Why The Social Web Is Like Falling in Love

“I don’t have enough time!”

Those five words are uttered over and over by small business owners, entrepreneurs (and, believe it or not, big, scary brands) when it comes to maximizing this new world of online marketing and brand building.

Variations include:

“I don’t have time to create really interesting content.”

“I don’t have time to visit blogs and forums and become a part of the conversation.”

“I don’t have time to reply to my followers on Twitter.”

What is interesting about this complaint is the word time used to be replaced by “money.”

Pre-social Web days? Buy some ads. It took money, but far less time. Hire some awesome creatives and watch the magic happen. However, this was never really a (good) option for small business owners.

The problem is many businesses have taken this “pre-social Web” approach to the social Web–and it just doesn’t work. What I mean is hiring an agency to tweet on your behalf or come up with “campaigns” (some agencies are doing it right and spending their effort advising clients, as opposed to doing it for them).

There is no beating around the digital bush. If you want to build a brand online (or bring a brand online) for the long run, it takes a lot of time, effort, drive, creativity, passion and patience (along with personality and caring).

Here is the good news, though: The social Web offers a huge advantage for hustling entrepreneurs as opposed to big brands. Everyone has a shot at building a community and/or becoming a trusted resource online….as well as having a thriving business (what could be better?)

The social Web is similar to the dating world. I’m sure you have heard stories (or experienced them yourself) of the guy (or girl) who casually dates but tells their date that right now they “don’t have time for a relationship.” When probed, it is easy to come up with excuses:

“I’m really focused on my business.”

“I travel a lot.”

“I like to spend my time naked watching Pokemon.” (awkward)

But suddenly, this person meets the right guy or girl and is head over heels in love! Suddenly, he or she does have time for a relationship and is married a year or two later.

Whoa! Where did that time come from? Did it just magically appear out of nowhere?

Or maybe it’s this simple:

We make time for things we care about.

We make time for things that are valuable.

We make time for things when we want to make time for them.

My suggestion?

Simple: Make the time. View brand building in the social Web era as a long-term relationship. You have to put the effort in, knowing that the fruits of your labor are down the line (not today, not tomorrow, but later).

Take the time to strike up new relationships.

Take the time to create interesting content, whether it be text, video or audio (or a combo!)

Take the time to interact and make small talk with people.

Take the time to answer your e-mail.

Take the time to reply to your messages.

Once you start seeing the value of the social Web, it will be hard to remember where all that time was going in the first place.


David Garland David Siteman Garland is the Founder of The Rise To The Top. The #1 Non-Boring Resource For Building Your Business Smarter, Faster, Cheaper. He hosts RISE, a web show for entrepreneurs featuring unique interviews and advice, and The Rise To The Top TV show on ABC. He is the author of Smarter, Faster, Cheaper: Non-boring, Fluff-free Strategies for Marketing and Promoting Your Business.

13 Reactions
  1. Always a pleasure to write for Small Biz Trends. Thanks for having me “on”.

  2. Very true. Building a brand now takes time and if you want to see the fruits of your hard work… you will have to wait! Patience is the key here.

  3. So true. I was just talking about this with a client today. I referred to the time commitment as an investment. You are building a community, a following and a group of influencers. This is an INVESTMENT. Just like a relationship, these are the people who will support you and let you know when you need to change. In both cases you need to invest some time and time will be found if its a priority. For social media, my clients start off by scheduling in several hours a week and make it part of their routine. By setting up some systems and using automation tools, they are able to fit in social media tasks and not have it over-consume them.

  4. Where you spend your time will quickly show you what you’re giving top priority. If you look at your time expenditure and aren’t happy with what you see, make the tough changes and get your priorities lined up again.

  5. Hi David,

    Very realistic and down to earth advice on making the time to invest in relationships. I wanted to also call your attention to two studies that may have added insight on business use of social media and both conclude that businesses are satisfied with their social media efforts even if it is more brand perception than lead generation.

    1) Network Solutions Small Business Success Index http://bit.ly/smallbiz4

    2) Social Customer Engagement Index http://bit.ly/cmV8MT from TheSocialCustomer.com and Brent LEary.

    Believe me both will be worth your time.

    Shashi Bellamkonda

  6. Shashi – I’ll take a look. Thanks for the kind words.

    Robert – Very well said. And it is up to all of us individually to decide.

    Susan – Exactly. Good choice of words. “Investment” is right on the money.

    Rohan – Abso-freakin-lutely.

  7. Quite true!

    Here at Queensboro, we were originally a bit hesitant to devote the necessary time and effort to social media. Our half hearted actions led to half hearted results.

    In recent months, we renewed our efforts with the energy it deserved and have built an entertaining and interactive community that consists of many loyal customers. To show our appreciation, we recently gave our Facebook fans free t-shirts with a unique “Royal Family” logo.

  8. Martin Lindeskog

    It takes time before you could harvest. I have been sowing the seeds and cultivated the landscape for a long time, and I am starting to see the fruits of my labor. 🙂

  9. It takes time but look around and you’ll see more and more people following you, taking your advice and wanting more.

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