Does automating some of your social media activity automatically make it, well, less social? That’s the question I’ve been batting around a bit with some social mediaists. See, I think that small business owners sometimes stay away from some new media tools because they seem like a lot of work with little immediate return.
I’ve long preached the middle ground that brings some relief for time strapped business owners trying to juggle it all and that middle ground includes the “smart” use of tools that help you get more done with less time invested.
Now, in most cases I suggest utilizing some of these tools in conjunction with good old fashion social networking that is individual and one to one. Automation is not a substitute, more of a supplement.
Here are a couple shortcuts and resources that come to mind.
1) TweetLater or EasyTweets – allows me to auto follow back anyone who follows me and auto send a welcome message via DM. – This one gets mixed reviews from Twitter maniacs as it can be abused – don’t use it to auto send your spam selling messages, use it to greet a new follower in a fun and engaging way. I get lots of messages back from my auto greets as many people don’t sense it’s an auto generated message. You’ve still got to reach out to people and connect, but this gets the ball rolling automatically and saves a great deal of time. (I’ll do a screencast on how to do this if I get some requests)
2) Twitter Tools – A WordPress plug-in that republishes my blog posts to Twitter, effectively letting followers know I have new content on my blog. Again, mixed in with twitter posts of a more organic nature this is a decent way to keep content flowing and generate some traffic to your blog.
3) Twitter application in Facebook – posts my Twitter updates to Facebook status. I seem to have a different network on Facebook than I do on Twitter so this helps spread the content. I don’t think this is a high level use of Facebook by any means, but I do get interaction from Facebook folks from this activity.
4) Feedheads application in Facebook – I read lots of RSS feeds and using Google Reader and the Feedheads application for Facebook I post my shared Reader items to my Facebook profile each day.
5) TweetDeck – Desktop application that allows me to show Twitter searches, DMs and Replies in one screen. There are any number of tools to get this done, but I like the interface of TweetDeck
6) Facebook Toolbar for Firefox – shows status updates of network in the background as I work. This can be annoying but it keeps you in touch easily with your network. I’ve snagged interviews with journalists looking for sources this way.
So, what are some of your socially accepted shortcuts?