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Gini Dietrich

Online Habits: Is Less Really More?

By: Gini Dietrich | July 18, 2013 | 
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Online Habits: Is Less Really More?By Gini Dietrich

Yesterday I received an interesting email from my friend Frank Strong. In it he said he’s doing an interview piece on his blog and he’d like me to answer some questions.

He said, “I don’t want this to be just fluff, though. I want to ask some hard questions tailored to each person. For you, I want to ask about your social engagement. I’ve noticed you aren’t as everywhere as you used to be, which isn’t critical by any means, but I think a useful line of dialogue a lot of people struggle with.”

Since he sent that email, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. You see, I have reduced the amount of my social engagement. Heck, I’ve even reduced the amount of blogging I’m doing here. I’ve reduced a lot of my online activities and it’s been very deliberate.

I won’t ruin the answer I’m going to give Frank in the interview, but I do think it’s important to have the discussion about why our online habits change.

Is Less Really More?

First and foremost, I’ve noticed an interesting trend since I’ve made a conscious choice to simmer down. We’re winning more awards and being listed on the top of social media lists.

For instance, Spin Sucks was named the number three PR blog in the world by Cision and I was named the number 11 most influential advertising executive (advertising??) on Twitter. Even my Klout score has increased. Not that that really matters, but I find it interesting that I’m spending less time online and the score goes up.

But it’s not just the fluff that has increased. My speaking requests have more than doubled and people no longer bristle at the thought of paying me to show up for their event. Our revenue has increased and 2013 will be our best year in history.

I don’t say all of this to brag. I say it because, for four years, I painstakingly chose every one of my Twitter followers and engaged with them in conversation. I read – and commented on – more than 30 blogs every day. I liked and engaged with Facebook fan pages to grow the Arment Dietrich page. I wrote here seven times every week.

Then I slowly began to move away from it all. Not completely, but not as obsessively either. And THEN all of this stuff started to happen.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you participate in your online activities only half-witted, particularly when you’re starting out, but I do wonder if we sometimes become too accessible.

Online Habits Change

I think that’s what was happening with me. I started using the social media tools when the economy tanked and I had some extra time (okay, a lot of extra time). Then I co-authored Marketing in the Round with Geoff Livingston and the publisher required obsessive social networking to sell more books (it doesn’t sell more books, by-the-way). Then I went on the road (63 trips last year!) and met so many of you in person and wanted to continue those relationships online.

Now Arment Dietrich is growing and my team are the perfect fit to help us grow. My priorities have changed. Not only is it my job to be the face of the company, and some of that requires – gasp! – in-person visits, but it’s my job to grow the organization to give my team the resources they need to effectively do their jobs and mentor and coach them so we can scale beyond me.

That means my online habits have to change because, unfortunately, there are only 24 hours in every day.

I remember last year someone said to me, “Oh you’re so big now you can’t comment on blogs anymore.” I’m sure I made some smart aleck comment back, but it really hurt my feelings. If I could get paid to read and comment on blogs all day, every day, that would be my ideal job. I love the different voices and perspectives out there on the web. I love reading what each of you have to say about some of the topics we all discuss.

Unfortunately that doesn’t pay the bills.

I do still read about 30 blogs every day, but have chosen to use the time I used to take to comment on them for other initiatives. Sometimes I get blog post ideas for here and I’ll help you promote your content by linking to it here and sometimes you give me great fodder for my own tweet stream.

Yes, I have chosen to do this. It’s been very deliberate. In some cases, it’s been a test and in others it’s been simply a restructure of my time.

To understand the real catalyst to it all, you’ll have to read Frank’s interview with me (to run in the next couple of weeks), but I will say this: Priorities change. People change. Organizations change. It’s okay to change how you participate online. It certainly won’t be the first time you do it or the last.

P.S. One week from today is our free webinar with email marketing genius, DJ Waldow. Join us on Thursday, July 25 at 11 a.m. CT. Register by clicking here.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is available now.

111 comments
tamara13
tamara13

I really enjoyed reading your post!  It reminded me of the saying "If you love something, set it free.  If it was meant to be, it will come back to you."  It sounds like this is exactly what happened to you!  I love the irony of your klout score increasing with less engagement.  I've never understood the need to be so socially engaged that it feels like a chore.  I thank you for the lessons you have shared and hope to follow them when I find myself overworked and underwhelmed with the pressure of social engagement!   

GhostbloggerMarie
GhostbloggerMarie

Since the day I discovered you I've loved your posts and appreciate them.  There is another side to things - deliberately choosing to do LESS because that's all you WANT to do.  I have a tiny little blog content business and just a few clients and its PLENTY for me for where I am in my life and where I want to be.  Sure, once in awhile, the idea of "more money" runs into my semi-retired attitude, and I hurry to open a back door and let it run right out again!  There comes a point where you want to do other things.  I'm grateful to be at that point.

