Social Media Strategy, Social Media Tools, Top 10

9 Social Media Hacks I Use Every Day

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Social media isn’t inexpensive, it’s just different expensive. To do it well requires a tremendous time commitment, and regardless of what your life and lifestyle entails, the time you spend on social comes with an opportunity cost price tag. Thus, one of the characteristics that sets adept practitioners of social media apart from less successful adherents is wise use of time.

Using your limited social media time wisely is all about going beyond the obvious activities. If you’re doing the exact same things everyone else is doing in social, I can guarantee you will not have an advantage. But, if you do some things differently, you may find activities where the reward is disproportionate to the effort. These nine efficiencies — hacks — are what you need to embrace right now.

1. Listen to Podcasts

Sure, they’ve been overcome by newer and sexier social flavors du jour but podcasts are still the best way to spend time when you’re not in front of a screen. Driving to work? Listen to Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation or MarketingProfs’ Marketing Smarts with Matthew Grant . Working out? Put on the earbuds and embrace John Jantsch’s Duct Tape Marketing , or Chris Penn’s Marketing Over Coffee . I’d love to have your ears on my weekly Social Pros Podcast, where we focus on real people doing real work in social media. (you can put your eyes on it too, because we run full text transcripts here).

2. Take and Curate Photographs

I’m not certain if a picture is worth a thousand words, but it’s definitely worth 140 characters. This is the year that photos challenge writing as the lingua franca of the social web: Instagram; Pinterest; Path; Google +  using large thumbnails in the news feed; face recognition technology. All trend lines point toward photography. If you’re not taking and posting pictures to dedicated photo networks and cross-posting (when appropriate) to Twitter and Facebook, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to grow your network and see the world through the eyes (or cell phone cameras) of thousands of new friends.

3. Read LinkedIn Today

It’s pretty safe to say that most people keep their LinkedIn shrubbery more closely pruned than their Facebook or Twitter trees. Thus, when content is shared in LinkedIn, it often has a better chance to have been shared by people you trust, or at least people with a modicum of business sense. That’s why when I’m looking for a summarized source of what’s happening in the categories I care about, I turn to Linkedin Today.

4. Buffer Your Links

One of the most insidious time sucks in all of social media — especially for content curators — is the “Oh, I found something cool. I should share this on a social network or four!” keyboard fire that spontaneously erupts a few times a day. This kills your focus and productivity. The better approach is to set aside a chunk of time first thing each morning to find the handful of truly interesting content bon mots that are worthy, and use Buffer to automatically share them across your chosen social networks at pre-determined, optimized times. While you’re at it, add the Buffer button to your blog too. (disclosure: I’m an investor in Buffer)

5. Use “if this, then that” Recipes

If This, Then That (IFTTT) is the best social tool nobody ever mentions. It’s like a virtual assistant social media robot, where you can create an almost infinite array of conditionally-defined, time-saving tasks. Create an account and hook up all of your social profiles, blogs, cell phone numbers, etc. Then sift through the mountain of existing recipes to find processes that will save you effort.

For example, want your Twitter profile photo to change automatically when you update your Facebook profile photo? Done. Want to have your favorited tweets automatically emailed to you? Done.Want to automatically store your Instagram photos in a Dropbox account? Done.Want to automatically post to your Pinterest board any link you add to Facebook? Done.

The opportunities are nearly endless at

6. Create a Stalker List

Grab a piece of paper, or open a new document and write down a list of the 20 people you most want to interact with in social media — people you don’t know, but want to know. Then, create a list for these people on Twitter and Facebook, and a circle for them on Google +. Where applicable, visit their blogs and bookmark them. Also subscribe to their feeds (via email, not RSS because you’ll check your email every day, but not your RSS.) Find them on Instagram, Pinterest, and LInkedin and connect in those places, too.

Done? Starting tomorrow, spend 15 minutes total per day interacting with some of these 20 people. Not in a yucky way, and not in a pandering way. If you have something interesting and relevant to add via Twitter, blog comment, or elsewhere, do it. If you don’t, keep your hands to your sides. But pay attention to your list of 20, and find ways to interact with and help them. In short order, they will recognize you and you’ll have grown and leveled up your network of social contacts. Make a new list every three to six months.

