Five months into my gig as a Social Media Coordinator at AutoNation, it seems I am still ironing out a work flow that feels comfortable for me. Even though the nature of being social on social networks means there shouldn’t be a rigid structure of tasks in place, I grew very accustomed to that work style at my last job at the Miami Herald. We worked on deadline. I had my entire work shifts mapped out in advance. I knew when I could take short breaks. The structure of the position became very routine to the point where I could have almost done it blindfolded.
With social media, it’s fluid motions; reacting as necessary when conversations arise. I enjoy this leisurely (I use that word loosely) approach, but sometimes when your interactive and engaging juices start to flow and your Twitter stream becomes more active, you’re greeted with a fail whale and there’s not much you can do. Your work flow is halted. How can you be social when the social sites are down?
1. Browse for links. When I can’t actively tweet because of Twitter’s standard wonkiness or if Facebook is having issues (which is commonplace), I turn to Google reader and see what I can find. I’ve got folders for automotive blogs, RSS feeds and resources that I scour and save for tweeting at a later time. I use delicious and tag these links with #ANtweets so I can find them later easily. This leaves me with an arsenal of info I can pull from to share on slower days. Find a system that works for you that allows you to quickly find resources you can share with your fans and followers when the Internet starts to behave again.
2. Schedule blog posts. You don’t even have to write them. Take @brucefloyd‘s advice and map out a post schedule based on the topics you plan to write about. Put them into your Google calendar. If the networks are down for an extended amount of time, throw a few paragraphs together or compile an outline. This will keep you from putting off posts in the future, though it may be easier said than done. (Can we pretend that this blog post isn’t the first one I’ve written since February? Cool.)
3. Go analog. Grab that writing utensil that we call a “pen” and place it on one of those square white sheets of “paper” and swirl it around a bit. Some of your best ideas come from the simple act of writing things down. Your brain muscles react and stretch in different ways when you use the written word. It’s what @jasonrukus does. Put down your iPad and give it a shot.
4. Organize miscellaneous tasks. Our team at AutoNation has become big fans of Action Method. It serves as our project and assignment organization application. We input action items for one another, give them a due date and a priority. We keep it organized by project and topic. On days when the social networks are slow or acting up, I go into Action Method and organize. Did this action item need to be updated? Postponed? Is there a status update I can offer to keep my team in the loop? I do all of these things. It makes me feel productive.
5. The dreaded e-mail. As a last resort, I’ll answer e-mails that I’ve put off. There is no better time to conquer them than when I can’t use Twitter or Facebook as distractions. It’s one of the heaviest weights you can lift off yourself and for me, it makes being active on social sites more enjoyable and fun because I don’t have the cloud of e-mail floating over my head.
What do you do when Twitter and Facebook are acting up and you can’t engage your fans and followers? Share with a comment.