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

Chiming in here with a chorus of 'you work in social, not for it; social is supposed to work for you.' I read tons, comment plenty and no, it's not paid a single bill. In your case, it's about build up and sustainability. I think it takes a lot to get going, you hit that tipping point at the right time, developed a network to feed the content engine, did the requisite book writing, lecture circuit .. so you're there. Now you can ease back a bit, maintain -- and focus attention on where it needs to be. 

I've been so slacking on my blogging this year (no excuse not to see you once in a while) but at the same time, I'm ok w/ it. Right now, it's not the business engine it needs to be so I'm not missing much. I have other pieces of the puzzle to figure out, how to structure my time and availability, how to develop the kind of business I want. Sometimes social will fit into that, other times.. not so much. Only constant is change. FWIW.

delwilliams
delwilliams

Thanks Gini for finally confirming what I have been seeing from quite a few, including myself. The humorous part is when people tell me nothing has changed.

TonyBennett
TonyBennett

incredibly fascinating.  I've rationed myself so mych that I didn't even know you were rationing. So I guess my stock has skyrocketed!!

kamichat
kamichat

Perhaps the work you put in a few years ago is paying off now. You might find yourself having to purposefully re-engage in a different way in the future. One thing I have learned about social media, it is a marathon, not a sprint. And it changes so much over time.

Latest blog post:

rachaelseda
rachaelseda

Awww this made me take a deep breath! I have been struggling myself with being less active online. This year has been a whirlwind and as much as I would love to spend more time on social I just can't dedicate the time I used to...it makes me feel guilty. I miss it and sometimes I also realize while I miss it, it's what I have to do right now. Thanks for sharing Gini!!

EricaAllison
EricaAllison

Gini, you and I are on similar tracks here (kinda sorta). I very noticeably scaled back months ago, to the tune of a blog post/month (more to come now that I have staff to jump on board) and very little activity tweeting. I stopped visiting and commenting on blogs almost a year ago, right when my business hit its first upward trajectory. Since then, we've hit two more and our 2013 is definitely going to be the best year ever - doubling last year's which was the best. 

I can't justify a lot of time online anymore. It doesn't make sense economically for me to do it and it actually hurts my business when I do - because it takes me off of the things that are most important. Even with more staff (we're up to 4, plus an intern now), I can't do it. Like you, it doesn't mean I don't enjoy the posts, the thoughts, and ideas; nor does it mean I'm not out there creeping. ;) I'm just focused on other things. Funny thing, my Klout score just increased as well and I can't tell you what I did differently other than take FB (personal) off my phone so I could no longer post or check it maniacally throughout the day. That's a whole 'nother blog post, Lucy!

At any rate, I think we should stop succumbing to a one-size fits most approach to marketing our business or spending time online, and just focus on what matters most to our business, ourselves, our clients and leave the rest at the keyboard steps. 

love, love, love you!! :) 

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

LOL Just saw this. 

People are bored with social media. people are busier now that more people are working. being social is networking which for many jobs doesn't equal working. My sister who answers phones for a yacht dealership spends a lot of work time on facebook....doing nothing to advance the company.

BUT I really think over saturation and boredom is the number one issue. People are not watching less TV in fact it is creeping up...but Facebook unique visitors is trending down again.

BTW I need some advertising advice Ms G. 8)

And for your case it is really simple......if you ration something the value goes up. If you tell someone they can book an event anytime...well no urgency. Tell them we only have 12 of 16 slots left. You will be booked immediately. So @ginidietrich has been rationing @ginidietrich thus increasing your value.

chelpixie
chelpixie

The economy is precisely why I got quiet. I needed to focus on business more than ever and it pulled me back into my shell until I could get out of the rough spot. Now I'm getting into the habit of being more social again but that'll change again soon. 

It's a mad, mad world of priorities.

Latest blog post: Boston, I love you.

littlegiantprod
littlegiantprod

More power to your success.  You're just proof that a PR entrepreneur can make it.  

JoeCardillo
JoeCardillo

Well I definitely agree with you about changing over time, it's right and important to shift your priorities. 

Every interaction, every post, every comment, it's all information that gives context to your relationships. IMHO you could still have gotten where you are now with less is more but it would have taken longer if you weren't willing to put in the time. 

Now you've got all of these great relationships with people who know you care immensely about the whole endeavor, and you can let that flourish without pushing the growth so much. In other words, it's time for you to focus on other things, and that's right and good. 

