7 Ways to Own Social Media Before it Owns You

Written on November 13, 2007 – 5:15 pm | by Brian Wallace |

Achieving a work - life balance in the face of social media

Last night, before sitting down to power through some serious social media activity, it really hit me.

I told myself that I need to blog something because my Alexa rank was slipping.

Alexa Rank?? What??? Am I insane???

When I started looking at my latest blogging performance, I noticed that my posts have been much shorter lately on social media. Much less than when I would primarily write about blogging tips and starting a blog.

Then, I started to look at some of my daily social media activities:

  • Reading RSS feeds of my favorite blogs (I hate RSS, even full feed – but they are a necessary evil. Still, I try to actually read blogs that I like)
  • Finding interesting content
  • Submitting interesting content
  • Checking stats
  • Friending people on MyBlogLog
  • Responding to my own comments
  • IM conversations with people all over the globe (read: no sleep if I wanted to talk to all of them all the time)
  • Write a few posts (some start to finish, some partial thoughts) and coming up with post ideas
  • Prepare for blog interviews
  • Submit stories to several social networks
  • Save bookmarks on del.icio.us
  • Stumble some sites
  • Sphinn some stories
  • Comment on other blogs
  • Perpetuate poke, superpoke, vampire, and slayer wars on Facebook
  • Ask others for Sphinn votes. (No, scratch that) :)
  • Twittering, since everyone wants to know up to the minute details about my cat? Newsflash: I don’t have a cat.

Wow, all these activities are really fragmenting. Not super time consuming, as you can multitask, but fragmenting. Like 20 tabs up in Firefox and other apps all over the place fragmenting.

Can we really multitask as well as we think? Kathy Sierra, one of my favorite bloggers ever, would argue that we cannot multitask effectively. (By the way Kathy, if you read this – please, please return to blogging. The world needs you).

So, does this mean that I’m out of the social media space? No way! In fact, expect to see much more from me social media wise very soon ;)

What’s the plan then, you ask? Easy. Instead of suffering from social media overload, look at a few other disciplines and tips for help:

1 – Focus. Getting hit from different IM’s, especially from offline ones when first signing in can really send you off in different directions. Actually turn off IM once in a while. I’ve tried this off and on over the last week or so, and some people were actually concerned :)

2 – Sleep. Whenever I get tired, but always wake up at the same time (for me, this is 6am). I first saw this on Evan Williams’ blog but it’s originally from Steve Pavlina

3 – Balance. Whether you have a physical / sports, religious / spiritual, art, or whatever outlet – use it. I’m personally a very religious person, and am glad that I am.

4 – Stop talking about social media to people that don’t care about it. Try not to talk everyone’s ear off about social media that isn’t in the space. My apologies to all family and friends that still don’t know what I do, but see that I’m clearly excited about it :) You know that guy that walks around with the hands free that looks like he’s talking to himself? Annoying, right? Don’t be him.

5 – Family time. Whether you’re an 18 year old social media pro or someone with a wife and kids, your family likes you. Walk away from the computer for a few minutes. You might notice that your kids have grown since you last looked at them :)

6 – Cross pollinate your brain. Find something opposite of social media to do for a while to let the social media parts of your brain recharge. You’re an SEO? Go do SEO (non-social media) work for your clients. You’re a zookeeper? Well, feed those seals already. They can’t live on Diggs alone! :) Learn some new skills or enhance ones that you already have.

7 – Unplug. Do something that’s not in front of the computer (since you’ll be tempted to Stumble it if it is something good). Read a book, watch a movie, do some knitting, cook, eat, play a game, jump out of a plane – whatever. A friend of mine even went so far as to go into an underwater cage where folks from above throw food down so that Great White Sharks try to get into your cage. He says it’s a rush, but I think I’ll read a book. :)

It’s fine to engage in social media snacking. Just don’t lose sight that life is the main course.

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  1. 49 Responses to “7 Ways to Own Social Media Before it Owns You”

  2. By Meg on Nov 13, 2007 | Reply

    Great first post, Brian. Congrats on getting the blog up and running – I’m looking forward to more.

