Social Media Strategy, Social Media Tools, Facebook, Personal Branding, Social Media Marketing

5 Steps to Setting Social Media Limits

social media limits 300x180 5 Steps to Setting Social Media LimitsFeeling overwhelmed by social media and social networks? Does it occasionally seem that all this connectivity comes at the expense of your free time? Struggling to decide whether to follow back or friend up that guy you met at the local Chamber of Commerce event whom you don’t really know, but might be a useful contact some day?

Maybe it’s time to set some social media limits.

Unless you’re a professional athlete, or just happen to be the guy from my high school whose entire life revolved around the french horn, you probably have a multitude of interests. Finding other people with similar interests and connecting with them is the whole point of social media. I’m not suggesting that you only friend/follow people you actually know in “the real world”. That’s just an electronic version of your current address book. What’s the point?

But, to avoid driving yourself crazy with Facebook and Twitter and Linkedin and Ning and Myspace and Flickr and Slideshare and YouTube and whatever-else-you’re-into-Tube invites and distractions, here’s my recommendation for creating some order amidst chaos. (incidentally, “order amidst chaos” was the runner-up for the name of this company. Convince & Convert won based on concerns about people misspelling chaos).

1. List Your Passions

This may sound ridiculous, and it certainly is Amish-level old school, but it absolutely works. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and write down all the things in the world that you are interested in and about which you can contribute. The second part of that equation is key. I’m moderately interested in learning how to make balloon animals, but I have literally nothing of value to add to the balloon animal community. Remember, one of the 5 ways to be a social networking smash is to be helpful.

2. Get Selective

Look at your piece of paper. If there are ten or fewer areas of interest written there, you’re all set. Move to step 3. If you have more than 10, narrow down to the 10 that are most vital to you. How do you narrow? Imagine yourself sending tweets at 2am about that subject. Does the thought of doing so make you frustrated, or excited? If it’s the former, cross it off.

In the interest of transparency (or translucency, the term Beth Harte coined that I prefer), here are my 10 in no particular order: Flagstaff, Greater Phoenix, Food/Wine, Social Media, Email, PR, Fantasy Football, Jeep, Travel/Home Exchange, Indie Rock.

3. Assess Your Peeps

I find the best way to do this is with Facebook friends, but you may find better results using Twitter followers or some other collection of connections. Look through your current contacts and put a hash mark next to whichever of your 10 interests each friend shares. This doesn’t have to be a massive spreadsheet or anything, but taking the time to look at your current contacts and examine WHY they are connected to you will help create social media limits.

4. Create Your Spheres

Take your piece of paper and pen and draw circles for each of your 10 interests. If the interests (or the communities around the those interests) intersect, create intersecting circles. The idea is to find 5 or 6 interests that you love, but that also are related enough so that you can introduce people from one community to people in another community.

This is the digital equivalent of having a dinner party, and inviting groups of friends that you love for different reasons, many of whom don’t know one another. Making those introductions – those connections – is what being a good host and community member is all about. The best way to narrow your list of 10 interests to 5 or 6 is to better understand how you can tie your communities together.

Here’s how my final spheres look:
social media spheres jason baer 300x288 5 Steps to Setting Social Media Limits
Flagstaff and Phoenix interesect a lot because a lot of people I know spend time in both places (like me). I’m interested in food and wine in Phoenix, but more so in Flagstaff, because that’s where I review restaurants.

Social media and PR are of course related communities, and because I used to work in those industries in Phoenix, those communities overlap a bit.

The outlier here is music. I’m a big indie rock guy and have been for 20+ years. But, I’m finding that I spend less time in that community than I used to, and examining my spheres, I can see why. There’s little time efficiency or connectivity potential. If I had to cut out an interest to make more time for the rest, that would be the one I’d throw overboard.

5. Use Your Filter

Presto! By identifying your spheres, you’ve created natural social media boundaries. Now, use those boundaries as a filter for future connections. If somebody wants to connect with me and they are a member of one my six spheres, chances are I’ll friend/follow them back. If they aren’t a member of one of those six, I probably won’t connect – although balloon animal professionals are always welcome.

What are your spheres? Will you list them in the comments?

(photo by laffy4k)

Related
  • http://thelostjacket.com/ Stuart Foster

    I’ve found the use of a filter to be key. If you just go out and blast your message from a variety of different fronts…you aren’t being useful to anyone (and are likely pissing people off). I’ve had to adapt usages between facebook and twitter. Facebook for personal/deeper business connections and Twitter for a pure communications platform. So far it’s been a good balance.

    Stuart Foster’s last blog post..Social Media is to PR as Dalton is to “Roadhouse”

  • http://thelostjacket.com/ Stuart Foster

    I’ve found the use of a filter to be key. If you just go out and blast your message from a variety of different fronts…you aren’t being useful to anyone (and are likely pissing people off). I’ve had to adapt usages between facebook and twitter. Facebook for personal/deeper business connections and Twitter for a pure communications platform. So far it’s been a good balance.

    Stuart Foster’s last blog post..Social Media is to PR as Dalton is to “Roadhouse”

  • http://thelostjacket.com Stuart Foster

    I’ve found the use of a filter to be key. If you just go out and blast your message from a variety of different fronts…you aren’t being useful to anyone (and are likely pissing people off). I’ve had to adapt usages between facebook and twitter. Facebook for personal/deeper business connections and Twitter for a pure communications platform. So far it’s been a good balance.

    Stuart Foster’s last blog post..Social Media is to PR as Dalton is to “Roadhouse”

  • http://wordpressseo.franklinbishop.net/ Wordpress SEO

    Listing your passions are always the easiest. Sometimes people forget about their passions and just worry about making friends which can be bad because those people might not be interested in anything you are.

    WordPress SEO’s last blog post..

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      Indeed. The notion of “I’m going to follow people with a lot of followers/friends in the hope that they’ll follow me back so I can get even more followers” is so fraught with logic holes that it’s not even seaworthy. As Chris Brogan put it perfectly in a tweet: “What are you going to do with all those new followers you think you want?”

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      Indeed. The notion of “I’m going to follow people with a lot of followers/friends in the hope that they’ll follow me back so I can get even more followers” is so fraught with logic holes that it’s not even seaworthy. As Chris Brogan put it perfectly in a tweet: “What are you going to do with all those new followers you think you want?”

  • http://wordpressseo.franklinbishop.net/ Wordpress SEO

    Listing your passions are always the easiest. Sometimes people forget about their passions and just worry about making friends which can be bad because those people might not be interested in anything you are.

    WordPress SEO’s last blog post..

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      Indeed. The notion of “I’m going to follow people with a lot of followers/friends in the hope that they’ll follow me back so I can get even more followers” is so fraught with logic holes that it’s not even seaworthy. As Chris Brogan put it perfectly in a tweet: “What are you going to do with all those new followers you think you want?”

  • http://ariwriter.com/ Ari Herzog

    Heehee.

    …taking the time to look at your current contacts and examine WHY they are connected to you will help create social media limits.

    Same goes for Twitter. Too many people treat those they follow as shrines. I guarantee if you take some time and look through those you follow you may question why you’re following him/her/it. If a doubt and/or you don’t remember replying/retweeting that person in x period of time, unfollow.

    Ari Herzog’s last blog post..How Newspaper Mission Statements Could Change

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      No question. There are definitely people I’m following on Twitter that aren’t providing a ton of value. Theoretically, I should unfollow. But, in almost every case, following them doesn’t cause me a lot of problems. Once you make that leap from a small group of people you really want to track to a larger group of people that fit into your spheres, your use of Twitter inexorably changes. At that stage, it’s not “the more the merrier” (at least for me), but I err on the side of inclusion – or try to.

    • Salena Mikos

      Ari,

      Why is not replying or retweeting your basis for unfollowing people?

      Do you not have anyone that you follow just because you’re interested in their tweets and recommendations, yet think your friends/”followers” may not be?

      Just curious.

      • http://ariwriter.com/ Ari Herzog

        My Twitter dogma continually changes, Salena, but where it currently stands, I don’t grasp the point of following someone if there’s no interest. If I’m not replying to the person or retweeting the person (or using those tweets in some other fashion), then why follow?

        Ari Herzog’s last blog post..Explain Marketing Functions with Silverware

      • http://ariwriter.com/ Ari Herzog

        My Twitter dogma continually changes, Salena, but where it currently stands, I don’t grasp the point of following someone if there’s no interest. If I’m not replying to the person or retweeting the person (or using those tweets in some other fashion), then why follow?

        Ari Herzog’s last blog post..Explain Marketing Functions with Silverware

  • http://ariwriter.com Ari Herzog

    Heehee.

    …taking the time to look at your current contacts and examine WHY they are connected to you will help create social media limits.

    Same goes for Twitter. Too many people treat those they follow as shrines. I guarantee if you take some time and look through those you follow you may question why you’re following him/her/it. If a doubt and/or you don’t remember replying/retweeting that person in x period of time, unfollow.

    Ari Herzog’s last blog post..How Newspaper Mission Statements Could Change

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      No question. There are definitely people I’m following on Twitter that aren’t providing a ton of value. Theoretically, I should unfollow. But, in almost every case, following them doesn’t cause me a lot of problems. Once you make that leap from a small group of people you really want to track to a larger group of people that fit into your spheres, your use of Twitter inexorably changes. At that stage, it’s not “the more the merrier” (at least for me), but I err on the side of inclusion – or try to.

    • http://YourWebsite Salena Mikos

      Ari,

      Why is not replying or retweeting your basis for unfollowing people?

      Do you not have anyone that you follow just because you’re interested in their tweets and recommendations, yet think your friends/”followers” may not be?

      Just curious.

      • http://ariwriter.com Ari Herzog

        My Twitter dogma continually changes, Salena, but where it currently stands, I don’t grasp the point of following someone if there’s no interest. If I’m not replying to the person or retweeting the person (or using those tweets in some other fashion), then why follow?

        Ari Herzog’s last blog post..Explain Marketing Functions with Silverware

  • http://lgbusinesssolutions.typepad.com/solutions_to_grow_your_bu/ Lewis Green

    Good recommendations. My limits are set by time: No more than 30 mins a week on Twitter; 3 – 5 hours a week writing and responding on my posts; 30 mins a week commenting on others posts; and 30 minutes a week on social networking. Works for me.

    Lewis Green’s last blog post..It isn’t Just Business: Feelings Matter

  • http://lgbusinesssolutions.typepad.com/solutions_to_grow_your_bu/ Lewis Green

    Good recommendations. My limits are set by time: No more than 30 mins a week on Twitter; 3 – 5 hours a week writing and responding on my posts; 30 mins a week commenting on others posts; and 30 minutes a week on social networking. Works for me.

    Lewis Green’s last blog post..It isn’t Just Business: Feelings Matter

  • Salena Mikos

    Hi Jason,

    I like the post. Interesting view on the follow/unfollow question. I also err on the side of inclusion, because I don’t see the point in unfollowing someone unless our interests turn out to be widely varying, or they appear to be following me for no reason I can understand. I’m more likely to just turn off my mobile updates from those individuals.

    My “boiled down” spheres are: books; social media marketing; marketing in general; SEO; website launching; upkeep and tips; food and recipes; exercise.

  • http://YourWebsite Salena Mikos

    Hi Jason,

    I like the post. Interesting view on the follow/unfollow question. I also err on the side of inclusion, because I don’t see the point in unfollowing someone unless our interests turn out to be widely varying, or they appear to be following me for no reason I can understand. I’m more likely to just turn off my mobile updates from those individuals.

    My “boiled down” spheres are: books; social media marketing; marketing in general; SEO; website launching; upkeep and tips; food and recipes; exercise.

  • kjo1969

    Great post – and you were right to not go with “order amidst chaos.” 1.) “4th grade reading level” 2.) aside from “chaos” misspellings … “amidst” may have introduced a whole new set of problems. Possibilities could include something like this, “www.orderamistkaos.com”

  • kjo1969

    Great post – and you were right to not go with “order amidst chaos.” 1.) “4th grade reading level” 2.) aside from “chaos” misspellings … “amidst” may have introduced a whole new set of problems. Possibilities could include something like this, “www.orderamistkaos.com”

  • http://YourWebsite kjo1969

    Great post – and you were right to not go with “order amidst chaos.” 1.) “4th grade reading level” 2.) aside from “chaos” misspellings … “amidst” may have introduced a whole new set of problems. Possibilities could include something like this, “www.orderamistkaos.com”

  • http://www.razpr.com/ Karen Raz

    Great post, very helpful for those of us just getting in touch with our inner Twitterer. Now if I could only connect all of my spheres: Visual effects, digital production, design, PR, gardening/composting, cooking/LA restaurants, music, home/green remodeling and working mommyhood!

  • http://www.razpr.com/ Karen Raz

    Great post, very helpful for those of us just getting in touch with our inner Twitterer. Now if I could only connect all of my spheres: Visual effects, digital production, design, PR, gardening/composting, cooking/LA restaurants, music, home/green remodeling and working mommyhood!

  • http://www.razpr.com Karen Raz

    Great post, very helpful for those of us just getting in touch with our inner Twitterer. Now if I could only connect all of my spheres: Visual effects, digital production, design, PR, gardening/composting, cooking/LA restaurants, music, home/green remodeling and working mommyhood!

  • http://twitter.com/korykredit/status/1941039474 Kory Kredit

    How do you filter the people you follow on Twitter? Good blog post from @jaybaer: http://bit.ly/4Ss3L

  • http://rockthedesert.typepad.com/ Marina

    Thanks for this post. I’ve been trying to figure this out all along but somewhere lost track of the circles!

  • http://rockthedesert.typepad.com Marina

    Thanks for this post. I’ve been trying to figure this out all along but somewhere lost track of the circles!

  • http://www.mindingyourmatters.com/ Janice

    As a professional organizer who often works with clients on time management, I say “amen” to this post!

  • http://www.mindingyourmatters.com/ Janice

    As a professional organizer who often works with clients on time management, I say “amen” to this post!

  • http://www.mindingyourmatters.com Janice

    As a professional organizer who often works with clients on time management, I say “amen” to this post!

  • http://twitter.com/NEENZ/status/ L.P. NEENZ FALEAFINE

    RT @guykawasaki: Via http://trkk.us/t/?50837 5 steps to setting social media limits: http://trkk.us/t/?50838

  • http://twitter.com/tkpleslie/status/ Leslie Carothers

    RT @neemz RT @guykawasaki to @jaybaer’s great blog post on 5 Steps to Setting Social Media Limits http://bit.ly/MBVtP

  • http://twitter.com/michellelii/status/1970303274 Michelle Marie

    RT @GuyKawaski 5 Steps to Setting Social Media Limits | Social Media Marketing | Social Media Consulting – Convince & .. http://bit.ly/MBVtP

  • http://twitter.com/michellelii/status/1970309591 Michelle Marie

    RT @GuyKawasaki 5 Steps to Setting Social Media Limits | Social Media Marketing | Social Media Consulting – Convince & . http://bit.ly/MBVtP

  • http://twitter.com/glennvogelsang/status/2032088275 Glenn Vogelsang

    http://ping.fm/o5aGH Pretty straightforward, but good approach

  • http://www.offmadisonave.com/ William Smith

    I’ve been wanting to try this ever since you wrote this post but hadn’t gotten around to it.

