Making Sense of Social Networking

December 30th, 2008 by Bob Bly

I am convinced (though I don’t do it myself) that social networking has value.

But what no social networking expert has come up with yet (in my opinion) is a plan to make social networking manageable, so it delivers a higher ROTI (return on time invested).

Maybe together we can come up with such a plan on this blog, if you would be kind enough to post answers to 2 questions I have:

1. How much time per day (or per week) do you spend on social networking to make it really deliver positive results for you?

2. There are so many alternatives for social networking (e.g., Twitter, Squidoo, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc.). What is your favorite (or maybe your top 2-3) and what is the best way to use it?

My goal is to come up with a definitive, step-by-step plan to marketing and promotion with social networking — something like “Social Networking Success in Just 21 Minutes a Day.”

(Of course you can read the results free here.)

Can we do it?

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 30th, 2008 at 2:32 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

47 responses about “Making Sense of Social Networking”

  1. ACASA » Blog Archive » Making Sense of Social Networking said:

    [...] Original post: Making Sense of Social Networking [...]

  2. Steve said:

    Couple thoughts (all likely obvious) –

    Goals. Why are you _________ (blogging, twitting, linking in)? Improve pagerank? Drive traffic? Build your list? Figure that out.

    Metrics. Pick and baseline a metric to track your performance over time. Start tracking.

    Focus. If your clients are not on facebook, don’t you be. Choose media (social and otherwise) that reach your target.

    Screen. Screen for media that might diminish your professional stature. Jack Welch is not atwitter. For adult execs/professionals (read non-millenials), this probably means linkedIN, Xoom, jigsaw, execunet might make sense; facebook, twitter, et al, likely do not.

    Good luck and thanks for all the free resources.

    /sge

  3. Debby said:

    What if social networking is just fun???

  4. Brett Owens said:

    I spend between 30 and 45 minutes a day currently – my big 3 are Blogs, LinkedIn, and Twitter, in that order.

    My time spent on blogs – reading, commenting, and writing – has been well invested I believe. It helps me stay on the leading edge of discussions, contribute to them, educate myself, and connect with others in the conversations. Our most notable success was a recent interview with Inc mag – a reporter called me up after reading a comment I left on a BusinessWeek article.

    Our PR person, Josh Morgan of Morgan/Dorado, preaches this as an effective way to connect with reporters nowadays, as most search comment sections online for story leads, lacking the Rolodex reporters had in times past. When possible, I try to read something online, rather than in print, for the commenting factor.

    LinkedIn also has been of great value – it’s basically allowed me to scrap cold calling once and for all. Much easier to see who knows who and get an introduction using LI. Haven’t figured out the newer features yet, such as the Groups.

    Twitter I haven’t figured out yet – I see the potential – but I’d chalk up most of my Twitter time to learning thus far.

  5. Bob Bly said:

    Steve: What are some of the most common metrics used to measure social networking ROI/effectiveness?

  6. dianacacy said:

    I’ll be more equipped to participate in this over the next few months or so. Up until now, I’ve only used the social networks to maintain connections and collect information in the field of copywriting and marketing. In January, I’ll start using social marketing to help with driving traffic to a project. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Digg, LinkedIn, and message boards. I’ll be experimenting a lot with it, so I should be able to come up with some things that works as well as those that don’t.

    I do believe the key thing is to know where your market hangs out. Don’t waste time posting to the teens on myyearbook.com when your type of buyers are on facebook.

    I expect more feedback from Twitter than the others, because there’s more exchanging between people who aren’t necessarily “friends” and most profiles are public. I expect a bit less from Facebook because most profiles are public, so you have to get them to friend you and participate to the point where you are their friend more than elsewhere.

    With social sites spend time in the beginning getting people to know you and trust you enough to become your friend. I’ve witnessed with Twitter that the more someone responds to the comments of followers (with sincere answers), the more willing they are to respond to their websites.

  7. Steve said:

    Bob –

    For our (start-up) effort, I am going to be looking at a couple things. #1 is downloads of our e-book – Owner’s Roadmap to Winning with Outside Executive Talent. Then we’ll be lookning at conversions off of that list. When we launch our blog, we are going to make the download offer directly on the blog site. In addition, as we build out our content (blog; etc.)I am going to be looking at pagerank and and the resultant lead flow from targetted keywords.

