Social media gets a bad rap in the workplace, yet 9 out of every 10 small businesses uses social media as a valued marketing tool. Even so, when it comes to productivity, we shun social media as a guilty distraction. Is social media always such a nasty time waste or can it be good for productivity?

Here are seven ways to use social media for productivity. And a bonus tip.

1. Set up groups for your projects.

Most social media networks have group features that allow you to communicate and organize group work effectively. Facebook and LinkedIn are prime examples and in each you can make groups private or public. Use these groups to organize files, start discussions, and set meetings with events. Use Twitter lists in a similar fashion to keep track of each group member’s contribution to a conversation.

2. Use messenger features to hone in on resources.

Messenger tools are a fast and efficient way of communicating with your team members, clients and resources. Use Facebook and Google+ chat to hone in on them. Start conversations with key contributors and potential collaborators to focus in on important details of your project. You can use messenger features to quickly clarify or delegate.

3. Conduct social research.

Social media is a hot bed of ripe information. Take advantage of the candor and conduct in depth research with the use of social media networks. In many sites you can set up discussions, such as Reddit, LinkedIn or Google+, or you can simply do a targeted search. Find out what your peers are discussing, hashtagging, liking, even eating related to your topic. You can interact with them and ask specific questions to gain further insight and make valuable connections.

4. Monitor a topic through targeted search.

Social media is continuously evolving, shifting and changing pace, but one thing for certain is there’s always someone talking, or in this case typing. This means there’s an ever-growing pool of information about your topic being spewed over the web. To stay current, use social media to monitor your topic. Hootsuite is a great tool for this because you can set up search streams within different social networks in your dashboard. Another great tool is Social Mention, which monitors over 100 social media sites to provide you with the most current and most relevant activity on your topic.

Social Media Productivity5. Make connections.

Recruiting talent is just a click away with today’s social media networks. Social media productivity means using your friends, followers and connections to ask for introductions, acquire recommendations, and build the strongest team possible for your work. Maybe you’re looking for a mentor, or maybe you’re looking for a team member, either way, harness your social skills. Don’t be shy and take advantage of how close we’ve become, even miles apart.

6. Organize resources visually.

There are many visual social media productivity tools, and one such is Pinterest. It was once thought the only users of Pinterest were housewives and crafters, but this network is brilliant when it comes to visually organizing your resources. You can create mood boards, collect inspiration, or even gather informative articles all in one place easily accessed anywhere. Flickr is another tool for collecting visuals, but in a different way. Sort pictures from your events, and then tag and share them with your followers.

7. Ask a question.

If you’ve ever wondered how to do a task you’ve never done before all you have to do is ask. Google it, search a video tutorial on YouTube, or post a question in a forum. Productivity has never been simpler because knowledge has never been closer. The web is overpopulated with tutorials and how to’s so nowadays, all you need is the ability to efficiently search Google.

8. Stay on task.

With all these social media productivity tips it’s hard to tell you to just turn it off. But sometimes, that’s what’s needed. When you’re not using it, turn off messenger features so that you can select who you chat with. Schedule your posts in advance so you don’t disturb your workflow. And, most importantly, take breaks from work, take breaks from social media, and take breaks from your screen.

If you’re still feeling a little bummed about your social media productivity, here are 5 keys to liking social media again.

Featured photo credit: Jason Howie via flickr.com

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