  3. By Brian Wallace on Nov 13, 2007 | Reply

    @Meg: thanks! Glad to see you around here. We’ll do our best to keep it up!

  4. By Barbara on Nov 13, 2007 | Reply

    Thanks for posting that. I can totally relate to talking to people that aren’t into social media about social media. They don’t care and they’ll just think you’re nuts, so don’t bother.

  5. By Tad Chef on Nov 13, 2007 | Reply

    My methods: Set a time limit for social media participation.

    Do it only when you’re too tired for real online or computer work, e.g. in the evening after work.

    Social media should never be used for their own sake. Use them to promote good causes, friendly people or even your own business. Do not do it without a purpose out of boredom.

  6. By Tanner Hobin on Nov 13, 2007 | Reply

    Thanks for the tips Brian. I’m going to have to try this thing you call “sleep”.

  7. By Local SEO Guide on Nov 13, 2007 | Reply

    Love the header design!

    Congrats on the new blog. Not sure how this first post with it’s “unplug” message squares with my desire to now add yet another feed to my reader.

  8. By Terry Hammes on Nov 13, 2007 | Reply

    #4- Talking About Social Media To People That Don’t Care About It” The issue is not so much that people don’t care, but that they are “uninitiated.” It is difficult to explain the direct dollar impact of social media networks. As an advertising professional, we are used to dealing in CPM’s – Cost Per Thousands – the dollar cost per thousand to get your message across. With this media, the reach is so broad, you have to ask, how to quantify your target market to get and really generate sales?

  9. By Jeff Quipp on Nov 13, 2007 | Reply

    Nice post Brian! Good advice … it can get away from you pretty quickly! What a way to start a new site … with a bang. Congrats all!

  10. By Jim Tobin at Ignite Social Media on Nov 13, 2007 | Reply

    Brian,

    You’re absolutely right about this. You can look up and find that the day is gone, but “social” is online and off… Balance is key, or you end up with more feeds in your RSS reader than you have real world friends… Looking forward to watching this site grow (once I put the kids to bed anyway…)

    Here’s a tip: When working at home at night, only work as long as your laptop battery will allow you…. Oh look, mine’s about to die…

    ~Jim

  11. By Brian Wallace on Nov 14, 2007 | Reply

    @barbara: you’re welcome. I know what you mean. What’s funny is that sometimes when you talk to people that don’t care about social media, once you talk to them about it, they actually do gain an appreciation.

    @tad: nice. Social media as a sleep aid :)

    @tanner: If you’ve ever seen the movie Dark City: “Sleep, now”. If not, go watch it :)

    @local seo guide: thanks! Go ahead and add us to your reader, we won’t stop you. The “unplug” message was to address an important issue that I think many of us suffer from in social media. If we were more focused and slept a little more, we could probably do more in less time. I remember listening to part of your post on Goldmine, and one of the first things you said was how tired you were. This isn’t a criticism – just that this is a practice that we could all benefit from.

    @terry: you raise some good points. As mentioned in my reply to Barbara above, the “uninitiated” as you put it could become adopters and supporters of social media with the right information. As far as comparing social media to more traditional CPM fundamentals…remember this. Although social media brings a lot of traffic and broach reach, its power is in the backlinks.

    @jeff: thanks, and glad you liked the first post.

    @jim: thank you for your kind words. In regard to your laptop battery point – sounds cool, but my laptop battery never seems to die, since I always have my laptop plugged in :)

  12. By Adam Taylor on Nov 14, 2007 | Reply

    I’m eagerly awaiting all the quality articles that are clearly going to come from this blog with the top authors you have.

    Perhaps you could think about removing a plugin or two? I really don’t like that “x most popular link out” thing. Share-this looks a bit broken too.

    I’m not personally keen on the digg/sphinn buttons either but I guess they might be useful.

    Anyway, good luck, you’ve got a new subscriber.

  13. By Tim Nash on Nov 14, 2007 | Reply

    Hey Adam we are eagerly awaiting people reading posts! As for the plugins’ as we get our feet firmly established, I’m sure we will start looking at which plugins’ will stay and which will go :) but for now we are getting the quality articles sorted. As for Social media buttons we wouldn’t be much of a social media site without some sort of homage to Sphinn would we.

