(Photo Credit: jasonahowie/Flickr)
Ask Your Boss
The first thing you should do before using social media in the office is ask your boss if you're allowed to use social media in the office. We know -- this seems like it should go unsaid. Unfortunately, either new employees either aren't informed of this rule or ignore it, or existing employees are in such a habit that when the policy goes into place, they forget about it. Take this as a reminder to schedule a quick five-minute meeting with your boss to check if you can access Facebook or Twitter at work -- even on your mobile phone. (Some companies actually block these sites on their networks.) If you're given the green light, keep reading. If not, tuck your phone into your pocket or purse and check those status updates on your break.
Set a Timer
Once you have approval to use social media in the office, it can be tempting to check Facebook and Twitter even few minutes -- but again, unless that's actually your job as a community manager or social media strategist, you need to limit your time on social networks so you can be productive and get done what you actually get paid for. Consider setting a timer on your computer or smartphone and check your social networks of choice every 45 or 50 minutes. (For example, open up Facebook on the :50 of every hour and only spend 10 minutes on it.) This ensures you don't get distracted -- or worse, get fired -- by using social media throughout the day.
Use a Social Media Software
Afraid you're going to miss out on something while you're working? Consider using social media software to be alerted when someone messages or mentions you. There are dozens of options to choose from, and some of our favorites include Tweetdeck, HootSuite, and Sprout Social. These solutions -- which are all web-based -- help you streamline your social networking activity and help you keep peace of mind when you're not actually using social networks by enabling you to set alerts for certain types of events. Most of these programs are free, and super simple to set up.
Tell Us What You Think
How do you manage social media in the office? Share your thoughts with our community on Twitter or in the comments section below.