Thursday, August 2, 2012

Where Should I Focus My Time? Tips for Social Media Use

As many of you Not Bob regulars know, I unplugged in July. It's something I just needed to do to finish up some projects, spend time with my family, and re-charge my blogging batteries. However, I took my time off very seriously and let my e-mail build and found the following problem hidden in there.

During the summer, I spent time with family.

Problem: Where Should I Focus My Time?

A reader of the Not Bob blog contacted me to let me know he's getting serious about his social media and blogging usage. He already had some social media accounts on Facebook and LinkedIn (with as many as 1,000 connections), but he didn't seem to be getting the traction he wanted. As a result, he was considering joining some other social media sites, including RedRoom, Twitter, and Pinterest. His basic question was, "Where should I focus my time?"

On the surface, this seems like a good question to ask. After all, if site A is more profitable than site B, then it would make sense to spend more time on site A and less (or none) on site B, right? This saves time and energy if you know which site works best.

That's the big IF usually: How do I know which site works best?

Problem: How Should I Focus My Time?

When the reader mentioned the more than 1,000 connections, he let slip that he only really knew about 10% of them. I think this is fairly common for people with large social networks: They know some, but not all of their online connections. So maybe the question shouldn't be where should I spend my time, but instead, how should I spend my time?

Maybe instead of thinking where to go next, think about how you should act once you are on a social network. Send messages to new friends explaining why you friended them, or ask why they friended you. Comment on status updates or tweets. Try to engage your connections and really pay attention to what they have to say.

Sometimes, I think we get so focused on the end result of our investments that we turn into social media robots shoveling information and sales pitches out to our "friends" and "followers," instead of doing the thing that's more important, and that's being human.


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cbaustin said...

Thanks for the reminder...

Lara Schiffbauer said...

Perfect! So much of the talk about platform building is about acquiring the numbers, and not what to do with them when you have them! Being a human online takes time, but the rewards of connecting with people instead of amassing numbers are great.

Muddy said...

I'm glad to have you back! And dispensing your usual sound advice...bonus!

Jeannine Hall Gailey said...

Robert, I think this is a great point! I tell people all the time that the very best way to build community online be part of the community, interacting, posting on blogs, responding to tweets, Facebook posts, etc. It is a bit time-consuming but otherwise you're just not building relationships!

Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Robert! This really is a good reminder - I like the idea of letting people know personally WHY you friended them... good stuff.

Joseph Lalonde said...

Great point Robert. We want to go wide but not deep. Forming the connections and relationships are more important than more social media presence.

Joey Francisco said...

Glad this topic was brought up, Bob! Today it seems many friendships (esp the online kind) are rather superficial, and if we can break through those barriers and attempt to create genuine friendships and care about the person who friended us or followed us on the other side, then I think you can have a social media presence that actually matters.

I'm hoping to get to know all the people who are kind enough to follow on twitter (granted to a certain extent).

Stephanie at Visible and Real said...

Thanks so much for this post.

It's something I've been thinking a lot about, as I've been in the throes of starting a new business and doing all sorts of things to try to get it out there. But I've hesitated starting new onilne presences, as I'm already having a hard time keeping up with blog feeds. I want to get to know the blogs I've *already* - pre-business - marked as interesting to me. I want to cultivate those relationships and dive deeper, not further. (If I did that, my head would explode.)

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Thanks for the welcome backs!

Lara and Jeannine, it is time-consuming to build those relationships, but I see plenty of people consume time online not making relationships. Instead, they chase numbers.

Becky, I think including that short note about why you're friending a person helps you stick in their mind. And helps them decide whether to accept the request.

Joseph, I think most people *want* to go wide and deep, but if you can only do one, go deep and build meaningful connections.

Joey, I can totally relate to the superficial friendships comment. It's something I think everyone has to develop: Moving from thinking "what do I get from this relationship" to "what do we get from this relationship."

I totally get your exploding head comment, Stephanie. Mine is often riding right next to the red danger line.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff. This is exactly what I needed to hear right now as I work on extending my reach. Thank you!

Julia Tomiak said...

I'm so glad that you are back, but equally glad you could spend time with your family. Thanks for this wonderful reminder of how we should spend our online time. Instead of following people blindly, I'm hoping to focus on building relationships with other writers I met through your wonderful April Platform Challenge! You really inspired some great stuff! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I really struggled being unplugged this summer, but it is an eye opener to reflect on how you manage social media. Glad you had a break too and I couldn't agree more about how you spend your social media time.

Unknown said...

Hey, Bob- I have my article for the "Life Changing Moments" series ready for you, and even a current photo~


Unknown said...

"Virtual peer-acceptance" online has semi-replaced the "IRL," or "In Real Life." Everyone wants to be heard and acknowledged. Social media caters to those needs.

LinkedIn is rarely a tool for meaningful relationships with anyone.
It is a showcase on how many fake "connections" you have.

I enjoy "following" and being "followed" on Twitter- I don't like not being acknowledged.

Kind of like high school "popularity" contests.

I've sent messages to people for connections and they do not respond or just accept the request. This is really tragic as I wonder why they have a career.

We don't know how to network. We can only showcase our own stuff, but don't use the services for their intended purpose. You don't need a $600 seminar to teach it to you; it's common cents.

On the flip-side, very few LinkedIn connections have panned out but I'm grateful for them.

This is my .25 worth of feedback.