The first steps on my social media journey were concerned with clarity of personal brand, ensuring I had the right messages going to the right channels and efficiency of status updates. I also made tentative steps into some basic analytics. The primary focus, in terms of tools, was Hootsuite.
One of the areas I’d identified as needing some work was a curation workflow. How interesting content could get from the web to my status updates? I’ve made some progress in this area, setting up a rudimentary workflow which I’m utilising now.
The Convenient Workflow
The workflow is depicted in the diagram below. It involves utilising four tools: the Browser, Flipboard, Google Reader, Pocket and Hootsuite. The workflow and tools are split into three stages: discovery, curation and sharing. The curation stage can be completely skipped if necessary.
The interesting discovery related to this workflow is how and when it is used and the degree to which it is mobile driven.
The key problem I’d identified early was having time to find interesting content. While I post to social networks as interesting things happen or observations are made, the time consuming activity is finding content that involves stepping outside of your day-to-day priorities to find. I often wondered how people posting a lot of links, way too many quite often, found the time in the day?
The answer is you use ‘dead time’, but I’ll get back to that.
The strategy of finding material on the web, through the browser, is not very efficient, unless it falls into content you’d browse as part of a daily routine. Unless you have a very specific job you can only spend so much time doing that. The content you’d find is obviously only a subset of potentially interesting content at any particular time. I still find it’s a valid source so the Browser is still a good choice.
In terms of other options, I’d investigated Google Reader on the PC and wasn’t enamoured with it. I’d also started to use RSS Feeds within Hootsuite, but they didn’t see a lot of use in practice. They didn’t foster engagement as they’re very…dry. I was still relying on the PC, of course.
It was Flipboard that offered the most significant breakthrough.
Flipboard is excellent for two reasons: it’s very engaging and it’s mobile. It’s engaging because of its very visual mobile interface. It essentially turns the internet into a magazine you flip through across numerous topic areas. I used to love magazines, now I love the ease of Flipboard. It’s proved a great way to find interesting content for me to personally consume and share. It’s really transformed how I consume content and the actual content I consume. Perfect. It’s safe to say I’ve become addicted to Flipboard.
I’ve become addicted to it because I have the time. Breaking away from PC-based tools has allowed me to use dead time. I can flick through and read Flipboard material while walking to the supermarket to get my lunch or in the back seat of the car when the team is driving back to the hotel, in a moment while I’m waiting for people to go to dinner or while in bed between waking up and getting up. It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s interesting. It can be done in the moment. It does not demand you to sit down at your PC in a specific location for a good chunk of time.
Why did this mobile epiphany take so long? Well, it didn’t in a way. I’ve talked about the ability of mobile to magically find time in the day before due to the tablet, what’s changed is the fact I’m using a Samsung S3 rather than an underpowered Wildfire phone. This is taking my digital opportunities to the next level due to the convenience of a powerful device moving from laptop to tablet to phone.
The mobile experience of Flipboard inspired me to give Google Reader another go as Google undoubtedly had an Android App. This is now installed on the phone and I’ll use Google Reader alongside Flipboard. This allows for more efficient content finding than traversing across discrete websites assuming I know they are even there. Google Reader has the great feature of being able to search for specific feeds on specific topics. This provides more discovery of material I’d probably not find efficiently any other way.
The weakness that became apparent was the inability to store and curate material I had found. In the case of Flipboard and Google Reader this meant the material would eventually vanish. This raises two problems: the first is the need to create the status update on finding the content and the second is keeping the good stuff for an indefinite amount of time.
The first solution to this was to just create the status update and schedule it in the future within Hootsuite. This was workable, the only restriction being you can’t change the social media destinations at a later date. It’s a valid solution and I still do it in some cases if the context I want to add around the content is top of my thoughts.
This problem lead me to Instapaper and from there Pockit.
Pockit provides a clean and simple way to format (less like a web page and more like a clean PDF) and store material for later reading and sharing. It allows for material discovered in the back seat of a car on a ten minute journey to be instantly Pockit’ed and then read and shared later in a slightly longer time slot. This provides options in terms of when content is consumed and when it is shared. It also allows for good content to be kept indefinitely. The use of Pockit will branch out beyond social media as it is a great way to store and curate content for blogs, certainly beating the current strategy of just pasting the link at the bottom of a blank potential blog post.
Once the discovery sources and the curation tools start taking shape you have to ensure you can move material between the tools. On the PC I use Chrome extensions for this, with my PC and laptop having the Hootlet and Pockit extentions installed. This allows for any website to be instantly shared or stored.
It’s the mobile experience that offers the most benefit in this area due to the stronger Android ecosystems that is shared between the Apps. The ability to Share Via is a very powerful part of the workflow. It allows for a website, Flipboard content or RSS Feed to be instantly converted into a Hootsuite update or a Pockit entry. In turn a Pockit entry can be transferred to Hootsuite later just as easily. Simple. Easy. Quick. No fuss. Minimum barriers to doing it quickly.
This is one example in which mobile, despite the smaller screen sizes, lack of a keyboard and whatever else, becomes the more powerful platform. The combination of immediacy, useful for in the moment observations, and ease of use around discovery, curation and sharing is driving my social media activity to mobile. Completely.
One question I get asked often enough that it’s not an irregular occurrence, is how I have time to use social media? Some of this is down to the priorities of the individual as I obviously do give it more priority. A lot of it is down to tools and the available time those tools ‘discover’. It does not really take that long. You’re talking maybe an hour in your day spread out in relatively small segments? It’s often the time nothing much else happens in. The right tools and the use of mobile allows this strategy to be adopted.
As the discovery, curation and sharing workflow matures it becomes more efficient and your thoughts can turn to other areas like better analytics and cleaning up profiles, etc. I’m going to give it a while and see what arises as the next challenge. I have tried out some advanced, if expensive, analytics which I may talk about in the future as they’ve been very informative in terms of what you can actually do.