Little and often
Social media works best when you're dipping into it on a regular basis. If your approach is to leave it alone for weeks and then spend a couple of hours reviewing your Twitter feed / LinkedIn / Facebook business page, it's not going to work.
A sensible "rule of thumb" is 15 minutes a day, and one hour once per week. 15 minutes is a realistic amount of time to free up for social media each day, so it's an acheiveble goal - yet also enough to keep your profile "ticking over" and ensure that you're maintaining a basic presence on the platform.
The 1 hour block of time can then be used to get involved on a slightly deeper level - following up on anything that you've picked up on over the preceding week.
There's plenty in common with Social Media and "real life" networking. I expect we've all been to networking events where you find yourself being spoken at by someone. They tell you in long and exhaustive detail about themselves and show little to no interest in you. As with "real life", it's not an appealing approach.
Instead of using social media to report exclusively upon your own acheivements, use it to get involved in conversations and actually help people out.
So on Twitter, perhaps search for subjects that you have a specialism in and give pointers to useful information. If you've a blog post on the subject - perfect!
On LinkedIn especially there are numerous groups that you can get involved in. Seek out those that your target audience and partners visit, and chip on on discussions there.
Use the right tools
If you're trying to use Twitter by directly visiting twitter.com, you're probably doing it wrong!
Instead use a "Social Media Management Tool". That's quite a wordy title - but basically this is a bit of software that puts your social media channels into one place where you can easily see what's going on in each of them.
It makes it easy to get involved in conversations, follow subjects that are of interest, and generally allow you to spend more time on the useful activity and less time on the donkey work of navigating and searching twitter.com, linkedin.com, etc.
Here's a few Social Media Management Tools to check out (most offer free versions):
Hopefully armed with this information you'll be able to get more out of your social media activity - or find it a bit easier to start using it proactively.
Any questions or feedback? Use the comments form below or feel free to drop us a line.