Social Media In Moderation

When I first got into blogging, I found the whole experience to be fascinating. I couldn’t believe I could write about anything I wanted and that other people would randomly find it online using searchable words on Google. Then they would actually read and comment. I know, it must sound a little geeky for some of you but for me… it was a new frontier to be conquered.

So I started blogging… almost every day.

In 2007, I joined Twitter and my online life went to another level. The experience, again, was fascinating and I immediately saw the vast opportunity to connect and engage with people on a whole new level. At first, myself and my close friends who started on twitter in 2007 were made fun of and joked about around casual conversations by people who weren’t on twitter … YET … and didn’t understand at all what it’s potential was.

“oh… are you going to twitter that out there, Twitter Boy??” I would here…

“why yes… I am”

In my head this is what I would think… I’m building something with my passions and trying to connect people in a different way. What are you doing? Playing onstage to the same number of people who are following me online? Go right ahead, at least I don’t have to leave home or spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in radio, marketing and time away from family to get them to listen to me…

Now, everyone is on twitter and it’s continuing to grow at alarming rates. Thank you Oprah and Ashton Kutcher for letting everyone know it’s cool and ok to be on Twitter.

Facebook’s growth has seen the biggest growth as most of us know and has forever changed the way we connect with people from our past and our present. For some of us, it’s a normal part of our day.

But here I sit…

I don’t blog everyday because sometime I just don’t have much to say or my day is truly so busy it’s hard to get the energy to sit down and write something out after tackling emails, phone calls and meetings all day.

Twitter has become a different beast for me. When I started, it was mostly about what I was doing and who I was hanging with. What fun we were all having and showing the world this crazy life I feel like I live at times. But mostly it was about me… not you. I was leading conversation online, but I wasn’t really IN the conversation. Make sense?

Once that got a little old and a guy named Chris Brogan came along and said something monumental about twitter.

He said, and I’m paraphrasing…

80% of your tweets should be about others, retweeting others, talking about others, tweeting out links of what you are reading of other peoples content and what your friends should support or news they should know about but not about yourself. Replying to others who engage you in conversation and so on.

The other 20% can be about you. What you are doing, what you are blogging about, where you are going, who you are hanging with… you get the picture.

Once I started to grasp this, my life on twitter and facebook changed. I don’t care so much to tell others about what great wine I’m drinking when I’m drinking it or who I’m hanging with every time I go out with friends or people I work with. I still do this on occasion… but not all the time. Plus, I’ve been taking my triathlon training a little more seriously, so I’ve cut some parts of life to a minimum like what I eat and drink.

Here’s the deal.

All things in moderation.

ALL THINGS.

Social media is a powerful form of communication and engagement. It’s proving to be one of most efficient forms of marketing for businesses world-wide.

But on the personal level, for me it’s becoming a little more about how well I use it in times of moderation and finding a balance that makes sense for me.

I’ve set it up to pay attention to certain people or to read streams a certain way that keeps me in loop and up to date. But it’s not consuming my day.

I remember Michael Hyatt talking early on about how much time he actually spends in one day on twitter (tweeting and reading the twitter stream.) About 20 minutes a day.

Well, that’s just a reminder of how much time there is in the day to get everything else in life done and to be able to be present while in the room with others.

I’m saying all of this because it’s been on my mind lately.

I think it’s like everything else in life… It’s in moderation. It’s in finding a balance within the day that doesn’t get consumed… at least for me, by social media.

It’s taking what I love to do and find its niche online so that I can connect with others who have the same passions or hobbies.

Foodspotting, Map My Tri, Foursquare, Trip It, Posterous Photos. These are all places I delegate my online presence and feed them into Facebook through Twitter.

The challenge and balance for me is to be more purposeful with them and not always looking for every opportunity to overwhelm the system.

It all leads me to wonder…

How do we do life in moderation? How do we not let our passions and hobbies consume us to the point that we drop the ball in other areas of our lives? How do we find balance in all of this so that we can be present in the lives of people who are in the same room with us? How do we do this and yet still share a portion of our lives with the world?

  • http://twitter.com/CheerfulKim Kim Wilson

    You’re so right, Spence. Life must be lived in moderation. It seems that most people have compulsive tendencies in which they try to consume a lot and even too much of things they crave: attention, social interaction, food, acceptance, etc. (myself included).

    Two things that seem to help me are: practice being disciplined and find accountability. Practice discipline in eating, or tv watching, or exercising. A lot of times I find more success in other areas once I’ve developed a habit of discipline in a specific area. Accountability and encouragement toward that goal (whatever it is) go a long way. Thanks for this great post!

    • http://www.spencesmith.com Spence Smith

      Thanks Kim… I agree. I love having that accountability. Even when it hurts. I’m one to consume too much especially in the past. Trying to curb things feels more refreshing these days.

  • http://www.kevinteast.com Kevin East

    Yes, Spence.

    We can get caught up in wanting to increase our number of followers as opposed to really considering who we are following.

    Social media can become addicting.  It’s at that point where it is no longer a tool to be used, but a master that is in control.

    I appreciate how you are using a good medium in moderation, to inspire people to so much more.