The last time I checked, we are all still only getting 24 hours in a day. Yet, according to current data, the average American is engaging in some form of social media for 3.2 hours per day via a smartphone, tablet or computer. This is not really a surprise given that there are well over 300 platforms to choose from, with Facebook leading the pack with over 1 billion users. Plus, it is so much fun and endlessly compelling.
I love social media and as a speaker, author, and trainer, it’s an awesome way to share lots of information very fast. I can lose myself into thoughtfully crafting a comment to a LinkedIn group post but before I know it, an hour is gone! Oh no, not again.
My 26 year old son Adam reminds me that social media is a big help in business and in life, and indeed he is absolutely right. Today I get to Skype with a student in Germany and we will get to see each other’s faces as we talk. That’s fabulous. I am prepping a speech for a New York City organization and the first contact with the organizer happened over Linked In. Very cool. Last weekend, I posted on Facebook that I was speaking at a conference in New Hampshire which was a place I had never been. Lots of suggestions came my way for places to check out. Thanks, guys! I get to stay connected to people who live very far away from me and that feels very important.
This 24 hour thing still has me challenged though. Given how fast the technology is changing, my strongest sense tells me that this is just the beginning and then what?
In light of this, my questions are:
- How much time are we engaging with real people? (My answer: Not enough)
- Are there never enough hours in your day? (My answer: Never enough)
- Are you tired from input overload? (My answer: Yes, definitely yes)
Since time is the most precious non-negotiable commodity we have, here are ten ways to put the flesh and blood “person” back into our days. If you think that we need to start setting some self-imposed limits and boundaries on our connectedness, this post is for you and me.
1. Power Down & Unplug. Glance in at any restaurant and look at the number of people who are on a device while sitting with others. It’s simple. Just turn it off…whatever it is. I loved this New York Times article that highlights a trend where colleagues are placing their phones in the middle of the table and the first one to answer it has to pay for everyone’s lunch. Nine times out of ten, it can wait. Take a hike and leave the phone at home. Scratch that! You need it for the GPS.
2. Schedule It. If you are finding that you do not have time for important things (like taking a shower), schedule time each day to go onto social media and hold to it. Be sure to tell your colleagues, friends and family that you are doing this so they won’t be concerned when they don’t hear from you within 30 seconds.
3. Liking & Comments = Engaging Support. Make the most of the time you are giving your connections on Facebook and LinkedIn. They are both designed for building relationships and are über-powerful places to network. Be generous with your “Likes” and make supportive and informed comments that represent your point of view while touting those of your colleagues. Include your own links and say why you are including them. Spelling and grammar count.
4. Educate with Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest. Offer content that others can use. A thought-provoking quote, a mind-blowing photo, or a strong opinion about a timely current event not only builds relationships but also your brand.
5. Acknowledge and applaud the work of others. Social media makes clear that we are not alone in our challenges, our insecurities, and our triumphs. Give credit and support the good works of others. Others will do the same for you in the form of endorsements and kudos when you least expect it.
6. Pick up the phone. If someone you know posts something that either worries you or is deserving of an “attagirl” (or boy), respond not only to the post but pick up the phone to speak to the person. The written word only goes so far. There is no substitute as satisfying as hearing your name and talking with another human being who asks, “What’s going on?”
7. Cut yourself – and everyone else – a break. What if you don’t feel like going on social media today? What if other things in life take priority over checking Vine, Google + and all the rest. A college professor calls this phenomenon “FOMO” – Fear of Missing Out. It’s fine. The world will still be there tomorrow.
For these reasons, let us not take insult or get depressed if our posts are not responded to immediately.
8. When in doubt, ask permission. If your colleague posts a Facebook photo that is intended for her “friends” and you want to “share” with your colleagues, take the time to ask permission first. This is the new social media etiquette that is oh so important, not to mention respectful. The “Post” and “Send” buttons are very easy to push but impossible to undo…ever. And of course, these are the posts that inevitably go “viral.”
9. Posts gone very wrong. Have you ever posted something that is misunderstood or worse? It is a major challenge to communicate tone in social media, especially in 140 characters if you are using Twitter. Err on the side of always being respectful and professional. After all, this stuff is forever. Make no mistake. We are all being judged on the posts we share, especially the ones we write in haste. Slow down and take your time before you hit “Post.” Heated debates over social media can be diffused with a sincerely worded apology and a phone call. Curious? Just Google, “Social Media gone wrong” and read the real-life examples of very public feet in mouth.
If you get that sick feeling in your stomach after you send something out, ask a trusted friend to tell you the truth about it. Then listen and learn.
10. Take back your life. Treasure your 24 hours and be selective how you spend the time that you can never get back. Need a wake-up call? If the average person in America lives 80 years, do the math and figure out how many days you have left. That sure woke me up.
Just because the world is moving at the speed of light, does not mean that we have to or are even capable of doing so. Keep it real and understand the limits of your energy. Let us not forget about the power of a handshake, a phone call, looking into a friend’s eyes, and a tech-free lunch complete with laughs and maybe even a hug with real arms.
I “Like” it. How about you?