So what do I mean by balance?
That really depends on your reasons for using social media and what your aims are with your blogging, tweeting, and ‘socialising’.
To my mind there are three types of social media users and the concept of balance will be different for each group.
- Business users. Many businesses and business owners, large and small, use many aspects of social media with one clear aim, which is to promote their product or service. This may be designed to sell on line direct to the customer or perhaps to raise the profile of the business on a national or global basis. For a small business providing a local service, for example a restaurant, they may use the medium of Twitter or Facebook to keep in touch with customers who actually frequent their premises. Whatever the reason it is usually very clear what the purpose of the activity is and the question of balance may not be at the forefront of the mind for the business or their readers/followers.
- Personal users. Writing your own blog for pleasure and connecting with others with similar interests, or maybe just sharing your passion without really caring if anyone reads your output is really common. Maybe you just want to connect with other people on Twitter of Facebook, perhaps your aim is to collect as many followers/friends as you can without any clear reason for wanting to do so (and what’s the point in that?). Personal users of this type have no desire to earn any income form their activity, they just do what they do for the love of it so again the question of balance doesn’t generally arise.
- The rest of us! I find myself in this group, let me explain why. I started to blog for pleasure but always with the thought at the back of my mind that I might just be able to earn a small income from my activity at some time in the future. I opened accounts with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, FriendFeed and Quora as it felt like the right thing to do at the time. I set up a Facebook page for the blog and joined Networked Blogs, all well and good but this is where the question of balance comes in for me and for people like me.
I really enjoy running the blog, it gives me enormous pleasure and more satisfaction than I could ever have imagined but there is definitely a balance to be struck as the blog grows. The question I am asking myself all the time is how to maintain the integrity of the blog and my related social media activity while at the same time adding features to generate income. Let me break that down further.
- The Blog. There seem to be many ways to generate income from running a blog and I don’t intend to list them all here but what I would say that treading the thin line between personal and business is really hard. Many of us will have been down the same route by adding a few Adsense ads to dip your toe in the water, followed maybe by an Amazon affiliate link, maybe adding a few more affiliate ads and links just to see if they work. I am guilty of all of that and of course I have come to the inevitable conclusion that it’s not that easy. The big problem is keeping the look of the blog right, how many ads is too many? We all know of blogs which are drowned by adverts and pop ups, personally I tend to avoid them so I have to be really aware of what I am doing and the effect it might have on my readers. My own philosophy is to stay on the personal side of the line until I can find the right blend. If I never make any money so be it, I still get a buzz out of it.
- Sharing. It’s not only the ads that clutter a blog, it can also be the share and subscribe options that you offer to your readers. So many options, so many plug ins. Where to put them – Top? Bottom? Side? Floating? What to add – Twitter? Facebook Like? Facebook Share? Digg? Stumble? Delicious? What works and what doesn’t? I have tried all sorts and it’s only after looking at many other blogs and reading, reading, reading that I have settled on the present set up, does it work? I guess my readers will be the judge of that.
- Subscribers. I keep reading that e-mail subscribers are the key but this where I find the balance quite difficult. I like having e-mail subscribers and Feed subscribers, they are good people who have made some kind of commitment to me and who have my posts delivered to them, I love them for that. But do I want to abuse that relationship by sending them newsletters with ads in? Is it abusing that relationship or am I being too sensitive, come on you lovely subscribers let me know, put me out of my misery so I can move on
- Twitter. I love Twitter but it’s my use of Twitter that has led me to reflect on the way I use social media and to write this post. I feel that I am getting away from the way I initially used Twitter to connect and to ‘meet’ new people. It’s not that I am becoming too ‘spammy’ with my Tweets, I really work hard to avoid that, but I feel that I am not giving as much attention to the people I connect with as I used to. I no longer seem to see my early friends as much as I used to, am I neglecting them? Have I drifted away from them and if so why, is it something I am doing or is it just the nature of the beast? Having reflected I think it is me, I need to use those darn Twitter lists better and start talking to people again. The balance feels wrong, quality not quantity, that will be my watchword! Is this something you have found happening and if so what did you do about it?
- Facebook. I am really not sure about Facebook, I can see the way it works on a personal basis but for promoting the blog, I don’t know. I have a page for the blog and have connected it to Networked Blogs so all my posts appear automatically on both places. But I am reluctant to do any more than that on Facebook, I never share on my personal page as it feels that I am spamming my friends. I am comfortable with that but do you think I am missing a trick? Have I got that balance right?
- StumbleUpon. I like Stumbleupon but I know I have got the balance wrong there, I am in the habit of adding my own posts but seldom other peoples. How fair is that and what does my Stumbleupon page look like to visitors? Work to do there.
- Quora. I don’t feel that I have got any balance on Quora, I have registered, I am following lots of people and have got lots of followers, I have even asked and answered some questions. But I still don’t feel that I know why I am there, how to use it, how to enjoy it? I need to find that balance, any suggestions?
So having looked at myself and what I am doing with my social media activity I have to conclude that I haven’t got the balance right and that I have work to do. There is no doubt in my mind that achieving that balance is vital to succeed but that it’s an ever moving target that just can’t be ignored.
Please let me know what you think, do you have social media balance and if so how did you achieve it. If you don’t, what action do you need to take to get ‘balanced?
Tony Hastings is the man behind the Top 10 Blog, a place where you will find regular Top Twitter People lists, amazing guest articles on all sorts of topics, some of his own writings about his social media journey, fun interviews, and more.