Social Inbox Zero / by Chel Wolverton

Inbox Zero.  We've dabbled in it, read about it, tried to make it work for us, sometimes we succeeded.  The system is like any system.  It works if you are loyal to it. If you practice it consistently. If you aren't familiar with Inbox Zero, it's a system designed to help you tame your inbox.  The goal is to have a inbox with zero messages in it. Everything filed, saved to a list for later or otherwise archived.  The actions of Inbox Zero are Do/Defer/Delete/Delegate/Archive.

We're always looking for a ways to be more productive.  We want more time to focus on the projects and people that matter.

Managing Information from the Firehose

If you participate in social media for your company or as a brand ambassador, then you know that sometimes there is a lot of information to manage or respond to in some fashion.  It's not cluttering your inbox but there are replies, search mentions, direct messages, Facebook wall posts, LinkedIN groups, Quora questions, blog post comments, comments on other's blog posts, friending, following, and more.

If you're really good at what you do, you spend time analyzing data to find actionable intel.  Some sense of where your target audience is, what they are doing, saying, how they feel and what they want and/or need.

That said, you control the social media firehose of information pointed in the direction of your head.  After you've put a system in place to tame that firehose, the chances are that you have items left over that require action.

Converting the Inbox Zero actions over to Social Inbox Zero

Remember the set of actions that Inbox Zero boils down to?

Actions of Social Inbox Zero are Act/Save/Unfollow/Send/Share.

Act

If you've gotten several replies or direct messages, complaints on your Facebook page or questions over on the company LinkedIN group, you'll want to respond quickly.  Take action on those messages before you say hello.  This is a signal that they feel they have a relationship with your company enough to interact, who knows where that relationship may lead.

Save

As with sharing, there are a number of ways you can save something to read later.  You can mail it to yourself, star it in Google Reader, or use a service like Instapaper or Read It Later.

Unfollow

You may wonder why I've included unfollow here, but for me, unfollowing spammers on various networks is a daily must.  Some days you won't have to do this.  This does *not* apply to people who leave negative comments on various networking tools.  I strongly advise NOT to do that but to limit this to spammers.

Send

Did you find a piece of interesting information that could affect your  marketing later?  Find a complaint overnight about your product?  Receive a compliment on the support a client received?  Does the CEO need to respond?  The sales team?  Tech support?  If so, find a quick and easy way to assign those items.  Email the conversation or complaint to the appropriate person, so they know the details and can choose how to handle and/or answer.

Share

Share the items you're reading with someone else that will find it valuable.  Since the tools are build into most devices, blogs and websites, this should be instant and easy to do.  If you're sharing from Google Reader, I find it handy to tag all the possible shares with stars then go back to do the sharing when finished.

Moving forward

Social Inbox Zero is a system to help you to think about getting through actions quickly just as Inbox Zero does. If you practice it, it will become a daily routine giving you back your time and attention so you can focus on moving the needle.

What processes do you use for navigating the social waters?