7. Interact on Google +

Let me make this clear: If you’re reading this, you should be on Google +. Not for the SEO benefit — although that’s not insignificant. Not for the entertainment value — although the large number of videos and GIFs there can be a hoot. Do it for the opportunity to interact and engage with industry professionals in a comparatively quiet and efficient location. You want to get on Chris Brogan’s  radar? Or Mari Smith’s? Or Brian Solis’s? Google + is the place to do it. It’s Twitter before Oprah; Quora for the masses; blog comments but easier to use. It may not last, but for now Google + is the place to interact with people that no longer answer every tweet.

8. Blend Personal and Professional

Quit worrying about showing your real self in social media. If your social media bios talk only about who you are at work, you’re leaving attention on the table. The reality is that unless you’re a sword swallower or an astronaut, your personal life is more interesting than your professional life. You’re a marketing director for a B2B software company? Yawn. You’re a marketing director for a B2B software company, and you happen to grow prize-winning roses? That, I’ll remember. What you love makes you memorable in ways that what you do cannot. There’s a reason most of my bios say I’m a tequila lover.

9. Quit Obsessing Over Case Studies

How much time do you spend reading case studies, trying to find evidence that social media will work for your company? Case studies should be used for ideation, not ratification. Beyond the fact that case studies are often strategically irrelevant because the company profiled is in a different industry, with different goals, competitors, and customer expectations (among other variances), perhaps the biggest problem with most social media success stories is that the measures of that success are largely without real merit.

Even in the best possible scenario, where the case study in question is extraordinarily applicable to your business goals, social media situation, KPIs, budget, timeline, customer personas, and more (which is a rare alignment indeed), you are placing significant influential value on one outcome. Worry less about what some other company is doing, and worry more about doing your own work.

Social media is too complicated for you to be wasting your time, spinning your wheels on activities and behaviors that won’t make much difference. I know these nine hacks will save you time and propel you forward, because I use them all consistently. But I’m sure I’ve missed many terrific ideas. What are you doing to save time and boost your social media efficiency?


(post originally written for iMedia Connection)

Facebook Comments


  1. says

    I have been doing that “Stalker” thing, only I use an Excel sheet updated with details of different touchpoints which sits in a Dropbox folder.
    Have seen Buffer, should set it up. And yeah, Ifttt seems magical.
    BTW not sure if this is a question that I am asking right but what kind of photos, for you, give the most bang for bucks when it comes to business?

  2. says

    I have been doing that “Stalker” thing, only I use an Excel sheet updated with details of different touchpoints which sits in a Dropbox folder.
    Have seen Buffer, should set it up. And yeah, Ifttt seems magical.
    BTW not sure if this is a question that I am asking right but what kind of photos, for you, give the most bang for bucks when it comes to business?

  3. says

    Thanks, Jay. Only this weekend while padding down the seafront at Lytham St Annes, I pondered whether I should dip a toe into ifTTT. Your advocacy has inspired me to do so. When I get time – after our chat later this week, I would imagine (when I’ll bend your ear about that and much more!)

  4. says

    Definitely agree on Google+ (and most of the rest too).  Google+ is Twitter in 2007, just a fabulous way to meet and greet the folks you want to talk to.  We’re loving it at @RWW.

  5. mitchjoel says

    Thanks for the kind words about the Podcast, Jay. I do love the conversations I have with business leaders and it’s a true pleasure to be able to share them. I’m a huge Podcasting nerd… and I just wish more people were :)

  6. MissReddy says

    @MrYouth Great post! Thanks for passing it along. (P.S. re:6, you’re totally on my stalker list)

  7. antjanus says

    I don’t see how IFTTT can be use to connect pinterest to anything else. it’s not available as a channel

  8. argylesocial says

    @atayraco It can be time intensive, indeed! How do you manage everything? P.S. Glad you “like, like” the articles :)

      • argylesocial says

        @atayraco Wow, that’s impressive! You should write a 6th blog that unifies all of the topics :)

        • atayraco says

          @argylesocial not a bad idea, but all 5 companies don’t exactly “mix” haha. But i’ll keep that in mind!

