Perhaps I spend too much on-line analyzing social media usage. I am starting to wonder if people have forgotten about the face to face side. I cross between both worlds in my work and my personal life. As an entrepreneur and as an expat, it is essential for me to connect, communicate, listen and interact with both the growing pool of knowledge and individuals in my global network. It is how I grow my business and myself as an learning being. Given that there are only so many hours in the day, we must prioritise everything we do in order to accomplish that which is most important and most beneficial.
It comes down to an equation of value for time. Let’s face it, a lot of the work we do is not monetarily compensated. We either do things for the love of it, for the need for it, or for the love of someone or something that needs it. So is the life of a social entrepreneur. That, of course, does not mean that I do not like or need to make money. It simply means that we are compensated in other ways for our efforts. After all, I would like to see someone try to place a monetary value on the 15 extra minutes I take to snuggle with my kids in the morning before we launch into the hectic morning routine. It might be easier to monetise the effort it takes to share a bit of my expertise with a non-profit organisation that I believe has the ability to empower women all over the world, including me. But I win in the end for feeling that I have done my part. Then of course there is the countless hours building business plans and laying the groundwork for it before a new business becomes profitable.
All these tools that we use to optimise our interaction with both those we know personally and those we share common interests with are time consuming. As individuals we are bombarded by messages from every corner. It is just for this purpose that I am learning to apply my work practices to my life practices. Turn things off when there is something that requires (or deserves) total attention. This mean Blackberries, SMS, twitter, the computer, the phone. And then pair down to the messenging sources that provide the greatest and more effective impact. Use them for the proper purpose and no more. Remember, there are only so many hours in the day. Take the time to have the conversation with the neighbor or client without checking the vibrating phone in your pocket. They’ll appreciate it (and you will get much more out of the conversation than “nice day, eh”.
So social media optimisation, well, there is so much more than ever before. I look at it this way. There is a balance between a message buzzed and a message swarm. If you are sending the same message through many overlapping outlets, you create a swarm that will send your target running. So place wisely and thoughtfully. Don’t waste their time by creating too many complete spaces to find you. Create portals so that they can get to your central information and can be updated when it changes (based on their needs). And remember who is a “friend” and who is a “connection”. Your “friends” are proud of you but may not want to hear about every little new product or service you produce. Your “connections” probably like to know you are real, but every update on your two year old’s development may get a bit tiring. Optimising the time you spend on sending the messages so that you have time to hear the responses makes the social element far more fruitful.