While trying to keep up with social media personally is usually fun--though can easily turn into a huge time sink--trying to maintain a professional presence while tracking other professionals I admire and/or want to learn from can be daunting.
I want to keep up with the latest in my field and see what others are doing and experiencing and sharing but the beast requires that you feed it as well and that takes a LOT of time. One of the reasons I stopped blogging after nearly a year in the Philippines was because there just wasn't enough time.
Now granted, I was also trying to maintain family and friend relationships with people in the US while creating and nurturing new acquaintances in Manila, learning a new skill (scuba diving) which took me all over the Philippines, and actually work 40 hours per week (not to mention factoring in the traffic and increased travel time for even short distances).
But now that I'm back in the US and things are a little more 'normal' schedule wise, I still find it a large investment of time to maintain social accounts. There's:
- Facebook with family and friends; keeping up with what they're all doing and sharing our lives, photos, personal highs/lows, and political woes. As well as following my agency and other business pages (including my own which is in indefinite hiatus), etc.
- Twitter; a little more personally removed but no less relevant to my life and those aforementioned political woes. I have two Twitter accounts because I thought it would be smart not to share personal feelings/beliefs with my professional world, since for me it equals possible working relationships and clients. But it's more than twice the work; there's the emotional weight of not remembering which account I'm logged into and then deleting tweets sent from the wrong account and resending from the right one. (And I know by doing that I'm not being my whole self with those potential clients and working relationships, but that's a whole other can o' worms. A girl's gotta eat and pay her bills and keep her stress levels down.)
- Instagram; a place where I can follow people I admire or am interested in and share my own updates with family, friends, and complete strangers--which sounds weird, but I find it oddly comforting. That we can all connect over photographs of nature or other shared interests but maintain that distance... like a gallery or museum. Plus, as an amateur photographer it's validating to have people like and comment on my photos.
- LinkedIn; where I want to be more active--I currently check the feed about once a week, 'like' posts and sometimes comment--but feel reticent about say, publishing articles since it's more professional in nature and topics, and my first instinct is I don't have anything new to add, or better or more enlightening to say than others. (Yes, I have impostor syndrome; I'm working on that.)
- Slack; where I am most active--mainly reading what others have posted; though that's great for me. Learning and understanding how other people are viewing the same things I see in our chosen field of work as well as those who are struggling and how they solved for those issues. I do try to participate and share--it's one of my goals toward dispensing with that impostor thought process. But I have six active Slack work spaces; one that I own and maintain.
- My personal blog; which I started thinking it would be about the transformation I was working on in Manila but more often than not blurred into personal posts. I realized that the whole culture shift was just as important as what I was doing as a coach during working hours; because I was working with people in that culture and needed to understand that if I was to understand them. (And now that I'm trying to get back to consistently posting to the blog, I think I should just go with the flow and not try to force it into a mold.)
I generally only use Twitter, LinkedIn and Slack for business, but all of it takes time; not just to read through the feeds and linked articles but to follow up, respond, or post requires thought and sometimes research.
And since it's the nature of the game I try to maintain a steady stream of timely and relevant content--depending on the account--which means looking ahead and scheduling (Hootsuite is great for this), as well as keeping my eyes and ears open for the new and yet unknown, which takes yet more time. It can be a huge mental lift, but can also be mentally exhausting too.
Sometimes I think back to the day when we didn't have this access to each other and to the world at large and wonder if it makes a difference to be so connected and to spend the time. If I stopped doing all of it what would happen? Would it really affect my day to day life and work opportunities?
But then I think about how I feel to see a post from someone across the world who feels the way I do about something and feel connected. A stranger likes a photo I posted on Instagram and maybe comments simply, "That's stunning" and I feel pretty good about that. I see updates from family and friends who live far from me and feel a little closer.
And I know that people have followed me professionally on Twitter because I offer something that most do not. My tweets are usually centered around lifting others up. I didn't set out to do that and didn't even realize I was doing it until I saw the responses I got from those tweets; likes, retweets and follows. I thought my brand was "agile coach" but I think now it's 140 character comments about how awesome others are; especially when said peeps are live. (Though I have no clue what that might be called, in terms of a brand.)
I think its important to stay connected; I think it makes the whole world a better place and feel a little smaller. I think sharing our hopes, photos, wonder, and the feelings those evoke are all good and truthfully Agile. I have said before, and will continue to say, I think Agile is all about humanity.
So for now, I'll carve out an hour or two a day (that's my new target) to read and respond, find new and interesting to share, post my photos, like my family's silliness, write about my professional challenges or thoughts and just generally participate in the sprawling, sometimes chaotic, hubbub.