Last night I did what I do every Monday night: I made the rounds of my house, from basement to third floor, and collected all the trash from the trash cans, carried them outside, and then carried the trash bags and recycling out to the front curb. To be honest, the whole process probably takes me fewer than ten minutes, and yet I really don’t enjoy this particular chore. But it must be done every week.
We all have those household or work chores that just have to be done, but we hate them, even if they aren’t time consuming. They just seem like a bother. And if you’re like me, you might forget and suddenly remember to do them at the last minute. Even worse are the jobs that aren’t time sensitive, because you can easily forget about them, or even if you remember, you can maybe rationalize pushing them off until another day. But the more you push them off, the bigger deal it will be when you finally do catch up.
I mean, you don’t REALLY have to clean your toilet every week. You could let it go two weeks. But by then, it will be dirtier, and perhaps harder to clean. Or how about changing the oil in your car? You’re supposed to do it every three months or every 3,000 miles, whichever comes first. Of course, you can ignore that, and your car will run just fine. For awhile. But eventually it could cause problems that will cost far more than a routine oil change.
In the business world, there are a number of online tasks that many businesses seem to ignore or forget about. In fact, some of them might be things of which you aren’t even aware. In that case, you can thank me later. But here is my list of a few tasks you should be doing at least every week. In a perfect world, these might actually be daily tasks, but we all know this isn’t a perfect world. If you can carve out just 15 minutes of your time on one day each week, these simple little annoying chores might actually save you some time and headaches.
1. Check your email spam folder – I recently had a breakdown in communications with a client. Why? They had changed some things with their server and suddenly some legit emails were going to spam, mine included. There are some really good spam filtering programs out there, but none are perfect, and all are prone to mistakes. Think about it: how often does a spam email get through to your inbox? A lot? A little? But they do get through from time to time. In the same way, a legitimate email can just as easily get flagged as spam. Don’t miss out on an important communication from a client or prospective client just because you missed their email.
2. Check your comments spam folder – If you are blogging, the same thing can happen with comments. Most spam filters do a good job of separating the spam from the good stuff. But like email, some comments slip through the cracks. A big part of blogging is getting comments, and responding to those comments. You are responding to your comments, right? Well, check your spam folder to make sure a legit commenter isn’t getting left out in the cold.
3. Check “Hidden Posts” on your Facebook Page – The “Hidden Posts” tab on your Facebook page is essentially your Facebook spam folder. It will often catch those spammy comments that get posted to Facebook walls. But again, there is actually a higher chance here of good comments being flagged and sent to the “Hidden Posts” area. You need to check that tab at least each week, and “unhide” any legitimate posts, and perhaps even comment on those posts. If you don’t, someone might think you just don’t care.
4. Check your Twitter followers and see who you want to follow back – If you’re using Twitter well, you’ll probably find that you have new people following you on a regular basis. Some of them might be the kind of accounts that will follow anyone, in hopes of getting a follow back. Others will be spam accounts. But in the mix will be some legitimate followers. You should check through them weekly in order to follow back the ones that seem to make sense for you. Check out their profiles and see if they seem legitimate and would be beneficial for you to follow. You’ll need to decide on criteria for follow-backs, but over time this will become much easier.
5. Check your friend requests and inbox on Facebook – This is your personal account, not your business page, but I can’t tell you how often I sit in a clients office, have them log-on to Facebook, and the top notification bar is lit up like a Christmas tree with numerous inbox messages and friend requests. Maybe I’m OCD about that kind of stuff, but I like to deal with those immediately. But if you’re not that type, make sure you do check those messages and friend requests. There could be something important in there. Remember my client who wasn’t getting my emails? I finally got to him by sending him a Facebook message. If he didn’t check those, I’d be out of luck.
6. Check your inbox and invitation list on LinkedIn – Like Facebook, this is something that is often ignored. Personally, I spend less time on LinkedIn than I do on other platforms, so connection requests and private messages don’t always get dealt with in a prompt manner. But I do try to check in at least once a week so that I can sift through everything and respond where needed.
7. Check your voicemail – OK, you probably check your voicemail every day, if not several times a day. But if you’re like me, you might listen to a message while you’re on the go, but can’t respond right away. Then you get busy, and forget. Oh wait, that’s me, not you. So I’ve made it a habit to routinely relisten to any voicemail messages that I might have left on my phone (and yes, I know that “technically” they aren’t really on my phone). This way I won’t forget to respond to any clients or inquiries from potential clients.
8. Check your email inbox – I’m not an “Inbox Zero” kinda guy. That means I have a lot of emails sitting there in my inbox, some of which are conversations in progress, others of which are there to be dealt with at a later date, (and, no, don’t lecture me about this. This is my system and it works for me!). I like to peruse my inbox regularly to see if there are any emails I might not have responded to when I was on the road, or pressed for time. Of course, you can also re-mark those emails as unread as a way of making it more obvious.
It’s great if you can do these things more often, ever day, in fact. But if not, once a week will suffice in most cases. To make these tasks easier, a few of them can be monitored via email alerts, based on your notification settings for the various platforms. If you set them properly, you’ll get emails telling you of what is happening on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and your blog. And don’t just think of these platforms. If you are involved in any other social networks, make sure you are keeping up with all those little nagging chores.
Remember: Any time you are contacted, either privately, or publicly on a social platform, you need to respond in a timely fashion.
Comments, posts, and messages are not like wine, cheese, or even me. They don’t get better with age.
Are you letting these seemingly insignificant tasks fall through the cracks? Are you prepared to let business prospects disappear because you haven’t responded to them?
- Best of 2011: 11 Things You Need to Know About Your Facebook Business Page (inklingmedia.net)
- The Ever-Looming Inbox (spinsucks.com)
- How To Use Gmail Filters To Organize Your Inbox (v3im.com)
- 5 Social Stupidities that Drive me Absolutely Nuts (marijeanjaggers.com)
- Social Media: A Must For CEOs Of The Future (v3im.com)