        • argylesocial says

          @atayraco Keep us posted, it would be a great exercise in convergent thinking and probably would make a great read!

        • LeenaMccleskey9 says

          @argylesocial Quit Your Job! Make $410+ Per Day, Using Twitter Free To Start! TwitterPaysDaily [.Com]

  9. FrankKenny says

    Good post Jay. I will be sharing it. 
    About your first point, I listen to personal development cds nearly everyday while driving. I need to figure out a system for listening to podcasts. I know it must be easy I just haven’t thought it through.
    Thanks again,

  10. says

    Creating systems and a way to set aside time for these tasks is crucial.
    I find podcasts to be a really easy way to keep up with specific blogs I like.
    Per the blending personal/professional, it’s the way to go now. I mean, let’s say you run several online businesses, trying to keep with with 3 or 4 alias account is crazy. I’d rather manage one social media presence with my real name that isn’t “laser targeted” and keep my sanity.

    • says

       @Jeff – Digital Nomad Journey No kidding. The multiple account thing is scary. Ask my assistant Jess Ostroff about her accidentally yelling at a fitness company from my account! 

  11. gfreishtat says

    Good post.   Most folk are just getting out of the “oh I can share this link” into the “oh I can create something compelling and share it to drive my business”.  In that regard, there will many many “hacks” or new techniques and new platforms that will change how social marketing drives real results.   I think that creating everything yourself will not be the entire model and “curation” of others content will play a key role — just not how its being done today.  We are launching a platform in space in the next few weeks at and welcome the communities thoughts when its out.
    Gregg Freisthat
    CEO, Vertical Acuity

    • says

       @gfreishtat Terrific Gregg. I’d love to check it out when you’re ready. We love curation – that’s why we do the 3-2-1 email newsletter twice a week. Subscription link above!

  12. Marissa Loewen says

    Ah yes – I’m very open about my wine enthusiasm – I secretly hope someone uses that tidbit for more than following me for their wine merchandise twitter account one day.
    Thank you for IFTTT. It is a beautiful beautiful thing.

  13. says

    I agree with you, add a little bit of yourself in your business profiles and you are more likely to connect with people. People work with people. I agree with the stalker list, I follow PR people and then ask questions or reply to their tweets. It can get you a boost in followers if they come back to you, but remember don’t be a real stalker!

  14. says

    Hi Jay.
    Great hacks here. 
    I have to admit I have not been a good podcast listener. Now about 2 years ago I discovered that my car had this ‘revolutionary’ technology where I could play MP3 tracks. And I spend a lot of hours in my car. I already knew how to listen to audio books. But it did not dawn on me to listen to podcast while driving… duuuh..
    When I get my next iPhone I think even i can take pics like a pro. So watch up all pinners here I come.
    LinkedIn Today I read through FlipBoards the best innovation since Coolaid. 
    IFFFT the name is funky but works like a charm.
    I work on do a 10:10 – 10 comments – 10 interactions.
    Google+ is really putting its mark in the Social Media Sphere. From a Hospitality point of view I love it, and I start see more of my Hotel Friends come onboard there now.
    Working on that blender.. almost perfect :)
    Now I happen to love case-studies and white papers. So I give you 8 out 9 here :)
    BTW The Now Revolution was better the second time I read it. I think you must been inspired by Brian Solis experienced the same with his book Engage.
    Are Morch
    Hotel Blogger 

    • says

       @AreMorch Thanks very much Are. Really glad you made it through The NOW Revolution twice. I agree it’s better the second time. There’s so much stuff we crammed in there, that it’s easy to gloss over some of it. 

  15. Area224 says

    @thebrandbuilder @KeithBurtis Alas, objectives first. I’m tired of people saying “no one reads my blog” – blog needs objectives.