    I finally did, but i have so many random interests that beyond my “work” interests (marketing, facebook, the internet, etc) there aren’t too many that intersect.

    The items that made my sphere are:

    Cooking
    Iced Tea
    Apple
    Marketing
    Internet
    Facebook

    The others are all interests but not things i could consider myself an expert in – things like, software design, seattle WA, obama, etc.

    Ironically, the people i tend to unfollow are the ones with which my interest aligns – internet marketers. I guess i hear so much about it all the time i get tired of reading it on Twitter!

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      I love the fact that you’re in the iced tea sphere. That’s fantastic!

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      I love the fact that you’re in the iced tea sphere. That’s fantastic!

  • http://www.offmadisonave.com/ William Smith

    I’ve been wanting to try this ever since you wrote this post but hadn’t gotten around to it.

    I finally did, but i have so many random interests that beyond my “work” interests (marketing, facebook, the internet, etc) there aren’t too many that intersect.

    The items that made my sphere are:

    Cooking
    Iced Tea
    Apple
    Marketing
    Internet
    Facebook

    The others are all interests but not things i could consider myself an expert in – things like, software design, seattle WA, obama, etc.

    Ironically, the people i tend to unfollow are the ones with which my interest aligns – internet marketers. I guess i hear so much about it all the time i get tired of reading it on Twitter!

  • http://www.offmadisonave.com William Smith

    I’ve been wanting to try this ever since you wrote this post but hadn’t gotten around to it.

    I finally did, but i have so many random interests that beyond my “work” interests (marketing, facebook, the internet, etc) there aren’t too many that intersect.

    The items that made my sphere are:

    Cooking
    Iced Tea
    Apple
    Marketing
    Internet
    Facebook

    The others are all interests but not things i could consider myself an expert in – things like, software design, seattle WA, obama, etc.

    Ironically, the people i tend to unfollow are the ones with which my interest aligns – internet marketers. I guess i hear so much about it all the time i get tired of reading it on Twitter!

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      I love the fact that you’re in the iced tea sphere. That’s fantastic!

  • http://twitter.com/ribeezie/status/2184689547 Ricardo Bueno

    Great Post! 5 Tips to Setting Social Media Limits http://bit.ly/zRe4g

  • http://twitter.com/smiler29/status/2344106449 Mark Riley

    RT @tweetmeme 5 Steps to Setting Social Media Limits | Social Media Marketing | Social Media Consulting – Convince & … http://bit.ly/MBVtP

  • http://twitter.com/spwarnke/status/2615878289 Steve Warnke

    Interesting take and how-to on setting Social Media limits. http://bit.ly/NGjyg

  • http://twitter.com/makethemfans/status/5686600704 Lamar Johnson

    RT @jaybaer 5 Steps to Setting Social Media Limits | Social Media Marketing | Social Media Consulting – Convince & Co… http://bit.ly/MBVtP

  • http://twitter.com/camerontoth/status/6424172821 Cameron Toth

    5 Steps to Setting Social Media Limits | #socialmedia http://ow.ly/Jr2d

  • http://twitter.com/tinymalone/status/6424790508 Tiny Malone

    RT @CameronToth: 5 Steps to Setting Social Media Limits | #socialmedia http://ow.ly/Jr2d

  • http://twitter.com/camerontoth/status/6457391951 Cameron Toth

    5 Steps to Setting Social Media Limits | #socialmedia http://ow.ly/JL66

  • http://twitter.com/camerontoth/status/6503909928 Cameron Toth

    5 Steps to Setting Social Media Limits | #socialmedia http://ow.ly/Kkn2 #eventprofs

  • http://twitter.com/lmalcorps/status/8539041759 Luc Malcorps

    Being a bit sick: "time out" to set things in perspective and define Social Media Limits – http://bit.ly/aVLUlz (via @jaybaer)

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