What’s “social” got to do with it?

onlineBusiness success, that is…

In a great post by Bill Dorman, he made specific reference to a post by Howie at SkyPulseMedia entitled “Are We Really That Social?” In speaking of social media, Howie said: “It helps your business. But it will never drive your business…and yes, everyone is going to tout the exception as proof it works. Happens every time I bring this up.”

It reminded me of an example from my early days as a lacrosse trainer. Back in the day, things like warm-ups and nutrition were not high on the priority list of game preparation for young men aged 16 to 21. And with a particular team, the players always pointed to their star player, indicating that HE didn’t have to warm up…HE didn’t worry about his diet.

Now this player was an exception. He possessed superior, innate talent. He could “do it all wrong and still get it all right.” But because the players held him up as the example, he was the exception that proved their rule, and in Howie’s words, proved their point.

I like what John Falchetto succinctly said about social: “It’s a tool people!

And Gini Dietrich reminds us that these tools – “our websites, our blogs, our content and our social media” should not be about “we, we, we”, when the customer wants to hear it’s all about “me, me, me”.

When I started blogging less than a year ago, I plunged in as a full-time student of social media. I ate up blogs, comments, twitter, facebook, linkedin, widgets and gadgets until I was stuffed to the gills with information.

But it is only with time that we can translate information into knowledge, and that knowledge into wisdom. And I like to think I’m a whole lot wiser now than I was when I started.

I’m seeing many wise words around the blogosphere these days about “social”. What it is…what it isn’t…what it can be.

It’s not like “social” is Maslow’s Golden Hammer, the definition of which is an “excessive dependence upon a specific tool to perform all sorts of functions.”

Perhaps we’ve been so enamored of “social” that we’ve forgotten that it’s not our only tool, and that to drive our business, we need to always go back to the basics: goal-setting, strategy, marketing, planning, monitoring, evaluating, and adjusting.

Gini says it best when she reminds us that, as we come to the end of 2011, it’s the perfect time to review all materials – print and online – to ensure that we’re speaking in customer-centric terms.

I love to write. I love to blog. But I also love my business, and I’ve been paying a bit too much attention to the tool lately. Thanks Bill, Howie, John and Gini for the timely reminders.

Your turn now.

Are you overly dependent on “social” to build your business, or have you treated it as just another tool in your toolbox?

What kind of success have you had in building and growing your business, specifically through “online”?

What words of wisdom can you share about what’s worked and what hasn’t for you and your business online?


  • Anonymous

    Yeah, mine was a pretty great post, huh? Maybe even top 3……………doh………..

    I feel like I have matured somewhat in this arena but I still feel I talk about ‘me’ too much. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a strong, formal background in writing but it seems the only way I can relate to a story as I am writing it. I would like to think my actions are more outward thinking and it’s not all about me, but there is always room for improvement and to grow.

    Social is only a tool and yes, there seems to be tools in social. Every day I am learning there is only a slight distinction between online and in real life; it’s still people and regardless of how much they might try to be somebody else, your true colors will show eventually.

    Once the honeymoon phase is over, then it’s time to figure out who has substance and who doesn’t. 

    I would say the biggest surprise to me is how many people just give it up. It seems to happen weekly. To me, that is why it was important to find sustainability. 

    Remember Marianne Worley http://www.marianneworley.com? I have reached out to her several times and I hope she is ok, but as of Sept 9th she is just gone. I have seen way to many cases like this. 

    I’m ok with keeping it social; I can figure out how it can help me grow as a person which ultimately might benefit my business later.

    Great post, ma’am. 

    • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

      @bdorman264:disqus I love each and every one of your posts, so just keep writing cuz we “love you just the way you are”:)

      I can relate to the need to find one’s own groove: to find a system, schedule or way of participating online that not only fosters sustainability, but keeps the fun in the game. Like everything in life, I believe there will always be ebb and flow…sometimes more involvement, sometimes less, and sometimes a “vacation” from it all, but I do see more people deciding to walk away from it all. And funny that you mention Marianne. I was culling my reader the other day and went to her site and noticed the date of her last post. I agree: hope she’s OK.