BilalJaffery
BilalJaffery

Great points, a similar dilemma I've faced in my career as a enterprise digital strategist for IBM, Bell and now Enterasys. As a leader and as an executive, My job is to make our business align with digital and social. Not boast about myself and fluff my own ego and brand. With that being said, one has to be proficient in the ever changing role of the digital (notice I didn't social) medium and understand it well enough to drive business (not likes, follows (although, I don't mind) books and conferences) out of it.  So, it still has to exist but has to be strategic. 

I balance most of my 'social networking' at night, Thank you for being frank and honest. I look forward to your interview. 

TaraGeissinger
TaraGeissinger

As someone who has never been able to keep up with the "be everywhere" mentality, I'm very pleased to hear scaling back is okay -- and maybe even healthy for business. I am sure it leads to content and interactions that are more genuine, complex and worthy of reading. :) Kudos to you Gini for speaking truth. It's so frustrating to read blog after blog praising the virtues of blogging daily and updating social media at an alarming pace. I can't keep up! LOL

Roxie Mooney
Roxie Mooney

I think you touched on a dilemma that most marketers, business owners, leaders, and really  people in general struggle with. Time is such a precious commodity; we have to be so intentional. Our choices of limiting online engagement don't mean we're arrogant, it can mean we're focused. Thanks for your transparency and I'm looking forward to the interview.

Rodriguez247
Rodriguez247

I like it when people are frank and put it all out it for us to learn from. For the record, what sold me on your book was the chemistry that I saw between you and Geoff as writers and the passion that you guys had towards the subject matter. If you did a video of that and posted it, I'm sure people would realize how helpful your book really is. 

RebeccaTodd
RebeccaTodd

I look forward to the interview! Of course, your habits will grow and change along with your business. But more than that, I see your new approach as focused, laser focused. And that is a good thing. 

biggreenpen
biggreenpen

I am really looking forward to reading the interview. It is so very easy to dilute our focus so much that we .... are "everywhere" but "nowhere." I suspect in your case the outcome (at least short term) will be that these changes have helped you focus (and, as you said, grow your team). I started blogging weekly about three years ago and ended up enchanted by a few other things (linkups, wordless Wednesday) that before I knew it I was blogging three times a week (on top of the day job, the family, etc. etc.). I had to take a break from that recently because I was doing a freelance project and now I think I may stay with weekly only. I'll never get to the book I want to write if I don't carve out time somewhere, and those two posts per week may be the tiny shaft of light I need to chase.

jonmikelbailey
jonmikelbailey

I've taken a slightly different approach. I've decided only to engage when I am wearing khakis. 

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@proghostblogger Why don't you open the front door and let it run out?! (Just kidding - I though the back door sentence was funny!) The problem with me is I LOVE to write (I wrote a blog post yesterday, but because I've scaled back here, it won't run until late next week) so it is kind of painful for me to scale back.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@EricaAllison How do you tell clients they should participate online when your own business hasn't seen the value? Our clients would laugh us out of their offices. We actually have seen the opposite (and this 90 day test we're doing is going to see if that's true)...the less we participate, the less our business grows.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@TaraGeissinger I can't imagine why. It's not like you have triplets or anything. NO ONE can keep up. I will always blog and I will always write - because I HAVE to for me - and I will never give up on community building and social media. I've just found I'm scaling it back a bit to focus on new initiatives that help us round out our expertise.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@ginidietrich @Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes

For once I think Wilner is on to something. I still support six blogs but I don't post or comment with the same frequency as I used to.

But we always have to look at our goals and what sort of foundation we have established. Once you reach a certain point you have enough momentum to not have to be as prolific as you once were.

Doesn't mean you can disappear, but you can adjust your routine and not experience the same drop off as someone who doesn't have the same foundation of support.

Latest blog post: There Is A Rhythm To Writing

biggreenpen
biggreenpen

@ginidietrich @biggreenpen That's a thought! My goal book is a non fiction thing (it's about a World War II training camp). I think I need to break it down (and it may start out as blog posts). One soldier, one vehicle, one "something" at a time. I am allowing the enormity of it to intimidate me! Time for that to stop!

JoeCardillo
JoeCardillo

@ginidietrich @JoeCardillo Oh I still read 8 million things a month, I only pay serious attention to a few. That startup article, yeah that's gold. Got another interesting thing I will send you in a moment too. 

JoeCardillo
JoeCardillo

@ginidietrich I should say, too, that I have plenty of thoughts on this question. Just really busy. The gist of it is that I think being conscious of your thought patterns and quality is really important. 

I am not a huge interactor on line, but when I choose to engage people get 100% of my attention and think-y thoughts. As a result I get to intake and (I hope) output really useful stuff. I'd rather read one mind blowing thing in a month than 50 pretty good ones. 

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