    • thebrandbuilder says

      @Area224 Why are you here, who should care that you are, and what will they get out of this? 3 important questions.

      • Area224 says

        @thebrandbuilder After Friday’s post (thanks for the share ;)) I was asked “are you doing this for SEO, leads, something else?” Yes.

    • KeithBurtis says

      @Area224 yep, objectives can fry a social media plan too if looked at the ‘only’ director. CC: @thebrandbuilder

    • KeithBurtis says

      @Area224 That being said, I NEVER approach an initiative without defining objectives. @thebrandbuilder

  16. KeithBurtis says

    @thebrandbuilder I honestly couldn’t get past number 5. No offense to Jay but it sounds like ‘his’ workflow. Not a measurable strategy.

    • thebrandbuilder says

      @KeithBurtis 100% my preference, but I would rather write nothing at all than write bullshit posts like that.

    • alisonlaw says

      @jaybaer You’re welcome. Not being hyperbolic. If everyone would try 1-2 of your 9 concepts, needles would move. #addingyoutostalkerlist

  17. ideabloke says

    Great ideas, Jay, I especially like #6.  #8, however, takes some thought.  Trying to find the ideal balance between personal & professional can be dicey at times.
    Thanks for the post!

    • says

       @ideabloke It definitely takes some thought. I do this for a living, and think for a few seconds almost every time I tweet/update, etc. 

    • desertpanda13 says

      @jaybaer of course – found the post very informative! Hear I’ll be seeing you at Radiohead in a few weeks :)

  18. malibukristi says

    @thornybleeder Nice! Will def check out IFTTT. Perhaps you know one of the ppl on my stalker list. :)

  19. MsHerr says

    @heisenthought already using it and like it. most of my active recipes are archival, but I also use it for reminders. handy little ticklers.

  20. says

    Wow. IFTTT is going to be a lifesaver for me in so many ways. Thank you for sharing that. I only wish it had StumbleUpon as a channel.
    Also? I started a stalker list a while back. And you’re on it.

  21. says

    I love that you talk about “stalking”! I used the exact same term in a post that I wrote a while back. It’s a great strategy and it works. People notice when you make an effort to consistently promote them. Almost always, they will reciprocate.

    • says

       @keepupweb And even if they don’t reciprocate, you’ve culled your own information sources so that you can make some sense of the news stream. 

  22. JonZiegler1 says

    @markwschaefer I agree with the last point, it’s a rarity that you can find a case study that is completely relevant to your company

  23. JonZiegler1 says

    Great Article, I never really thought about Google+ being a more quiet environment than twitter to engage with some of the most influential in different industries.   My social media professor @3rhinomedia always talks about creating a “Creepy Stalker List”  and I can attest to this strategy, I have gotten some of the “big dogs” to interact with me by engaging with them in other areas besides business.
    These are fantastic tips that I will have to share with my blog viewers!

  24. socialMegAdams says

    Okay, this has to be one of the most useful blogs I have read on increasing productivity & eliminating distractions. LOVE the stalker list. It’s something I have been meaning to get started & will now for sure!  Thanks!!

  25. 1ManBandAccts says

    @edenaccountant I’ve had a message in LI open to reply to you all day. Best actually do it!

  26. MattTGrant says

    Hey Jay – Thanks for giving us a podcast shout-out. I’m much obliged (and thinking, “When can I get Jay on that dang show?”)!
    I also very much appreciated the line, “What you love makes you memorable in ways that what you do cannot.” It’s a good reminder that “personality,” comprised of your actual interests and lived experiences, trumps “brand.”

    • says

       @MattTGrant 100% true, and you’ve got it in spades good sir. I’d be honored to be on your show, and hope you’ll come on ours. 

  27. says

    I definitely love the idea of the stalker list! You could even add a 10th hack to your list, “read great content marketing blogs!” throughout the day. Even if they’re from people on your stalker list, it’s still a GREAT thing to embrace! 