  14. By John LoGioco on Nov 14, 2007 | Reply

    Brian – Congratulations on the launch. From having the pleasure of knowing you since SMX, I look forward to more great content and social media thoughts from you and the group at Collective Thoughts. It’s good form to use a social platform like this with multiple voices to discuss social media. Good luck.

  15. By Brian Wallace on Nov 14, 2007 | Reply

    @john: thanks for stopping by, and was great meeting you too at SMX. Glad to see you here.

  16. By Linda Bustos on Nov 14, 2007 | Reply

    Great first post, and funny! Keep those cat updates coming Brian.

  17. By Brian Wallace on Nov 14, 2007 | Reply

    @linda: lol, you’ll be the first to know all about my imaginary cat – you wouldn’t believe what it was up to today :)

  18. By jordan widel on Nov 14, 2007 | Reply

    Man i have let stumble and digg take over my time now i’m gonna fight back

  19. By Mark Blair on Nov 14, 2007 | Reply

    The concerns that you voiced about the ability we have to really multitask is spot on. I think that attempting to multitask adds an undercurrent of stress and saps our creativity.

    One of the dangers in Web 2.0 is that the ever expanding amount of social contexts that we need to keep track of begins to overwhelm us and require filtering.

    Much in the way the efficiency of RSS has changed the way we experience blogs, I expect that a standardization of social networking APIs will eventually make it possible for us to “subscribe to conversations” in the same fashion as we do feeds.

    But as you point out in regards to RSS — this will be an unfortunate but “necessary” evil.

  20. By Brian Wallace on Nov 14, 2007 | Reply

    @jordan: what are you doing, jordan? (in hal 9000 voice) :)

    @mark: solid comments. Your subscribe to conversations point is a good one. Comment subscriptions and social media site rss feeds are getting there, but are still in their early stages IMHO.

    Also, your point about the undercurrent of stress is good – isn’t it silly that we should be stressed out over social media?

  21. By Jill on Nov 15, 2007 | Reply

    This is some great advice. I can definitely relate to your last few points. I think it’s really important to make time to unplug. It helps to keep things in perspective. Without perspective and some sense of what’s happening in the real world, it can be difficult to have enjoyable conversations with friends and family who are sick of hearing about the power of social media.

  22. By Brian Wallace on Nov 15, 2007 | Reply

    @jill: glad you liked it. Unplugging is very important and so is leaving your family and friends alone about social media.

    I, however, didn’t take my own advice today and need some sleep already :)

  23. By Michael Brito on Nov 27, 2007 | Reply

    Sleep? What’s that?

    Between Yahoo!, PS3 (call of duty), family, blogging, commenting, twittering, facebooking, digging, deliciousing, Mixxing (just started this), myblogloging, redditing and sphinning and a couple of others – there is no time for sleep!

  24. By Michael Brito on Nov 27, 2007 | Reply

    oh, and I forgot….

    emailing, stumbleuponing

  25. By Brian Wallace on Nov 30, 2007 | Reply

    @michael: I hear that sleeping gets to 10 stumble reviews :)

  26. By geri on Dec 2, 2007 | Reply

    I very much understand your need to recharge. My question is do you actually make any money using all these sites?

  27. By Kristen on Dec 11, 2007 | Reply

    That is an awesome list Brian! I definitely can relate to #5. How many times has dinner been served late because I just wanted to stumble a few more sites.

    Also, I have taken up knitting again to re-charge my brain in the evenings. It has really helped. Accept, then I want to go check out how many knitting blogs I can find to Stumble.

    Is there hope for me?

  28. By Michael Brito on Dec 11, 2007 | Reply

    @Brian…

    yes indeed. You can also pay for stumbles! lol.

  29. By Brian Wallace on Dec 11, 2007 | Reply

    @Kristen: I’m glad you liked the article! Knitting is a great release, and you’re even doing something productive in your downtime – kudos!

    There’s hope for you yet! :)

    @Michael Brito: I don’t recommend paying for Stumbles. Most in the space agree with my position as well.

  30. By Michael Brito on Dec 11, 2007 | Reply

    of course..i dont either; but it’s out there – among other shady marketing practices.

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