community efforts on an ongoing basis. Even smaller businesses with lower budgets can solicit assistance from PR and Marketing students looking for co-op hours.
As with any other activity in life, scheduling – and taking – the time to complete the task is critical. Start slow and don’t over promise yourself to your audience. Scheduling time once or twice a day to review incoming messages and responding to the most critical (prioritizing or assigning less critical items to others) will not only make you more effective, it will make the online social experience more enjoyable.
Social networks and applications have been created with addictive, gamification practices that can suck you in, causing burn out to those who are not careful. On the other side, those who fear the time commitment and avoid the online channel altogether miss out on personal or business opportunities.
Understanding and practicing these 12 most effective habits of “social people” will establish the correct expectations for you and your audience. Good luck!
Please join the community by sharing the practices you’ve discovered that make your social media time more effective.