    Suggestions?

    Steve

  8. Stardust Global Ventures » Is social networking simply just human communications? said:

    [...] the post from Bob Bly. My thoughts are below Making Sense of Social Networking I am convinced (though I don’t do it myself) that social networking has value.But what no social [...]

  9. Stephanie (morphone on twitter) said:

    I’m trying to waste less time on social network these days, but the few I frequent are:

    Twitter
    Facebook
    LinkedIn
    Foodbuzz

    A few interesting services that allow you to ping them all at once are popping up. They may be good time savers to avoid getting sucked into Facebook when you originally just planned to post:

    HelloTxt
    Ping.fm

  10. Best Virtual Advertising » Blog Archive » Making Sense of Social Networking - bly.com blog - bly.com direct … said:

    [...] unknown wrote an interesting post today onMaking Sense of Social Networking – bly.com blog – bly.com direct …Here’s a quick excerptMy goal is to come up with a definitive, step-by-step plan to marketing and promotion with social networking — something like “Social Networking Success in Just 21 Minutes a Day.” (Of course you can read the results free here.) … [...]

  11. dianacacy said:

    Also, I just saw this posted by someone on Twitter about the government debating the use of social media. Might be some useful thoughts hiding in it.

    http://www.usa.gov/webcontent/documents/SocialMediaFed%20Govt_BarriersPotentialSolutions.pdf

  12. Your Publicity To You » Blog Archive » Making Sense of Social Networking - bly.com blog - bly.com direct … said:

    [...] unknown wrote an interesting post today onMaking Sense of Social Networking – bly.com blog – bly.com direct …Here’s a quick excerptMy goal is to come up with a definitive, step-by-step plan to marketing and promotion with social networking — something like “Social Networking Success in Just 21 Minutes a Day.” (Of course you can read the results free here.) … [...]

  13. Josh Morgan said:

    Steve hit the nail on the head right out of the gate. Set manageable, measurable goals i.e. raise traffic to a certain metric, or generate a set number of leads.

    That being said, if all you are doing is “taking” from social media you won’t meet those goals. The key is providing value for others. If you give, you will receive.

    Find the places where your customers are already talking about you, your company, or problems that you solve, then devote time to listening. Then contribute.

  14. Troy Bingham - Lead Response Manager said:

    I am very interested in this as well and will be following this discussion closely.

    As for myself, Linked In and Facebook. 15 min. per day but no great results.

  15. Bob Bly said:

    Josh: I think we all understand that you have to be a valuable resource and give great content on social networks. The question is: what tangible ROTI (return on time invested) does that giving provide? If it does not generate a positive ROTI, why do it?

  16. Online Advertising Live » Blog Archive » Making Sense of Social Networking - bly.com blog - bly.com direct … said:

    [...] unknown wrote an interesting post today onMaking Sense of Social Networking – bly.com blog – bly.com direct …Here’s a quick excerptMy goal is to come up with a definitive, step-by-step plan to marketing and promotion with social networking — something like “Social Networking Success in Just 21 Minutes a Day.” (Of course you can read the results free here.) … [...]

  17. dianacacy said:

    Copyblogger has a blog post about using Twitter that’s making the rounds through the postings today at http://www.copyblogger.com/grow-business-twitter/

    Personally, I have to report that I spend the bulk of my time reading updates for blogs I’ve subscribed to through google reader, Twitter, and Facebook. Probably amounts to about 2 hours a day, but it’s on my “downtime”, during breaks where I allow it and after work, and part of it is for family. So, maybe 1 1/2 hours a day during the week for networking. I tend to just casually check my accounts quickly for anything needing immediate replies on the weekend.

    But my work habits are strange compared to others. I work odd hours, instead of set daytime hours.

  18. Note Taking Nerd #2 said:

    Quick question…

    Does anyone here make their blog posts do double duty by also submitting them to article directories after the blog has been credited as the original source by Google?

    Michel Fortin said on his blog that Google released a statement saying this strategy would not be considered duplicate content.

    It seems to me this is a process that could generate tons of traffic while shaving time off your networking.

    Just wondering if anyone here is making this work. Any help would be mucho appreciated.

