Hello, my name is Andy…  I’m a Social Media Addict. (all together now…  Hellooooo Andy!) Can you see it – some big, mental-ward-like facility filled with a circle of gray, plastic chairs…  smoke hanging heavy in the air like some support group meeting (enter Nurse Rached)Is this what we’ve come to?

nurse-ratchedSure.  I AM a social media addict.  I’m also a procrastinator.  I’m a last-minute Marty.  If I have 12 hours to get a post written, I’ll start it on the 10th.  If I have a week’s worth of vacation, I start planning events on the 5th day of it… (like now) It’s a sickness…

And then entered SOCIAL MEDIA…

(Da, Da, Duuuuuuuuuuuummmm!)

The BIG time-waster…  How was I going to read or educate myself / my family / my clients when there was Farmville and Mafia Wars to manage? Who was going to manage my clients’ marketing plans, media buys… OH THE HORROR…

I had tweets to read! Now I’m REALLY going to get behind…

I say, “Horse pucky!”

Social media and productivity CAN go hand-in-hand. As a matter of fact, they can help support one-another.

Six years ago, I read maybe a book a year (maybe).  Today I read about a book a week (give or take the occasional audio-book on the way into work). Can I attribute that to social media?  Not entirely, but I can say, if I didn’t start educating myself pretty quickly (reading, researching, engaging) I was going to be left behind!

Social media works.  You just need a plan.  You need to be diligent about tasks that make you “productive” versus distractions that make you “mush.”

So, how do I manage in intake of information with my propensity for procrastination?  The answer is simple. Tasty, bite-sized, manageable “Edu-tizers.”

Instead of taking on books, movies, articles as a “gotta-finish-it-all-right-now” type Mega Meals, I’ve taken my diet of books, newspapers, magazines, social media and television (yes, I still learn from television) and broken it all up into small, but frequent portioned snacks that I take in throughout the day.

Appetizers to Edu-tizers…  easy to remember and fun to say… 🙂

Yes, just how your trainers tell you to maintain higher metabolism with food intake, I’m doing the same with media, social media and education. With this approach, I avoid the mind-numbing coma of a 200 page marathon read or a 2 hour span of The Discovery Channel to more manageable segments of information that my brain can digest and still be nimble enough to move on throughout the day. I also avoid hours upon hours of social media time-wasters… (you know who you are).

Simple? So, how do you start?  Or better yet, how do you cut back to a manageable level?

Below I’ve listed a few “best practices” that have worked for me.  It’s better to set up your own program, but maybe this will help those that can’t seem to manage time and intake with logic and diligence.

#1 Where book stores and libraries fall short, there’s social media!
— okay get that out of your systems.  I buy books – at least one every week.  But the social media wave/tsunami has hit.  If you’re not in a boat that floats or at least a dingy with a good compass, you’re going to be left back in the devastation.

There are volumes upon volumes of information being put out into the social media waters every day.  Why not tap into the biggest wave of information known to human kind since the discovery of spoken word? When I can’t get my “fill” from books, television or any number of publications at the local magazine rack, it’s just a click and search away.  You just need to be willing to look. It takes less time than you think.

#2 – All good things in moderation! (VERY IMPORTANT)
Facebook, MySpace, et al have their attractive (and addictive) features, but remember that social media is about the sharing of information.  If you spend hours a day on one site, you’re bound to lose contact with your productivity, your interests, your LIFEDiversification is key!

I use Facebook (for instance) strictly for social and business-social communication.  I get on to post what I’m up to, to learn what friends, family members and coworkers have going on in their lives, respond (only if necessary), and then I move on (about 10 minutes of my day)No games. No surveys. No nonsense.

#3 – You must feed the monster.
I had a professor that, during the first week of classes, would get to know which students over-engaged (raising hands on every question, writing 20 page compositions instead of the requested five, etc. – you know ’em…), and then, for the rest of the semester would ignore them. Why?  Because it was his intention to drive the conversation to those that needed it the most. The quiet ones.  The ones that sat in the back of the auditorium hoping to learn through osmosis (me)If you don’t participate in the conversation, you’re not going to get anything out of it.

With that professor in mind, I spend about a half hour each day (often more) sorting through blog posts or comments that I intend to add value to (sometimes marked days/weeks before to come back to later).

Is it presumptuous to think that what I have to say is important enough to post it to someone’s blog or Facebook page?  Heck no! That’s what SOCIAL media is all about. With that single post or comment, I’ve started a conversation that will, in turn, further the learning process and be of value to both parties.  Does it happen every time?  No.  But for those that really know how to engage, they are some of the most educational conversations I’ve had since… college!

#4 – Find your “Happy Place” (then file it away).
When I first started this “journey,” I subscribed to every feed and every alert under the sun.  From “Bob the Australian Cat Wrangler” to “The Marketing Gods of Melrose Place,” I wanted to read it all!  But I learned one important thing…  time is an unforgiving bitch!

Sure, I’m “friends with” or “connected to” thousands of people via social media, but I have no question that I can’t absorb all of the conversations going on at all times.  Nor would I want to. I honestly couldn’t care less about Bob from Australia’s cats and the huge dingo they devoured last night (okay, maybe THAT would make me pause).

Break your input streams up into logical lines of conversation. While I have access to thousands of stories, I only read the ones that will make a difference in my life, my career, my well-being.  So, I have my feeds broken up into the following categories:

  • News
  • Branding
  • Marketing
  • Leadership
  • Management
  • Education
  • Personal Fun
  • Music
  • Photography
  • Feed-Specific (generally client-based)

The only categories I read (thoroughly) every day are “News” and “Feed-Specific.”  Otherwise, I skim, mark for future research or commenting and I move on.  This takes me about a half hour every day.  It’s a great way to start the day and a great way to wake up my brain.

#5 All posts have their place:
The social media waters get pretty muddy from time-to-time.  It’s constantly churning and dredging up things that, well, just don’t need to be seen / read / heard.  Think of it this way, if you don’t want “it” displayed on a billboard in the middle of the town square, delete, delete, delete!

Do I use Facebook for business?  Certainly.  But I separate what I do for my company and clients from what I do personally.  Don’t bring your work home with you and don’t bring your home to work with you.


God knows how many blogs / online publications I read on a yearly basis (right now, my Google feed reader has 1,373 RSS feeds pumping knowledge through my keyboard and into my brain…).   And without social media, I wouldn’t be able to provide my clients (or my family) with the quality information and support that I do today.

Don’t get me wrong, social media can be a slippery slope. But with the right plan and just a little discipline, you can make it work for you.

How does your social media diet stack up?  Are you a lean, mean fighting machine or has the weight of the social media tsunami washed away all hope? (please make the metaphors stop)

Hope to see you in the social media stew!

Keep Cooking!
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef