Chris Brogan, yet again, beat me to it. I’ve been trying to get this post finished for a couple of days now and in my procrastination Chris comes up with a better worded, more provoking post than my draft.

BOOOO HISSS

After all Chris has been at this longer than me so it’s probably to be expected. His post this morning “How Many Chores Does It All Add?” put into perspective the sheer amount of work swimming in the SM world takes.

“In the morning, I open up Google Reader and start by checking out who’s talking about me, my company, PodCamp, and a few other choice terms. I read a few blogs (around 700). I check on some other searches for clients that I’ve loaded into my reader.”

Warning, hard work ahead

The one part of SM that has become blatantly obvious to me in the past year is the constant nature of keeping up with it all. Unfortunately the internet does not sleep and so the posts and their creators do not sleep either. It is the Matrix, a constant stream of stuff that may or not be relevant but needs to be weighed and judged.

This is why it’s best to spend time working out who you listen to, who you read and why. Your time is precious, especially if SM tasks are directly related to engaging the customer base of a company. Without a defined focus it’s easy to loose track and definition of the very thing you’re looking for.

Warning, tools ahead.

To help, I use certain tools to help me stay focused.

Tweetdeck – Organizes various Twitter groups into separate streams

Perpsctv – Gives a great overview of a search term’s penetration in blogs, Twitter and Google search.

Technorati – Blog search engine.

Google Trends – Tracks how search terms are trending.

Delicious – the great book-marker in the sky.

There are plenty more but I use these to keep ahead of what I’m looking for.

How I do it

First thing in the morning I check the Twitter feeds to see if anything interesting has popped up. I don’t read everything immediately, I open the link and move on to the next item. This will normally lead to having 10-15 links open which I will digest through the day.

I make sure that I subscribe to relevant blogs so that I am prompted when new posts appear. This saves me from making sure I check them. If anything interesting surfaces I then move on to a more in-depth search using Google, Techorati and Perspctv.

Delicious is my archive. I tag anything interesting I find in Delicious. The key is to have a predefined set of tag words so that a coherent pattern appears without similar links being marked with multiple tags. Basically the free wheeling dissemination of opinion and expertise that is SM actually requires organization and discipline to track it.

Think of it like the stock market

The closest analogy I have found between tracking using SM and anything else is following stocks. There are thousands of stocks to invest in. It takes time to find the ones you like and understand so you have some chance of knowing the underlying business model. It then takes time and discipline to research those stocks, their movements and how they react to other economic stimulus. The weight of data and opinion out there is staggering and it’s up to the investor to weigh and judge in order to formulate his premise for investment.

Any thoughts?

I’m, by nature, an organizer. I’m never happier than when I’ve constructed a workable, scalable, implementable procedure. Maybe my reaction to tracking SM is purely to do with me. How do you do it?

Chris Brogan, fast becoming a favorite read on the social media world, posted a thought today that I felt was worth weighing in on.

This is really where it’s at: Twitter isn’t just that site any more, it’s a communications method

Chris’ premise is that the real strength of Twitter is not as a tool but the method of communication it has introduced. For me Twitter has been a tool searching for a purpose for a while now. This is true for most current social media sites but Twitter has shown glimpses of how it could be used. The Hudson River plane crash and coverage of the G20 protesters all showed that Twitter can be used to inform and broadcast as well as converse and publish.

Twitter, the smart pager

As a marketer, Twitter is great for gauging a buzz and researching a topic. It’s great for building a relationship and reading other perspectives. It should be more. It can be more. It seems odd to me that the concept of the pager has been resurrected in Twitter. Twitter could easily install tools which allowed different streams of Tweets to be viewed and organized in one user acct. Each stream could serve a different purpose and allow one to many broadcasting or paging.

So, here’s a few random things that I’d like to see Twitter used for.

  • Bus arrival and wait times
  • Parking space availability
  • Emergency weather alerts
  • Tickets on sale for Elbow gigs

There are many more, I’m already getting cycling commentary and results from Europe. Chattanooga has a vibrant social media network which uses Twitter to broadcast, comment and organize.

Yeah I can find it, but I want it delivered

I realize that all of this information is available on the web already but I have to look for it. The Twitter concept of a one to many broadcaster delivers it to me in one place. It’s beginning, but my gut feeling is that Twitter hasn’t found it’s sweet spot yet. I can’t wait ’til it does.

Building relationships takes time, are you willing to put in the effort?

Chris Brogan had a great post today. That’s not a surprise, Chris has pretty good posts everyday. Today’s post was about “promoting-without being that guy“. The basic tenet of his post was that the most effective communication happens after relationship has been built.

After reading the post my nagging thought was, who has the time? Or, probably more accurately, whose boss will give them the time? Social media is all about the relationship which is fine because people buy from people but it takes the time to build the relationship.

Are our expectations skewed?

I think marketers approach business relationships with a different set of expectations than personal ones. The expectation with personal relationships is that they are long term, will take time to develop and require work and effort. The expectation of most business relationships is that they are short term and disposable.

Business is just not set up for nurturing long term growth.

Yeah I know everyone will say it is, but it isn’t. They will argue that focused short term growth leads to continued long term growth and it does but at what cost in finding new business? If you look at the most successful sales guys you know. I bet most of them have been in the same industry or geography for a long time. They have built the relationships that keep rewarding them.

My experience

I was a territory manager for over 3 years selling AV product for Techrep Marketing. When I started I didn’t know the dealer base, I had no relationship. I spent the first year getting to know my dealers and how they operated. I didn’t try to sell them anything. I made sure that they knew that they could depend on me to show up when I said I would, know the answer or get the answer and sort out their problems.

1 Year, 365 days, of not trying to sell them anything. The way in which Techrep is set up in terms of philosophy and leadership from the owners, compensation and autonomy allowed me the time to build the relationship. I know I would not have had that environment at other companies in my industry and I know my sales would not have increased as much as they did.

Most businesses do not have the patience

Most businesses, due to the myopic quarter by quarter time frames they operate under, do not have the patience or the leeway to allow a social media strategy to grow and evolve. Techrep did and I nearly tripled annual revenues in 3 years.

Social media is a vital and fundamental movement in helping businesses relate to consumers. Those looking to build a succesful relationship with their customers need to take the time to build it. Businesses looking for a quick fix will be sorely disappointed.