By Srinivas Rao, Contributing {grow} Columnist

Earlier this year as I was transitioning through phases of the blogger’s evolution and making the shift to entrepreneur, I decided to make a Twitter list of some of the most successful people online so I could study them  It’s an incredibly eye opening exercise that I recommend to anybody. What shocked me was to learn how little time some of the biggest names online were actually spending on social media. Here are a few of the lessons I learned:

Creating Lasting Value

Every tweet, status update and moment of brilliance you have on any social media platform has a shelf life of about an hour.  Nobody is going to dig through the archives of your tweets and Facebook updates.  This approach to social media is the path of least resistance. To make matters worse, you’re creating content on somebody else’s platform and not getting paid for it.

To make an impact on your business, community or tribe, it’s essential to create things that have lasting value.

  • Blog Posts:  When compared to a tweet or status update, a blog post has a significantly longer shelf life. Not only will it have a more powerful impact immediately upon creating it, but it has potential to be found in your archives years later.
  • Books:  While blog posts are great, it’s easy to get on a hamster wheel and create content without a purpose. To add to that not everybody will dig through several years of archived content.  A book gives you an opportunity to expose a reader to your entire body of work.  Mark Schaefer could write a series of amazing posts about how to use Twitter.  But a book like the Tao of Twitter will have a much bigger impact in the long run.
  • Videos/Podcasts: Podcasts, videos and any other sort of multimedia content arguably take a longer time to create than written content.  But the shelf life is fantastic, and the potential to repurpose it can make it a goldmine of value for your business and your customers.

Self Promotion is a Necessity

Self promotion gets a bad rap on the social web, but I think we have be to careful not to dismiss how essential it is to the sustainability of a real business. Free content is not going to keep your lights on or put food on the table. To make money you have to sell.

The typical launch sequence of most bloggers is to spend months working on a book, course or information product of some sort. It’s followed by an aggressive promotional effort that lasts a week or two, and most of the revenue is generated in those first few weeks. After that sales come in, but sporadically. There’s nothing wrong with having an ongoing promotion strategy for the work that gets you paid:

  • If you have a product, eBook or course that you created a while back, schedule a tweet once or twice a week letting people know about it.
  • If you have an email newsletter, don’t be afraid to let the people on your list know  about your services and products on a regular basis. If  you lose subscribers, don’t sweat it. You’re running a business not a charity.

The biggest brands continually make you aware of their products with one primary goal: to generate more sales. 

Having an End Game

Do a search for any social media advice and what you’ll find is an endless stream of articles about how to increase your traffic, how to get more fans/followers, or how to write better content.  But what nobody spends enough time talking about is the end game.  What’s the ultimate goal of your social media efforts?  If you have no idea why you’re doing something, there’s a high likelihood that you’re wasting your time.

If you’re not careful social media can become a giant time suck that has little impact on your business.  Are you so consumed by social media that you’ve started to confuse activity with accomplishment?

Srinivas Rao writes about the things you should have learned in school, but never did and his the host-co founder of BlogcastFM.  You can follow him on twitter @skooloflife


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