    Note Taking Nerd #2
    http://www.mynotetakingnerd.wordpress.com

  19. Big Marketing For You » Blog Archive » Making Sense of Social Networking - bly.com blog - bly.com direct … said:

    [...] unknown wrote an interesting post today onMaking Sense of Social Networking – bly.com blog – bly.com direct …Here’s a quick excerptunknown wrote an interesting post today onMaking Sense of Social Networking – bly.com blog – bly.com direct …Here’s a quick excerptMy goal is to come up with a definitive, step-by-step plan to marketing and promotion with social … [...]

  20. Josh Morgan said:

    For me personally, I spend about an average of two hours per day using either reading or contributing using social media. This is split between reading blogs, Twitter feeds and contributing to both. I would say that my presence in social media has directly resulted in about $80k in business for my company over the past year. So, my time spent is generating about $100 per hour in incremental revenue.

  21. Bob Bly said:

    Josh: that’s certainly respectable, but would you also agree with this observation: if your billing rate was, say $200 per hour, your cost for social media would be $100,000 a year to generate that $80,000 a year in business?

  22. dianacacy said:

    I would like to know about doubling your blog posts as articles because I’m getting into doing that with mine. I’m guessing that as long as it’s on a different website completely, it’s not considered duplicate.

    It makes sense that it would not count as duplicate material to me, or else people who have their articles processed through distribution services like iSnare.com, or who post them to different article directories would show up as duplicate materials.

    I’ve used iSnare.com and my articles have ranked high in their particular search. But I have only a few out there and need to put a lot more out to test this.

  23. dianacacy said:

    Bob,

    In figuring Josh’s findings, even at the $200 level, what would be the exponential value of the social media connections made?

    There could be growth value to using social media in the clients you directly gain referring you to others, and then those referring to more. Not to mention the popularity of your name/business getting out there as someone reliable to go to over the period of time.

    There’s potential to cut the time spent on social media as an individual develops a routine. Plugins to synchronize postings among various social sites and blogs are out there, and more are being developed and refined all the time.

    Also, when needed, outsourcing the social media upkeep that doesn’t need the personal touch to it to an assistant has potential.

  24. Bob Bly said:

    Dianacacy: It seems to me the exponential value you talk about is already factored into Josh’s reported $80,000 in revenues.

    As for outsourcing social networking, it has huge appeal to me, but can it be done? If it was ever revealed, wouldn’t it destroy one’s credibility in the social networking sphere?

    I would be interested in learning how and where this could be outsourced and if that could work.

    I would be more interested in developing, as I originally stated here, a workable do-it-yourself social networking marketing plan similar to Josh’s that would give me a positive ROTI (return on time invested).

    Josh’s 2-hours a day, though the revenue is impressive, would not do it for me unless I could outsource that. If I did that myself, I’d lose money.

  25. Dianna Huff said:

    Bob,

    I love Twitter. It’s an easy way to find really great information. It’s also an easy way to connect with people that I would never have the chance to connect with otherwise.

    How do I place a value on connection with someone within a huge company? I don’t know. All I know is that I didn’t have to send DM, I didn’t have to cold call, I didn’t have to do anything — except write a blog post regarding something I saw on Twitter.

  26. dianacacy said:

    Can we set up social media sites the same way we set up our autoresponders?

    If you use the right combination of plugins to automate the process, perhaps the time spent can be brought down to a more reasonable level.

    As for outsourcing, personal updates and personal messages to your followers (and responses) have to be done by you, of course. But if you have multiple social sites that cannot be coordinated by the plugins, and you standardize your updates perhaps having an assistant post the updates to the sites for you will save time.

    This is just a theory that could work if your updates are like blog posts from you. A few years ago, my son helped me with my online updating. He did normal quality checking for a few resource sites, and then he took a blog post I wrote and posted it to five different areas for me. It was personal message to anyone who followed me in those areas. Mostly blogs and message boards.

    I don’t do this now, but it makes me think that perhaps it could work on a busier social networking schedule.

    A variation of this could work if you have different followers on different sites. The danger is that this could irritate your followers if they also follow you on the other sites.

    I believe there’s value in the personal touch to the social sites. The value of spending the time to do it depends on the person. Obviously, networking this way gives Josh some sort of personal satisfaction that makes giving up that time worth it.

    Bob, networking this way is not personally worth it for you. You may have to imagine yourself being someone like Josh in order to write it. At least the rough draft. Then maybe the answer will come better.

