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Right Tool Right Job- Social Media

Right Tool Right Job- Social Media

I had this idea that I bet Leon and the others can riff on. Basically: there are plenty of tools out there for lots of aspects of life. Let’s make sure we propose the proper tool (or our take on a good tool) for the right job. From managing our tasks and priorities to determining how best to engage our communities, let’s all start looking around for the right tools.

My first swing at this: Social Media.

Blogs are a Platform

Use blogs to communicate with a community about what interests you. If you’re a corporate blogger, write about the good and the bad about your subjects. If you’re just writing about yourself and your passions, great, but try to make the posts relevent to people outside of yourself. Be real. Be fresh. Communicate in both directions. Enable comments. And write back to those who comment. (Disclaimer: as a blog is a very multi-purpose tool, some of you will disagree with me on this all- comment!)

Blogs can also be used as a knowledge base, but aren’t *as* good at that function, because that relies on updates, and/or edits to fix the problems. (my favorite knowledge base is a wiki- see below).

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I prefer WordPress (or hosted WordPress), but Blogger, Vox, and several others are equally good.

Wikis are Good for Knowledge Bases

Wikis are editable websites that permit multiple users to interact and easily edit details on a page. We used a wiki as the core organizing tool for PodCamp, our unconference about new media community tools. We used it for everything from posting up hotel deals for the area, to scheduling the sessions, to registration.

I prefer PBWiki and also Wikia, but there are tons out there.

Twitter is for Presence

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Lots of people have opinions in all directions about Twitter. Briefly, it’s a tool that lets you post 140 characters to a group of friends via SMS, the web, IM, or several 3rd party apps. The site officially asks the question: “What are you doing?,” but you can use the tool however you want.

Use Twitter to point out items of interest on your blog, on other people’s blogs, and in the world around you. Contribute to the larger conversation amongst your friends lists (Twitter works best when you add lots of friends). Use it to show you or your organization’s presence. (And if you want to add me, I’m chrisbrogan.)

Flickr is for Color and Vibrance

Using a photo sharing site like Flickr adds a visual appeal to your social media toolkit. If you’re an organization, take snaps of the people in the company. Take pictures at your social events. Post pictures from your public excursions. And/or take pictures of things that interest you specifically as a human working within that organization.

One of my all time favorite examples of this is following Dave Gray, CEO and founder of XPlane. His personal passions translate well into the nature of his business, which is a visual thinking practice (they help organizations explain complex things with clever visualizations).

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Other similar sites are Zooomr and Photobucket. There are plenty more.

Podcasts and Videoblogging are for Relationship

Building an audio podcast or a video product for your organization or yourself is a great way to bring even more humanity into the picture. Not unlike the pictures, a podcast adds another content experience, and also adds a voice (and better still a face) to the experience. Podcasts can be in the “how to” vein of using a product or service. They can be advice podcasts, which also build up your reputation as a thought leader in your space.

It’s hard to recommend tools here. There are lots of ways to skin this cat. The most important advice? Don’t spend a lot. Don’t buy some fancy solution from someone charging you thousands to make a podcast. You can do it for free or cheap, including hosting, by just looking around a little.

I recommend Odeo for the easiest audio recording experience. I recommend Blip.tv as a good hosting site for videoblogging/video podcasts (don’t get hung up on the names). If you want to edit things a bit, for audio, try Audacity. For video, use either the built-in Windows Media Maker or iMovie on a Mac before trying anything tricky and expensive.

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RSS Readers and Search Tools for Ego-Surfing

It’s great that you’re going to engage with all the tools above to reach out to people, but are you listening? If you’re lucky, there are lots of blogs and podcasts and other websites talking about you or your product or your service. Not everything is going to happen on your site. You’ve gotta find the conversations and engage people on their own turf.

Use a good RSS reader. These are tools to let you subscribe to blogs and podcasts such that you read lots of things from one website or application. (Talking further about RSS- Really Simple Syndication- would take up another 2000 words) I like Google Reader, or you can use Bloglines, or one of the built-in RSS readers. The better you get, the more you should demand from the reader.

To track what people are saying about you elsewhere, use sites like Technorati and Google Blogsearch. Both let you make RSS feeds from your searches, which you can then just throw into your RSS reader for “ego surfing.” This tool, more than any others, is vital to understanding how you or your brand or your product are perceived. Hint: if there’s nothing out there, you need more work promoting what you’re doing.

And Now, Your Take

What else have I missed? What other social media tools would you recommend to do the job right? Do you feel I’ve used these tools inappropriately? Jump into the comments section and let us know. That’s the beauty of it, after all.

Chris Brogan is co-founder of PodCamp, a free unconference about new media community tools. He keeps a blog at [chrisbrogan.com]

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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