The Problem that is Social Guilt

by Marcus Sheridan

Social Guilt

As I sat with Stanford Smith of Pushing Social two weeks ago during Social Slam my mind was piqued as he made one very simple yet profound statement:

“We’ve got to stop with all this social guilt.”

I had never heard the phrase “social guilt” before, but boy did it make sense and perfectly encapsulate a HUGE problem happening all over the globe today—the “need” businesses have to be all things social media to everyone.

And when I say “all things social media,” what I’m referring to are those businesses and persons that are practically killing themselves to be active on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Google Plus, blogging, video, commenting, etc.

Now granted, I’m the first one that will say it’s nice for a business to try and embrace the potential of social media. But the reality is this quest of social media perfection is an impossible task, so much so that those that attempt it are often left defeated, deflated, and underwhelmed with the experience in general.

As a business changes, so do priorities

Early on with this blog I practically killed myself attempting to answer every comment, every tweet, and every email I received—along with finding the time to comment on other blogs and even talk to the occasional client (there weren’t many back then).

But today my habits have changed. Frankly, I don’t spend tons of time commenting on other blogs anymore. Is this because I don’t find value in the things others say? No, of course not, it just means I’m now in a different phase of business.

These days, I spend a lot more time worrying about my clients—you know, those wonderful people that pay my bills and allow me to be “social” in the first place.

Again, I want to stress here that there is importance to social media (and all things lead generation), but there are two points that I think every person and business must understand:

1. Profits always trump social ( In other words, if you need to choose between doing actual client work and getting paid, or jumping on twitter and doing at “chat,” you might want to consider the “getting paid” option.)

2. Priority always trumps social


So let’s talk about priorities for a second. Here is the deal—No person or business on earth is capable of being “the best” at all things social. You can’t be the greatest at Twitter, and Facebook, and blogging, and LinkedIn. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is, and if you can show me a company that’s “the greatest” with all of these, I’ll happily eat my words.

I was once chatting with Jay Baer and we were talking about blog comments. Jay said something that I really appreciated—“Getting blog comments is not a focus of my business model.”

Does this mean Jay doesn’t like blog comments? Does this mean he doesn’t appreciate blog comments? The answer, of course, is no. Notwithstanding, getting comments just aren’t a major part of his focus. And how can they be? With a consulting, speaking, and writing schedule like he has, I’m amazed he’s able to answer any comments at all.

Simply put, there is no reason why someone who is extremely busy and successful should feel any “social guilt” simply because he or she is unable to respond to every blog comment (or @ tweet, or FB comment, email, etc.)

I bring up this example because as an individual or business builds their online brand, priorities inevitably change. Time allotments change. And focus changes too.

And do you know what? This is a good thing. This means you’re finding your shtick, understanding what works, and getting closer to running the ideal business that best suits you, and not a business that fits the ideals of another.

So enough of the social guilt. Do your best and if you are, let go of the things you can’t be great at or that which doesn’t fit your priorities. Have a focus, an individual vision, and don’t allow the latest trends, platforms, and “best practices” to dictate that which you know to work best for YOU.

Your Turn:

I’ve got one simple question here that I’d love to know your answer on—What part of social media/blogging/etc. do you experience the most “social guilt” over? Why?

This is an interesting subject that I think we can ALL relate to, so I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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