I became a big fan of social media long before I even knew that’s what it was called. Twitter and Facebook in particular have allowed me to grow my network and stay connected to a much larger group of people than would have been possible even ten years ago. Every week I discover interesting new people to learn from and, at the same time, I’m growing a reputation as an expert within my target market. This kind of recognition is great for both my ego and my bank balance, but it’s not without its challenges.
Like many others, I take advantage of time-saving tools to manage my social media presence, but that can only take you so far. Automated systems cannot take the place of personal engagement, and personal engagement requires time and effort.
For example, based on a couple of blog posts I’d read, I recently concluded that thanking people who retweeted my posts by tweeting “Thanks for the RTs @person1 @person2 @person3″ was just adding more noise to the already-cluttered Twitter stream. I then decided to return the favour instead, giving more value both to the retweeter and my other followers (see my post What Do You Do When Someone Retweets You? for more details). However, it didn’t take me long to realize that browsing their Twitter stream in search of something interesting, clicking on a link for further exploration in most cases, and then retweeting if appropriate, increases the time spent from a few seconds to a few minutes – even more if the first tweet doesn’t prove to be compelling. Multiply that by the number of retweets I receive each week, and I could spend hours just acknowledging my retweets!
I also make a practice of checking out my new followers and personally responding to comments on my blog and social media posts, as well as commenting on other people’s posts. These activities have contributed greatly to the size and strength of my network and brought me lots of additional business, so I’m certain I’ve found the right strategy for my business.
The challenge is that the more people who are reading, sharing, and commenting on my posts, the more time these activities require, and the more business I have, the harder it is to continue giving my social network the same level of attention.
This situation is really nothing new. Even before the Internet became an important resource for entrepreneurs, successful small business owners have struggled to make time for marketing and networking. Yet we know that if we don’t continue to invest time in marketing our businesses, the day will come when we have no business left to run.
How about you? What is your biggest challenge when it comes to social media?
Whatever it is, you’ll probably find the answer, and a lot more besides, at Social Media Success Summit 2011.