3 Steps Toward Using Social for Business

I recently celebrated my five-year anniversary of using social media for business purposes. After spending a couple years on various social sites from a personal standpoint, 2009 was my year to break out and learn about the benefits that come by using it as a tool at work.


You want to learn it all quickly and easily?  I’d be lying if I told you it was easy or quick.

In reality, during my first year I was like a child finding her way down an unknown path.  I had moments of trepidation, then things would click and I’d be virtually sprinting from site to site and idea to idea.  I soon realized that I was using hours each night after my kids went to bed to teach myself the basics of social networking with other business professionals. Back then, some of the great tools that we have in 2014 were not around. Still, it was all a valuable step in my career development.

I quickly determined that I needed a social media plan in order to maximize my efficiency and time used for learning.  My thought was to create 3 easy steps I could take and stick with. Like I was, people new to the social media platforms today may be overwhelmed reading blogs, connecting on Facebook, networking on LinkedIn, and building relationships on Twitter.

I’m constantly asked how I find the time to blog and use social media. My answer is simple, I schedule time and I use some simple tools to help organize my online experience. I also make choices about which platforms I use daily vs. those I only check on occasion. Today, I’m sharing some tools I use to make it all work easier.

1. Reading Industry Blogs. One of my greatest sources of industry information and perspective is blogs. Lots of blogs. The only way to manage this effectively is by subscribing to the various blog feeds using a reading tool. Feedly allows you to aggregate all the blogs and other news sources you like into one place.  Then, anytime a blog or news outlet posts, it updates in your reader.

I’ve found that by checking my reader in the morning, then around lunchtime, I can stay on top of many trends in my industry as well as the current news.  It’s also a great way to search for information in the publications I trust.  My advice is to click here on Feedly and set one up.  Then, subscribe to my blogs (Human Resources Today and the HR Ringleader blog).  We use easy “subscribe” buttons so you can put us in your reader.

2. Determine which social media site you’ll use daily. I use Twitter as my primary site because I like the fast-paced conversation and information sharing. It’s a place where I can speak directly to the HR and recruiting pros so I can develop closer relationships with them. The way to manage this is to use a tool like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite.

Once you use Twitter, you quickly realize there are certain people you would like to follow more closely than all the thousands of people you may actually be “following.” By using Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, you can create specific lists of those people you find most relevant and have a separate column of only those people’s tweets. It’s a great tool.

You can also have keyword searches for all of your important topics. In my Hootsuite, I have columns for HR, recruiting, sourcing, Human Resources, HR technology, etc. You’ll quickly learn you can customize your information the way you’d like to see it. When I was a practicing HR leader, two of my responsibilities were leading payroll and benefits. I had constant searches on Twitter for both of those topics and this helped me cut down on any time I may have had to search for the latest info.

3. Don’t re-create the wheel, try Slideshare. Slideshare is the largest social site used by business professionals who want to share presentations, videos, webinars, infographics and other business information. You can view presentations and spark ideas about topics you need to cover. You can also search presentations for information on various business topics. This will save you time and also allow you to share your presentations and connect with other business professionals online.

The thing to remember is you cannot do it all every day. Once you realize this, you’re golden. I can’t possibly use all social media sites every day. It would be impossible. So, FaceBook and LinkedIn are sites I check on a weekly basis. Depending on your situation, you may choose one of these sites as your daily and Twitter as something you check only occasionally. The point is that you cannot do it all, so don’t try. Manage this by setting certain times each day when you will check a site and post or reply to people. This will ensure you are managing your time and social media is not managing you.

If you’re new to using social for business, now you have some solid first steps to get you on the right track. If you have any questions or strategies to share, you can reach me at….

Trish McFarlane, VP of Human Resource Practice,

Brandon Hall Group, or @TrishMcFarlane

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