    I’m not sure the bottom line will come out the way you’re looking for it to. With more research, I might be proven wrong in this.

    Another factor I’ve thought of is SEO. Does the social marketing efforts increase SEO for online businesses? And how much is that worth?

  27. Bob Bly said:

    Dianna Huff: Twitter takes time I don’t have. But I can send 100 or 300 direct mail pieces in 30 seconds: just call my assistant and say “send our letter to these prospects” — and it’s done. What kind of “valuable information” do you find on Twitter? To me it seems a thundering bore and a huge waste of my time.

  28. Dianna Huff said:

    Bob,

    You are confusing two things: social media and direct marketing.

    I am not using Twitter to sell products — nor would I.

    I do not use an assistant and email blasts to “meet” people — nor would I.

    Apples and oranges.

    In about 30 seconds I can find all sorts of things on Twitter:
    Links to blog posts
    Links to reports
    Links to viral marketing campaigns
    Links to breaking news

    I can use Twitter to follow news makers, reporters, other bloggers, etc. Through Twitter I get to know people.

  29. Dianna Huff said:

    PS — Go look at my current blog post — http://marcom-writer-blog.com/?p=306

    The inspiration came from Rick Burnes, who posted something similar on HubSpot’s blog — which he posted on Twitter.

    He and I traded a few responses back and forth on Twitter and through those I learned that some of my blog posts are showing up in Digg.

  30. Bob Bly said:

    Dianna: I am not confusing anything. Read your comment #25 above. YOU are the one who contrasted Twitter with DM — not me.

  31. Dianna Huff said:

    Bob,

    I meant that I didn’t have to send out a direct mail letter in order to capture someone’s attention.

  32. dianacacy said:

    I’ve been analyzing what exactly I spend time on during my social media time for the last few days.

    Average seems natural at 1 1/2 hours per day.

    But…only 1/2 hour of that time is for business networking purposes. About 15 minutes to 1/2 hour is for family. The rest is learning about what’s out there in the copywriting and marketing fields from other copywriters and masters.

    That’s what I do now. I also did some practice runs with how much time it will take me with my current social media plans that start this week.

    Updating all my blogs and the four social sites I’m using with a daily notice will take 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how long the blog posts are.

    My participation of networking with others in the field will increase to 30 minutes a day.

    That still makes it 1 1/2 hours a day for business networking. Kind of steep for me. It means I’ll have to increase my daily business marketing time block from 2 hours to 3, or 4 when I’m preparing a DM for the day. (I’m not to the point where I have an assistant, so if my son’s not available, I still do the outsource-able work myself.)

    What I do know is that the social site use is valuable to me for business networking. I hope to have the freedom later in the year to start meeting people in person at conventions, but so far this is the only way I’ve been able to meet more advanced copywriters and marketers and actually interact with them as people and not product/service providers.

    If each social site had a good stats plugin, that would really help.

  33. Bob Bly said:

    Dianacacy: I have no idea how long your work day is. But if you spend 1.5 hours a day on social networks out of a 10-hour work day, 15% of your time — time that could be devoted to billable hours — is spend on social media.

    If you earn $300,000 a year as a solopreneur, that’s a $45,000 a year investment of time.

    Is there a way to cut that 90 minutes down to 10 minutes a day and still get the same results? That’s the proposition I want to test.

    Speaking of testing, an e-mail I got from Marketing Profs last week stated, and I quote: “An obsessive focus on traditional marketing ROI leads to social media failure.”

    This is one of the more preposterous lr at least controversial statements I’ve heard in my 3 decades in marketing: that attempting to quanity performance, define metrics, and measure in itself will hurt that performance.

    Can you imagine interviewing a new ad agency and being told: “Don’t measure sales, clicks, or any other metrics for the marketing programs we implement for you. Doing so will cause them to fail.”

    I side with British scientist Lord Kelvin who said: “when you can measure something and express it in numbers, you know something about it.”

    Not all marketing methods can be measured as precisely as some.

    But to say “please don’t measure what we recommend at all” seems either the height of absurdity or an attempt to sell snake oil to unsuspecting clients.

  34. Selling contact lenses online via social networking said:

    I am involved in an initiative to build our sites SEO value by attacking the social networking front. I personally like “twitter” but am not yet convinced of its weight and value for a website selling contact lenses online. It is young in the process and results are not immediately quantifiable but I am bullish that this will help.