      As you so aptly say, “it’s still people”, and I do believe our involvement in social benefits those we connect with as much as it benefits us. It’s just up to us as to how to use the tools.

      Keep writing “just the way you are”, Bill. I look forward to your posts. And I wouldn’t want to have to use my shoe phone to call up my ninjas to find you and put you back to work, haha! Cheers! Kaarina

      • Anonymous

        Thanks for the kind words ’cause I was just kidding about not writing about me. I’m so wonderful, why wouldn’t I want to write about me. In fact, I think I’m going to do an autobiography starting at year one and go through each year month by month and post it every day. Of course, I don’t have much to say so I’ll really be making up some wild stuff and I will let everybody vote whether to ‘call bullshit’ on my story of the day or not. 

        • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

          I shall look forward to the autobiography, and anticipate receiving an autographed copy of the book to follow, and I want a speaking part in the movie too:)

        • http://www.factotumep.com Erin Feldman

          This sounds like it could be a fun game.

    • http://www.factotumep.com Erin Feldman

      Haha! Bill, if you had a strong, formal background in writing, you would struggle to write in first-person. Writing in first-person used to scare me. I’m familiar with academic writing, which uses second person. No “you” or “I” (or the royal “we”) are anywhere to be found. It took some time to break away from that. Fortunately, my poetry background came into play and a few “wild” writing assignments given by a professor several years ago. Stories are great illustration points, too. They can show empathy and create a way for readers to relate to you.

      • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

        @ErinFeldman:disqus , this is self-serving, but based on your “stories are great illustration points” comment, you might enjoy my Guest Post today over at http://frankdickinson.me/power-of-telling-story/

        • http://www.factotumep.com Erin Feldman

          I read it earlier and tweeted it, but I haven’t left a comment yet. :)

      • Anonymous

        If ‘I’ or ‘that’ were removed from my options, I would be in a heap o’ trouble; and that’s the truth………..

        • http://www.factotumep.com Erin Feldman

          Oooh, I have to watch for “that” and “just.” They’re my filler words on paper. I have different ones when I’m speaking. If you need an editor for that autobiography, you know who to call…That wasn’t self-serving in the least now was it? 😉

  • http://www.thecaremovement.com Al Smith

    Great post Kaarina, despite mentioning Bill a couple of times.  Ha.  You are so right with this.  We have talked about this some, also.  I am so new to this arena and trying to build a community and market The CARE Movement.  The key is, just like in life: Balance.  We need to find the right balance bewtween all these things and incorporate the strategies and tools that work for us as individuals.  It is easy to get overwhelmed with “social” and try to do too much.  I need to find the right balance.  Something I will continue to work on.

    Thanks again for a really good, thought provoking post.  Luv ya !


    • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

      Ah, my dear friend @pasconsulting:disqus , you know how I feel about balance, don’t you? I don’t believe in balance. I think the only time we’re balanced is when we’re dead…no movement, stasis, inertia…but I do know what you mean. You’re finding your way, as we all are, to create what works for you and your community. (Please stay tuned for my upcoming book: Balance is B.S. :))))) Note to self: must write a post on balance vs. ebb and flow approach to life…you’ve inspired me Al!

      I do agree and relate to how we can get overwhelmed with “social”, doing too much, running to keep up. I think it’s only with time, experience and wisdom that we find our own pace.

      You’re doing an amazing job at CARE, and have shared with us remarkable guest posts, introducing us to so many wonderful people and ways of showing the CARE way. Keep it up: love what you’re doing, and luv ya too:) Cheers! Kaarina

      • Anonymous

        ooooo I am very intrigued by your theory on Balance @kaarinadillabough:disqus I can’t wait for that post…I’ve always been a seeker of balance but maybe I’ve been seeking the wrong thing….

        • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

          I shall be posting…and writing my book:)

    • Anonymous

      I can still kick your ass……………..just sayin’………………

  • http://twitter.com/ericamallison Erica Allison

    K, you have probably noticed my absence from the social stream of late and it’s precisely because I’ve determined that it’s a tool and one that I don’t have to use as much as I once thought. Gasp. It’s true. I’ve taken on four new clients in this quarter that did not come to me as a result of social.  They  came to me the old fashioned way…word of mouth referrals from existing clients or subcontractors.  

    I’ve been so busy trying to do my paid gig that I’ve simply not had the time to put into my marketing or branding efforts online. And that’s it, right there, it’s a branding effort for me – my time on social, that is. It’s worked wonders and it will continue to do so, but on my schedule and not in an effort to tweet throughout each and every day or to blog each and every day. I love to write and enjoy blogging, but unless I start sleeping 4 hours/night, there’s no way I can feasibly keep up a pace of more than once/week.I recently had a web design friend ask me “who does your SEO”…you’re at the top of Google for marketing in our region. To which I replied, “I do.” I do it with blogging, youtube, and social media.  To that point, I’m not going to walk away entirely, but I will pull back the reigns just enough to remain sane and keep business going in the right direction (up). ;)Cheers, Kaarina! 

    • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

      You are such a smart woman @twitter-135012379:disqus , and I will take my cue from what you just said. I’m confidently pulling back the reins, and accepting that my online/ “social” presence will ebb and flow in accordance with my business priorities.

      It’s taken me nine months to “graduate” from neophyte student to confident student of social media, and yet I’m still wet behind the ears. So much to learn, so much to do, so much potential. But I think we all reach a point where the scales tip too far in one direction, and we need to take stock, re-prioritize and change the rules of our own game, to our best benefit.

      When anything in life becomes so arduously an obligation that our health, happiness, productivity and profitability are negatively affected, it’s time for serious soul-searching and adjustment. Just makes sense.

      I love your line, that you will do it “on my schedule and not in an effort to tweet throughout each and every day or to blog each and every day.” Amen to that!

      And four new clients…BRAVO! That is fabulous and shows that you’re putting your priorities in the right place.

      I like to think that those of us who have become friends will always be there for each other, regardless of time or distance. That’s what friends are for, right? Thanks, my friend, and I couldn’t be happier for your decisions, and the ones I’m making too:) Cheers! Kaarina

      • http://twitter.com/skypulsemedia Howie at Sky Pulse Media

        @twitter-135012379:disqus @kaarinadillabough:disqus I think the key is bias. Our business isn’t making money from selling social media. I make money helping clients make money and picking the best choices for them. If it is print so be it. I don’t make more money touting social.

        Problem is social is a powerful platform for people to shout from. So when someone like Chris Brogan or brian Solis sells a book they are biased towards the book content/subject matter. Which now is social. They surely won’t be hired by me if TV fits best. Though they might try to prove it isn’t because they make money selling ‘Social’

        • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

          @howieatskypulsemedia:disqus , you always make me think, and your perspective is both illuminating and grounding for me. (although you being a space alien I guess the word “grounding” really doesn’t suit, haha)

          I help clients make money by being the best they can be, and applying their best energies and skills to the job; by thinking both strategically and tactically; and most important, by DO-ing things aligned with their purpose, for their personal prosperity and business profitability. That may or may not include “social”. Thanks for chiming in: I really liked your post that inspired this one…you and that @bdorman264:disqus dude, that is:) Cheers! Kaarina

  • http://twitter.com/lifeforinstance Life, for instance

    Great thinking here Kaarina!
    LOL, I’m thinking of this question: “What kid of success have you had in building and growing your business, specifically through “online”? 
    After a year of blogging, I’m finally at the place where I feel I know what I need to know to START that! I’m talking about marketing my Terra Cotta Pendants business. Ironically, blogging has given me the tools to do that.  I’ve learned and am learning so much from fellow bloggers who teach about social media tools. Ask me in another year or so if it’s working!I too paid way too much attention to my blog this past year. I allowed my love of blogging to take over – that pendulum always swings too far for  me 😉 But it eventually finds its balance. Now I feel I’ve got a balance between both my blog and my business where it comes to time spent on each. This involves turning off my email and shutting down my reader except at times  allotted for them. Seems we’re all balancing the pendulum these days judging from what Erica said and what Al said. Funny about that ;-)Lori

    • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

      Ah @twitter-228904159:disqus , you know me and my feelings about balance:)))) Won’t go into it again…covered it off in my reply to @pasconsulting:disqus . But I do know what you mean.

