I was running some errands yesterday with my dad – we were actually out fetching some lunch after doing some yard work. My dad is a radio nut, still, and Saturday mornings are always packed with sports shows, Whadya Know, and many other programs. My dad turned to a radio station and this guy was going on and about how it was “Sweetest Day.” “I have to go to the flower shop and the candy store after this and it’s just not fair. It’s not even a real holiday, but I have to support the sham!”
I wanted to jump into the radio and talk to this guy. I wanted to ask him 2 questions. First, if you feel that the holiday is just a way for greeting card companies to make money, why support it? And second, do you think your wife really appreciates the sentiment behind what you’re doing? “Here, I got you flowers because American Greetings said I had to, but I didn’t really want to.” Oh…wow. Thanks!
Often times, we find ourselves engaged in things that we really don’t believe in, but we feel we have to do them because there’s so much pressure to do it. I think Social Media may fall squarely into this category for some people and companies.
If you’re going to invest this kind of time, it had better be fun
At the College of Wooster, where I earned my undergraduate degree (that’s Wooster, Ohio, not Worcester, Massachusetts…I have the souvenirs to prove it), seniors had to do an Independent Study project. You had to turn it in right after Spring Vacation, and believe me, for most of us it was a labor of love that lasted the whole year. I learned during that year that if you aren’t really interested in something that you are committing a lot of time to, it not only becomes a real albatross around your neck, but it also becomes quite apparent that your heart is not in it.
In Social Media, too, it is very easy to tell when someone isn’t having fun, genuine fun, with what they are doing. Now, understand, when I say “fun,” I don’t mean you have to have videos of yourself juggling in every blog post (that would be bad news for me as I can’t even juggle 2 things at a time). Maybe the better word is passion, but then passion is getting overused lately. Let me put it this way. Every day, after I get home from work, I spend 3-4 hours engaging with my community in my Social Media world. I work on blogs, I go to Third Tribe, where I’m a member, I try to catch loose ends of conversations from Twitter, I comment on blogs, I participate in my chats, and I visit Facebook. To me, even though it’s a lot of effort and a lot of time, it’s fun. I love writing. I love communicating with people who may or may not have thoughts similar to my own. I love learning. I love helping. It’s fun for me.
If you have to spend 3-4 hours on something and you don’t think it’s doing any good, it will not do any good for you. It’s just as simple as that.
The ramifications of engaging in Social Media without enjoyment
If you are on Twitter or on a blog site because you feel like you have to be, but you don’t really believe in any of it and you don’t really enjoy it, there’s a lot that can blow up in your face. For example:
You could lose steam very quickly in updating your blog
Your Facebook account could lie dormant like a hibernating bear
Your Twitter friends will lament that you don’t call, you don’t write
On a personal level, these side effects can be bad. If you are using Social Media for your business, the effects of this seeming lack of dedication could be quite serious. You might be perceived of as being disorganized or not really dedicated. You didn’t have the endurance to stick with it. Maybe your company is no longer around. Maybe you’re not at that company anymore.
If you let people fill in the holes that you leave, they will seldom fill those holes with the best possible scenario.
Back to the pool
A lot of times, people (including me) use the good ole pool analogy when talking Social Media. “You don’t want to jump into the deep end.” “You want to see who else is in the pool first.” “You want to make sure there’s water before you do a swan dive.” I would add one more thing to the pool mix. Michael Phelps didn’t become an Olympic champion by dipping his little toe into the water here and there. He worked his tail off every day, swimming so much his body can’t keep enough weight on his bones. He worked himself raw. And look at the results.
Social Media can earn you the equivalent of gold medals too, whatever that might mean for you. But you have to have the fire. Otherwise, you’ll just sink. The water from the pool will douse you out, and fast.
So before you decide to try Twitter “one more time,” or before you finally cave in on doing Social Media just because someone won’t leave you alone about it, really think about it. It’s a major time investment. It’s dedicating a lot of brain power and hours to a cause you or your company define. Are you ready to do that? If not, talk to lots more people before doing something just to do it. Make sure you can defend the time you are spending. It’s far worse to start and stop then to wait to join. Something to think about.
Image by Diego de Araújo Dutra. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/diegodutr