  35. Bob Bly said:

    As I mentioned I am formulating a “Results With Social Networking in 15 Minutes a Day” plan we are going to test. I can tell you Twitter is the lead site we are going to use. I see the 140-character limit as having huge appeal for busy people vs. the unlimited mindless content of MySpace, Facebook, and some other sites.

  36. dianacacy said:

    Yes, the 15 percent of my time is a huge concern for me and something I will keep experimenting with to cut down. It’s become a challenge for me now. *grin* It must get down to a small portion of that because in my daily goal, social networking is one of five tasks in my Network/Traffic time slot. I only allow 40 percent of my time for all five tasks.

    Twitter is the only one, in my opinion, that gives the potential of knocking the time down that far.

    I believe there is a way to connect your blog and Twitter account, so that when you post to your blog, it sends the link to your Twitter in a post that your followers can see. Not sure if this is dependent upon what blog system you use, or if they’re all compatible. It’s one thing I’m going to set up and believe that will knock a lot of time off.

    Also, I think there’s a way to connect Twitter and Facebook.

    A lot of people I’m following use Twitter, and it’s cut down my email checking time drastically. (This is for learning from others higher than me, not marketing.)

    It’s easier to click the link in Twitter and get to where I want to read. It’s all there in the post. I can skim, see that there’s a link about something I need to know more about and follow it. Skimming emails is time consuming, seeing that you have to open each one to see what’s really in it. That could be a bonus to know about Twitter if you’re targeting busy people who do not like checking emails.

    Michel Fortin has listed the plugins he uses for his wordpress blog. I know he’s busy and has a lot of followers. I’m going to read through this post and see which ones will help me. Just haven’t had time to do it yet. His post is at http://www.michelfortin.com/wordpress-plugins-michel-fortin-blog/

    Twitter has a search plugin that I haven’t tried either. If they set it up right, it could help in finding your targeted market. Some markets might be more difficult to target. I’m targeting Christians, so that’s easy. Targeting professions and beliefs has potential. Targeting people who use certain products, like the contact lenses, might take a more creative approach.

  37. dianacacy said:

    [Speaking of testing, an e-mail I got from Marketing Profs last week stated, and I quote: “An obsessive focus on traditional marketing ROI leads to social media failure.”]

    I disagree. Misusing social media and not building the trust up between you and your followers would cause the failure. Measuring the ROI will help solidify the value of using social media and attract more marketers to use it.

  38. Bob Massey said:

    Interestingly enough, ClickZ just posted an article today titled “Brands Struggled with Social Media in ’08″ (http://www.clickz.com/3632228).
    Apprently, it ain’t time to put too many marketing eggs in the social media basket just yet. From a personal, standpoint, I haven’t yet begun to use social media for marketing purposes, although I intend to use Facebook for more businesslike pursuits, and other people in my circle of business folks seem to like Twitter (especially) and MySpace, so I’m going to give those a try as well. You’re right, though, about FB and MySpace – they’re such a mixed bag. It’s odd to see fun posts blended with serious biz information (such as that by John Jantsch or Jeff and Bryan Eisenberg). I’d love to hear what results other people are having … so I look forward to seeing where this goes.

  39. dianacacy said:

    Another blog post to add to the mix of thoughts about using social media. This one refers to using it to increase SEO.

    http://www.writingseo.com/archives/one-lost-trust-is-hard-to-regain#

    Reminds us to “keep it real” while we’re out there.

  40. I said:

    I always have the sites I use for networking open, but I leave them in a background window so I can talk but still do work.
    My main three are myspace, facebook and justguys.net (gay networking site for adults)

  41. dianacacy said:

    This blog post has interesting information on how to use Twitter for marketing.

    http://www.strategicinternetmarketingsecrets.com/how-to-use-twitter-for-social-media-marketing/#

  42. Michael A Stelzner said:

    Bob;

    Great post. The questions you ask are also being sought in a new social media industry survey. I would suggest your readers participate here:

    http://tinyurl.com/8yhneh

    Mike

  43. dianacacy said:

    If anyone needs to see stats for social media sites in one spot, there’s a new blog post here

    http://www.thefuturebuzz.com/2009/01/12/social-media-web-20-internet-numbers-stats/

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