Why have you joined the social media world?
Some social networkers are there for purely egotistical reasons. They don't want to engage in the conversation. They simply collect followers and friends in order to have bragging rights every time they collect another thousand. But connecting, following or befriending just anyone dilutes your influence and standing among those in your audience.
Others join because they feel they must. They spend a few days setting up their profiles and then abandon them when other tasks call.
The real motivation for any business social networker is connection: You should want to connect with like-minded people who can help your business and whose businesses you can assist. You want to add to the conversation, and not come across as desperate, spammy or a waste of time. If you develop a bad reputation in these communities, it will be hard to shake off.
But making such strong, real connections takes time, effort and thoughtfulness. If you never return to your profiles, you and your business will be forgotten (best case) or seen as unconnected, clueless or lazy (worst case). If you post too much, people might consider you a pest and stop following you.
Some social networkers are the worst of both worlds: They don't post to their blog or text their friends or colleagues for weeks at a time. They don't reply to messages sent to them, and the company site looks like it has gone out of business. Then, without any warning, they're back . . . alive . . . and conversing. Was the organization's social networking person out of the country? Did they suffer a grave illness? Nope. They were just distracted, disorganized, sidetracked or overworked. There's no method to the company's madness in being a social networking participant. Not committed. No strategy. Its influence will never be felt. The competition will soon fill the void.
Whether your company is a one-person business or a large organization, your commitment to social networking should be consistent, compelling and informative. The social networking community is a fragile, collaborative ecosystem. Make the commitment. People will follow a trail of dependable, exciting, instructive news. But once the trail goes cold, they're gone and likely never to return.
Being a social media maniac isn't the right persona either. You know who we're talking about. These people can answer emails on their laptops with one hand while texting friends or colleagues on their iPhones with the other. They can't be looked in the eye when talking because their heads are always looking down at some screen. This behavior may be seen as good technology gone bad.
The key is to strike a balance somewhere in the middle. Avoid becoming a social media ignorer or a social media maniac. Develop a social networking schedule that does not run your life but does keep you accountable. The goal should be consistency. Choose a schedule and stay the course for at least six months. As you find success, you can slowly grow your social networking persona.