Social media burn-out, frustration, confusion…if you’ve been involved at all, at almost any level, from beginner to super plugged-in, these words likely hold some meaning for you.

Matt and Irving (not their real names) are two completely different people, but I want to explain a little about both of them. I believe that individually, or as a pair, most of us can find a part of their story that we can identify with and learn from.

Matt is a business owner, an internet based business that makes most of its revenue from advertising sales. Traffic is very important to the business model, and the company’s target market covers a large geographic area. Of the three business partners, he is the most tech-savvy, and so the responsibility for the company’s internet presence and reach fall largely upon his shoulders.

Enter social media. Matt has been involved with the internet for quite a while, and is not a stranger to its nuances and rhythm. Social media as an avenue excites him, it’s a sure fire way to get the word out about his company, to engage, to learn, and to network. He jumps right in with both feet; he knows he’ll be fine. Social media to him is a natural and near-perfect solution to many of his advertising and marketing needs.

Matt is aware that all of this is an evolution, and that today’s Twitter is going to be next year’s ThunkIt, or whatever it might be named. When Facebook encompasses all that used to be LinkedIn and YouTube, he’ll be there, strong as ever, and likely ahead of the pack, because he’s ready, he’s watching, and he’s poised to get involved in everything new as it rolls off the line. Matt has just recently come to terms with the fact that you can’t be everywhere always, and that all of this may not be necessary.

Irving is the sole owner of a start-up. The business model and revenue plans are based solely on the advice and best practices of those who have started this type of business before him, and have enjoyed great success. Irving is not as confident as Matt, because he’s new at this type of business altogether. He’s precise and methodical in every move that he makes with the business. Irving is anal retentive, with a splash of OCD thrown in for good measure. Interesting to note here, that social media doesn’t enter here. It’s already an integral and accepted part of doing business for this particular type of start-up. For Irving, step one was naming his business, step two was to check Twitter for the name’s availability.

Irving is plugged in everywhere, looking for a mentor or twelve to follow. He’s also trying hard to collect and implement all the tidbits and golden nuggets that may fall from on high, from the “successful ones” who know what they are talking about. They all seem so willing to share. Irving has done, undone, and re-done almost everything he’s ever started in this business.  It looks to Irving like all of this is almost a career unto itself. Who could get any real work done, trying to keep up with all that you have to do to be successful?


Matt, a few thoughts for you:

  • Slow and steady wins the race. Being first in line is overrated, 2nd, 3rd is just fine in most instances. You’re smart and savvy enough to see the worthwhile and meaningful in all of this. If something merits your time and efforts, you’ll know it soon enough.
  • Social media for business purposes yields little ROI on the weekends, you’ve checked the stats enough to know this, consider NOT being plugged in at all on these two days.
  • As we all merge from a more traditional model of marketing into this new arena, beware the hype, you’re not immune to it. You do realize that 9 out of 10 of your “new” profiles will be obsolete within months, don’t you? You’ve found some great thought leaders and peers in your vertical, perhaps allow yourself to get excited when they do.
  • Nonprofitorgs had this to say about social media burnout. Good advice here.
  • You could be quite useful as a lighthouse. Folks are just now coming into social media, help them navigate and make sense of it all. Getting a bit outside of your own story can prove useful and very rewarding for you.

Irving, here are a few scribbles for you:

  • Stop sending me 10 emails a day asking all those questions. Some of this you’re going to have to figure out on your own. I’m happy to help, but I can only offer so much. My answers won’t be perfect for you anyway. What makes social media work in many instances is the originality and personality that one builds into their efforts. I can’t give you either of these. You will find your own voice in all of this, I promise.
  • Dude, you need a schedule. This article lends a great example, and may offer more help here than me rambling on. Keep in mind that with success, you may need to scale your social media efforts, since it will likely attribute to this success, you’ll need some growing room. Plan for this.
  • You’re going to have to pick your favorites. There are so many people out there who are doing all of this right, there’s simply too much good advice out there. Decide whose input you will allow to influence you, and put these into a Twitter list or TweetDeck column or something. Maybe have their blog updates emailed to you, or subscribe through a reader like Google reader. Allow your list here to evolve, because your own expertise and needs will.
  • I don’t want to add more to your plate, but helping somebody else might be therapeutic for you here as well. You’ve learned a lot already, set aside some time each day to help someone else. You’ll hear yourself as you’re making sense to them, I’d bet that you gain some wisdom in this.
  • Social media is a great way to promote the work that you do, but it’s not the actual work you do, is it?
  • Doing it right, and overdoing it are not the same thing at all.

Matt and Irving (insert my name here) are just examples and the suggestions offered are but a few. Add your comments, advice, or own story. Perhaps this will all be a beacon for somebody down the road.

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