I’ve been evaluating the use of social media over the past year. I have sent requests to follow people, accepted invites from people requesting to follow me, tweeted, retweeted, mentioned, and DM’d on Twitter, I’ve invited people to join my professional network, accepted connection invites from people who want me to connect with them, posted articles, business tips, resources, ideas, and shared “what I am doing” on LinkedIn, I have created a Fan Page, shared the link to invite people to visit and “like” my page, “liked” my friends pages back, posted articles, business tips, resources, ideas, inspirational quotes, commented on wall posts received by my friends, and encouraged discussions on my Facebook page.
I’ve also been of the mindset that it doesn’t matter who you follow or connect with, the more people you connect with the better. But it’s been bothering me for a while now that there’s something not right with this strategy — something is missing in all of my efforts. What I’ve discovered is it’s the true purpose of social media that is missing for me. I really believe that social media is supposed to be “social”, and that it’s true purpose is to build and nurture relationships with your connections, and that’s really how it should be used. After all, isn’t that the way it started long ago? But many people, including myself, do not and have not been using it in that way.
Honestly, I found myself saying many times that “I really don’t like social media,” or “I don’t resonate with it.” It got to the point where I would procrastinate going into my profiles and making a presence there because it was all meaningless chatter to me. Just a bunch of noise! “Why bother, nobody talks to me any way.” Then I thought “when is the last time I conversed with one of my Twitter friends?” Or sent an email to one of my LinkedIN connections to ask them how they’re doing and if there was anything I could do for them or who could I introduce them to? Is there any information or resources they would like me to share with them in my posts that could help them in their business life? Or when did I take the time to review the pages and websites of my Facebook fans to learn more about what they do? It’s like hosting a party and not mingling with your guests or not introducing them to other guests to make them all feel welcome! Or worse, attending the party and sitting in the corner not talking to anyone and just being a “passive observer.” Why bother going to the party or having one in the first place if you’re not going to join in?
So….. I’ve decided it’s time for me to “get back to basics” with social media.I spent the morning going through all my connections on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Not only have I come to realize that there is no possible way I can meaningfully communicate with the large amount of people, but most of them I do not know and never actually “spoken” with. So, I decided to thoughtfully go through the process of cleaning up my list of contacts and followers and to determine who I wanted to keep on my list. While going through the process I asked myself:
- Who added value to my social media life over the past year?
- Who did I have communications with, or who communicated with me and seemed willing to make the effort to stay in touch with me?
- Who was open to socializing with me? Who took the time to retweet my posts, sent me DM’s, engaged in discussions, etc, rather than just “selling me their services”, and who was I open to socializing with?
- Who would be a good referral partner?
- Who would be a good referral source for my clients and prospects who need services that I don’t offer, or who have complimentary services that are not within my expertise, but that my clients and prospects may need as part of their administrative support plan?
- Who posted meaningful, interesting content? Could I benefit from or learn from their contributions? Could I share this information with others in my network so they could benefit from and learn from it as well?
- Who was willing to share ideas and resources, be supportive with encouragement and advice? Who reached out to me for answers to questions they had or solicited my advice or assistance?
While I continue to work on finalizing my social media reorganization strategy and create my new social media plan for 2012, I’m noticing the shift in my attitude toward social media, and am starting to feel good about continuing my efforts in using social media more effectively in 2012 — in the spirit of the true meaning of it’s purpose — keeping in touch, building relationships, and sharing with others. I may not win the prize for being the “most connected” on social media in 2012, but I look forward to making more meaningful connections, building solid, long-term relationships, and being a valuable resource and “blessing” to my small, but growing network, by supporting them while they strive to “thrive and survive” and meet their business goals in 2012 and beyond.
My challenge to you for 2012 is to evaluate your social media. Is it adding value to your life or is it just a routine, time-consuming task that you are just going through the motions of doing, albeit it haphazardly, because you feel you “need to be there” because everybody else is there?
Make 2012 the year to make a concerted effort to make meaningful connections and have a wonderful circle of influence with those around you. Most of the people I left on my list were the first people I added to my list when I first joined social media back in 2009 — family, friends, coworkers, and colleagues — and of course, my valued clients! I want to get back to my roots and renew and reacquaint myself with those who have added meaning and value to my life and my business, and look forward to making new connections in the future!
I would love to hear how you manage your social media noise and what your Social Media strategy and plan is going to be for 2012. Feel free to post your comments below, or better yet, send me a DM on Twitter, post to my wall on Facebook, or send me an email via LinkedIN. I’d love to hear from you!