One of the big dilemmas facing those increasingly using social technology as a business tool is the balance between authentic participation and automation for time saving sake.
On one end there are certainly tools and services that can actually take care of all of your social media participation and automate the process of posting your content to every known social network.
On the other end is the desire to create personal engagement and branding building community through one to one content creation and participation.
The first certainly lacks a human touch, and the latter can suck up too much time. In my mind, the perfect balance lies somewhere between the place where tools can be employed to facilitate intent and leverage time, while still adding personal attention.
Below are five social media hacks that allow personal engagement fused with the use of tools that make it easier to do more.
StumbleUpon is my secret content weapon. It’s essentially a social bookmarking site that allows people to bookmark and find interesting stuff. There’s a unique approach with StumbleUpon that makes it such a great tool though… once you create an account you can pick categories of content that interest you or that might interest your readers. Then you install the StumbleUpon browser tool bar and any time you want to find some potentially interesting content discoveries, just hit Stumble. The tool bar takes you to random sites identified by other users and is almost always a great way to come upon content that is unique and valuable from little know sources. This is a great way to share great finds in your blog posts and tweets while spending a few minutes doing the research.
2. The Round-Up
This isn’t a tool so much as a practice. People love digest content. One way to create and deliver that is to get in the habit of using a bookmarking tool like Delicious and simply tagging sites you come across (perhaps in the tip above) with various tags like 'blog' or 'newsletter' or by client industry segment, and then going back at the end of the week and writing a post or creating a newsletter issue based solely on abstracts of the good stuff you found during the week. By installing the delicious browser toolbar, you can tag any page with the right click of a mouse. Filtering content and delivering just the best of what you read (perhaps in your RSS Reader) can make you a very valuable resource to people who just want the good stuff. By employing your own filtering tool you can easily create the content on the fly.
3. Reader to TwitterFeed
TwitterFeed is a tool that allows you to connect any RSS feed to your Twitter account and effectively auto tweet anything that is added to the feed. I don’t find this very useful and in some cases it’s seen as spam, so that’s not what we are going to do here.
Since you can attach any feed to it you can have total control over what goes to Twitter, so it’s really just a way to make it easy to tweet things you find. For example, the delicious tags you created above also have RSS feeds associated with them. So, you run that feed through TwitterFeed and have it tweet anything you hand select and tag as you surf.
Another great use is to connect it to your GoogleReader account, but only for the RSS feed associated with your “shared items.” That way, as you sit at the diner reading the blogs you subscribe to on your phone app over lunch, you can find a great post that you want to share and all you do is hit the share button at the bottom of the post and that one item gets pushed out to Twitter. Still, done by hand, but just skipping a few steps to save time.
4. RSS to HTML
There are any number of tools that will take the content from an RSS feed, one that you produce or one that you find and read, and turn it into dynamic HTML content that you can display on any web page you like.
Creating content specific pages and pushing the content you find as you surf to them can be an easy way to create content for your web pages.
5. Blog to Fanpage
There are lots of plugins and apps that make it very easy to republish blog content to your Facebook personal wall, but many businesses these days are much more interested in publishing new blog posts to their Fan Pages.
There are, in fact, a number of free and paid apps that allow you to do this, but the simplest (and in my mind best) approach is to use the built-in Notes function. When you enable the notes tab on your Fan Page you can click on add a new note and you’ll see that one option is to add a blog feed. When you do this you get a new tab (the name of your blog) and the last five or so blog posts, depending upon your RSS fee settings.
The reason I like this approach is that there’s not a third party app involved – that’s where most tech issues arise – and, in addition to simply having a blog page, your new posts go right into the wall stream when you publish them.
Image credit: chadmiller
John Jantsch in a marketing consultant, award winning social media publisher and author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine.