Master your social networking time with this “inbox zero” trick


Your social networks are filled with all different kinds of people. Grouping them wisely is one key to making the most of your social media work time. Icons by The Hope Factory


Making time for social networking and staying focused during that time is an important issue. When social networking is part of your marketing, it’s a business issue.

Priya Chandra recently shared a tip for making more of your social networking time. It’s a tip she adapted from my Inbox Zero techniques.

The Facts:

1. Most social networks feed you updates in no particular order.
You get everyone’s updates in time order (Twitter and Google+) or by some mysteriously-determined Top Stories order (Facebook and LinkedIn).

2. Almost every social network or site offers some way to group up the people you are following.
On Twitter, it’s lists. On Google+, it’s circles. In Facebook, you can create Interest Lists. Let’s use the term lists to refer to them all. LinkedIn doesn’t really have an equivalent for lists right now, that I know of, but there are still ways to adapt that we’ll get to below.

3. You have a list of priorities, people who matter most to you.
Some people, like clients and customers, are top priorities. Others are medium priorities. Others are nice to hear from.

4. Different people and different sites require a different frame of mind.
You follow news sites on Twitter to get links to great articles to read. You watch industry insiders on Google+ for insights and comments you want to think over. You friend locals on Facebook who share what’s going on in town and things you can re-share. You scan LinkedIn for job changes and links to read.

The Plan:

Like my inbox zero plan, you’re going to group your social networking time by the frame of mind you need to be in. The frame of mind might be finding and reading articles, looking for items to re-share, or reaching out to people who have made a recent change to congratulate them.

  1. Create lists on your social sites that put your priorities first.
  2. During your social media time, go through your lists in order of importance.
  3. Group the social tasks that require a similar frame of mind together.

Priya explained how this system is working for her:

“I can deal with work related items easily and immediately; savour the personal contacts and skim through the newsletters (which are generally longer articles) during down times.”
“They’re listed in order of importance to me so that when I’m in my ‘social media’ time I know to start at the top of each and make my way down. Sometimes I don’t get through all of them – but that’s ok, I know I’ve gotten to read the ones that are most important to me.”

Sounds like a winner! Applause to Priya for a smart new way to apply this idea.

What about LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is a bit of an exception. You can’t group individuals, but can change which types of updates you see. So you can focus on all the shared articles first, then the profile changes to see if anyone has a new job, then look at who has made new connections. You can choose to eliminate all generic news updates and other types unimportant to you.

What’s your best tip? 

How do you group your contacts or prioritize your social media time?

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About Becky McCray

Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband own a retail liquor store in Alva, Oklahoma, and a small cattle ranch nearby. Becky is an international speaker on small business.

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  1. Priya says

    Oh wow Becky McCray wrote an article based on an idea I had based on one of her ideas. Be cool Priya, be cool.

    Darn, too late. Oh well I’ve never been the cool kid :)

    Oh and that LinkedIn idea is genius – I’ve been struggling with how to ‘group’ people there but using the update types makes so much sense!

  2. Emma_Robert says

    Hello Becky, thanks a lot for the post, it is very useful. I strongly agree with doing the best you can to optimize your social network time. I mean- we all know how wasted it might be and how much we tend to drift to other things.. I use and not linkedin, twitter, Facebook etc. because I mostly appeal local audience so I prioritize by age, gender and address – considering them as ‘potential customers’. If you have any better idea or advice you would like to share I would be very grateful.

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