I recently 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. I’ve reduced a lot of my online activities, and it’s been 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 No. 3 PR blog in the world by Cision, and I was named the No. 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.
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 at their event. Our revenue has increased, and 2013 will be our best year yet.
I don’t say all this to brag. I say it because, for four years, I painstakingly chose every one of my Twitter followers and engaged them in conversation. I read—and commented on—more than 30 blogs every day. I “liked” and engaged with Facebook fan pages to bolster the Arment Dietrich page. I wrote on my blog seven times every week.
Then I slowly began to move away from it all. Not completely, but I wasn’t doing it as obsessively, either. And then all that great 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 (OK, 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 is 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 in-person visits, but it’s my job to expand the organization to give my team members 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 has to say about the topics we discuss.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t pay the bills.
I 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, and I’ll help you promote your content by linking to it, and sometimes you give me great fodder for my own tweet stream.
Yes, I have chosen to do this. It’s been deliberate. In some cases, it’s been a test; in others, it’s been simply a restructuring of my time.
To understand the real catalyst to it all, you’ll have to read Frank’s interview with me (to run sometime in the next couple of weeks), but I will say this: Priorities change. People change. Organizations change. It’s OK to change how you participate online. It certainly won’t be the first time you do it, nor the last.