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How to Use Social Media As a Productivity Tool

You spend 13 hours a week on e-mail. Turn to social media and you can cut that by a quarter.

Ditch E-mail, Save Time
Improved communication and collaboration through social technologies could raise the productivity of interaction workers by up to 25 percent.

You devote 13 hours of your workweek to dealing with e-mail. A report from McKinsey Global Institute argues that you can free up a quarter of that time by using social media instead.

IBM’s Luis Suarez famously migrated from e-mail to social networks in 2008. At the time, he received about 40 e-mails a day. Four years later, he receives only 16 e-mails a week. You may lack access to a vaunted internal social network like IBM’s Connections, but you can still learn from Suarez and other e-mail paradigm-shifters.

Here are three lessons.

1. Shift the conversation — by yourself. In 2008, Suarez began replying to e-mails with messages on Connections, Twitter, or Google+. That way, he only had to address certain topics once. For repeat queries, he could simply refer the askers to his publicly posted answers.
The takeaway: Don’t answer e-mail with e-mail — respond in the social medium where your reply will get the most mileage.

2. Try an e-mail fast. Intel, according to FT.com, has “experimented with ‘no-e-mail Fridays,’ encouraging engineers to solve problems by phone or face-to-face instead.” You could try the same thing, adding social tools to the list of e-mail alternatives.

3. Give it time. At Klick, a 200-employee marketing consultancy, the staff only uses e-mail for external communication. “Internally all messages go through Genome, its self-designed system,” notes FT.com.
The rub: “It can be initially hard for new employees to get used to the system, with some taking months to start fully using [it].”



Some execs argue that e-mail is dead, but their rants tend to have a throw-out-the-baby-with-the-bathwater aspect to them.

For example, Wired quotes Facebook’s Molly Graham: "We actually looked at what subject lines people used. And like 80 percent of subject lines are ‘Hey,’ ‘Hi,’ or left blank. The subject line is outdated. The truth is, e-mail is outdated.”

Perhaps people simply need to appreciate how valuable that subject-line real estate is?

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How to Use Social Media As a Productivity Tool

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