The Time Suck that is Learning About Blogging and Social Media

by Marcus Sheridan

I received an email last week that truly made me raise an eyebrow, as it in many ways was perfectly representative of why so many businesses, entrepreneurs, and marketers are failing to experience success with this thing we call “social media.” It went like this:

Hi Marcus,

I’m currently learning everything I can about social media marketing and trying to internalize it….

I just wanted to know where you think I should start. Here’s what my plan is right now:

1. Read the top 10 books on social media marketing
2. Meet at least 5 people in the industry
3. Learn at least 5 tools that I could use to help small to mid-size businesses market.

Lisa (name changed)

Now, let me ask you a question: What’s wrong with these statements?

C’mon, think about it before we move forward…What answer would you have written had you received this email?

In an effort to explain my thoughts, I’ll break down each:

1. Read the top 10 books on Social Media Marketing

I have a little secret to tell you: I haven’t read 10 books on social media marketing in the 30 months since I got into all this stuff. Yeah, sure I’ve read many blog posts by others, but I haven’t spent tons of time simply reading books. Heck, I’m not even sure if I’ve read 5.

My reason for this is simple—Books will never compare to the teaching power of actually going out and doing something.

For example, which one of these two people has more experience?:

A: The person who has read 10 books on blogging but has no blog

B: The person that finished half a book on blogging and just went ahead and launched, and is now on his 50th blog post

I don’t know about you, but I’d choose person B any day of the week. Sure, person A is well read, but he hasn’t really applied a single thing he has learned, thus his efforts up to this point have essentially been in vain.

2. Meet at Least 5 People in the Industry

Is “meeting people” important for success in most industries? Yes, it certainly is, but it’s not hard to “meet” someone. In fact, that’s very easy. But never forget there is a very, very big difference between “meeting” someone and actually building a relationship with that person.

And how do we build relationships? Simple—We serve others. We share their stuff. We look for ways to assist them with their goals. We promote and openly discuss their work. The examples go on and on.

But again, just “meeting” someone is much like the act of reading a book without going out and applying its teachings—the experience will likely be short-lived.

Remember—Forming one truly strong relationship with a single person online will likely lead to way more results than “meeting” 10 others in your field.

3. Learn 5 Tools To Use

Ahh yes, the need to learn more “tools.” Today it’s Twitter. Tomorrow it’s Pinterest. The next day it will be Facebook II (the public version).

The new tools coming out day in and day out are practically impossible to keep up with, especially for the average Joe business owner.

But our need to always know and understand the “latest and greatest” is grossly overestimated in my opinion. As we bounce around trying to learn one tool and then moving to the next, we never truly become great in at least one area.

As I’ve stated many times here on TSL, instead of being a “Jack of all Social Media Trades,” it’s much better to be a “Master of One.”

So if blogging and content marketing are likely you’re best focus area, then get after it. Quit reading about blogging and publish your first post.

If Twitter seems to be the best choice, then take that little birdy and run with it. Listen. Share. Tweet. Listen. Share. Tweet….

But whatever you decide to do, do it well. Become great with it. Stop embracing average.

Consumers Vs. Doers

The bottom line is this my friends: Many of us are becoming that student who stays in college for 10 years simply because he or she is too afraid to go out in the real world and get a job.

Reading, consuming, and superficial learning are all fine and dandy (and certainly necessary), but as I mentioned earlier, they’ll never be a substitute for true experience, where everyday success and failure is the name of the game.

So that’s my challenge to you. Stop looking for answers. Stop reading so much. Stop looking for more advice.

Deep-down, you already know what you need to do.

Create.

Apply.

Write.

Become a person of action.

And launch that baby.

Your Turn:

I’ve got a simple question I’d love to hear from you all today: What are you looking to create in 2012? Also, what platform is going to be your main focus? Will it be blogging? Facebook? LinkedIn?

Jump in folks, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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