“I don’t have time to participate in social media” is a common cry heard within enterprise. The concern is that social media has a steep learning curve and is a time vacuum preventing more essential work from getting done. In other circles where social media is more widely used, those who haven't started are sometimes in a pickle.  They don't know where to start and won't ask for help, worried about exposing that they haven't developed this professional skill yet.  Fear not...while we are led to believe that everyone and their uncle is using social media with great skill and acuity, there are many who have yet to take the plunge. 

Here is a 20 minute social media activity plan to help you dip your toe in the water while managing your time for efficiencies.There are many different activities you can do once you have started to master the art of social, but this activity plan ensures that the core efforts are covered.  But, before you start, you will need to do a few things. 

First, go to Google and set up alerts on your name (in quotation marks for best results – e.g. “Tom Smith”) as well as topics that pertain to the work you do (e.g. “airplane parts manufacturing” or “firmware and quality assurance”).   Try to be specific so you don’t get too much information or that which is not relevant. Also set up an alert for the name of the company where you work. 

Second, create a LinkedIn profile on at least one other network such as Twitter or Google+ if you haven't already.  Here are some practical tips to make the most of your social media profile.  

Third, if there are a few blogs that you find interesting, subscribe to them.  I recommend having the new posts emailed to you so they come to your mailbox for easy access.  Most thought leaders publish a blog, so if there is a speaker or author you value, search on their name and most likely you will find their blog.  There is usually a way to sign up for email delivery directly on the blog post.  

For extra credit, try to find an online community or LinkedIN group that is specific to your subject matter expertise.  I have created a big list of professional online communities that can serve as a starting point, but you can also search online or ask peers where they find discussions and resources online.   For many professionals, here is where you will find the most value in terms of content and connections to support the work you do.

Now it is time to begin…

1. Read blogs posts sent by email - 2 minutes
2. Check reputation alert, topic or company key word alert – 1 minute
3. Log in to LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+ and see if you have any messages. You may want to vary the network you log into by day of the week– 2 minutes
4. Respond to a blog post you have read or look at the twitter activity to see if anything catches your fancy  – 5 minutes
Possible actions include;  send email to author of great article & invite to connect if person responds,  re-tweet an article or blog post you have read, make a comment or like something one of your colleagues posted on LinkedIN 

5. Participate in 1-2 professional networks or online communities once to twice a week.   8-10 minutes
Connect to 1-3 people every few visits
Write a personalized email to 1-2 connections
Comment briefly or post a forum message that is relevant to you.
If you are reading this blog post, chances are you are already on your way to social media success. Congratulations!  If you know someone who wants to get started but doesn’t how to begin, do a good deed by forwarding these suggestions to them in email. And, if you are a savvy social media user, consider "adopting" someone who isn’t.  Offer to set up some time with them to show them how the tools work.  Be sure to use searches that evoke professional topics that may catch their interest – as relevancy is the key to success. And if you crave more information, here is a good blog post from the Social Media Examiner offering videos and additional resources to help support the learning curve.