  28. Yolk_Recruit says

    Probably spend to much time doing number 9 and not enough doing number 6. Not sure listening to a marketing podcasts while running with give me the same adrenaline rush as AC/DC but I’ll give it a try. Might podcasts make it my lunch hour treat.

  29. annumattique says

    I was always on the fence about blending my personal and professional life on social media but #8 convinced me. Our unique quirks do make us more interesting and humanize us on the web!

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  31. says

    Thanks for sharing Jay. You’re right with the “obsession over case studies”, I find that people (and I) always need to validate what we’re doing with a case study which are very general and like you said, can’t really be applied to a specific business situation since they are (generally) made for someone/something else. And often, “over obsessing” leads to a waste of precious time. Thanks again!

  32. HotSpotPromo says

    |This is a wonderfully practical list of great tips.  Thanks for sharing Jay!  I especially love your tip about Google+  – going to have to take a closer look.  thanks!

  33. RBCud says

    Social media isn’t necessarily expensive, but you do have to put a substantial time commitment into it and keep up to date and do things the right way to get the maximum rewards from it. All other things being equal, it’s better for an organization to have a dedicated social media team rather than somebody doing it part time, so they can really work on and grow a community. A lot of companies are confused about how brand loyalty works on social media. The trick is to offer people something of value. Many companies feel that simply creating a Facebook page, throwing a few Facebook ads up there, or listing their page at is all you need to do to achieve success. Its not that easy. To achieve long-term success and to make devoting time into building up your Facebook presence worth the investment, you have to offer people something of value to earn their loyalty. A lot of otherwise extremely social people lose sight of the fact that putting yourself in another person’s shoes and having the slightest touch of empathy for what they want to see is the best way to achieve positive, long-term results. You also need to take advantage of the opportunities you have with social media by making sure to listen to people on there. You’re throwing away a golden opportunity for free market research on Facebook if you ignore your users and don’t try and engage them and learn what drives them to your product. Facebook has achieved a lot of success and businesses see the hype and try and get on there, but they’re not doing themselves any favors unless they use social media the right way.

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  38. says

    I am definitely going to spend more time curating my Google+ presence. There is no way to be sure that Google+ will become as popular as Facebook, but for SEO purposes alone, Google+ seems like a great network. Plus (no pun intended), Google Hangout is one of the coolest things I have seen so far in social media, much more so than Instagram. I want to start implementing these strategies on a daily, consistent basis.

  39. says

    These are very useful tips Jay! We’ve been trying out many of the methods you have mentioned except for the one about creating a stalker list. That’s actually a very smart way to build a loyal audience. I will for sure try that out. Thanks!

  40. MalmComm says

    @melissa_ful Yes, and some of those podcasts look worthwhile. Let me know if you find any winners!

  41. says

    You are so right!  I have been sharing for 4 years how beneficial internet radio and podcasts are for educating yourself – more efficient.  Now to get Jay to let folks know about Breakthrough Business Strategies radio #BBSradio in that list 😉 is another feat.
    And Matt I have already had Jay on-air!  He is a wonderful guest.

  42. abelniak says

    I’m a huge fan of 1, 4, and 5, and I shout from the rooftops about these all the time.  Next, i need to check out the balance.  One tip I like for RSS if to check it every morning, and use the keyboard shortcuts in GoogleReader.  i can quickly blow through a ton of feeds with j, k, and m (forward, back, and mark unread).  Then, at the end of the day, I review the ones I marked unread.  It’s a way for me to sift through a large quantity of stuff and focus on what’s important.

  43. says

    You know I’m a fan :) But I actually have to disagree on the last one – I wish there were more case studies for me to read! I like hearing how other people get the job done… especially people who have to market to consumers. Since a lot of my experience is B2B marketing and at startups, it is helpful for me to learn about social media marketing through the eyes of B2C marketers and those at larger companies. What challenges are those folks facing? What matters to them? I learn the most from that stuff.

  44. cd says

    I love your stuff, but, er… well… why does your Logo look just like Comedy Central’s? Is there some hidden meaning hidden here?

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