      Whatever we need to do to find our own pace, space and groove, I say…rock on! It’s taken me nine months to get over what @bdorman264:disqus called the honeymoon phase, and to start seeing “social” in a way that will fit my priorities but keep my community, and stay involved in the communities I love to connect with.

      I’m not looking for balance, because I know each and every day there will be ups, downs, highs, lows, ebbs, flows. But as long as I’m in flow (a term we use extensively with athletes), adjusting and maintaining perspective and priorities, I’m good with that. And I wouldn’t even know that if I hadn’t experienced what I’ve experienced to date.

      I love to write, so I know that blogging will remain a significant part of my life. But the level of commenting, tweeting et. al. will, as @twitter-135012379:disqus has decided, will adjust. I don’t want to feel like I’m on a hamster wheel, or chasing and running all the time.

      And hey! If you ever want to chat about your Terra Cotta Pendants business, I’m all ears. Cheers! Kaarina

      • http://twitter.com/lifeforinstance Life, for instance

        Yes, I’d love to do that sometime Kaarina!

        • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

          We shall DO that and make it happen @twitter-228904159:disqus :)

    • http://www.factotumep.com Erin Feldman

      How funny. I think it took me a good year before I figured out what I was doing with my blog. A lot of that had to do with the fact that I was still figuring out what I was doing with my business…I’m very thankful for other bloggers, too. I wouldn’t half of what I know without all these other people.

      • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

        @ErinFeldman:disqus I think it’s a “necessary evil” to go through, and a necessary lesson in hindsight…we learn best by DO-ing, so it always takes time, practice and experience to come to a place to “figure out” what we want to do. @bdorman264:disqus and I share a mutual joke when we say we still don’t know what we want to do when we grow up, haha! The fun is in the journey…even the tough, rough parts.

      • http://twitter.com/lifeforinstance Life, for instance

        Funny thing too, Erin, they say most bloggers don’t make it to the year mark. It really goes to show that you’ve got to stay in the game to win the game! Now to figure out how to win! LOL

        • http://www.factotumep.com Erin Feldman

          It sounds as though we’re both due for some strategy sessions.

          • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

            Ah, @ErinFeldman:disqus @twitter-228904159:disqus …strategy sessions…music to my ears!

  • http://spinsucks.com Gini Dietrich

    I think we all go through phases. I feel terribly guilty when I’m on the road and don’t have the time to visit blogs. It’s one of my favorite things to do because I love hanging out in your homes. But sometimes it’s just not feasible and I have to remember it’s a tool. 

    In order to remind myself what’s important,I have our vision on the wall right in front of me. If I go to do something that doesn’t fit that vision, I either put it on the bottom of the to-do list or I don’t do it. Some days I do better than others. But it seems to work. 

    • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

      Phases are definitely a part of life @ginidietrich:disqus …phases of the moon, seasons, tides and times. I know we’re all wise to remember that “it’s a tool”, and friends will always be there for friends, despite time and distance.

      And you’ve provided a great reminder that, staying true to our Vision and Mission requires that we continually adjust the sails to the wind…sometimes we do, sometimes we do later, and sometimes we don’t do at all.

      Great to see you here, Gini. Cheers! Kaarina

  • http://www.factotumep.com Erin Feldman

    Social really is a tool. I don’t know that I thought that when I first forayed into social media land, but that’s how I view it now. For me, social is a way to connect with likeminded people. I don’t expect to find very many clients online. If they’re connecting with me online, they’ve already figured out some of the things they need to do. Could they still need help with making those efforts better or want to improve their writing? I would hope so, but I can’t rely on that. The question for me then is where to focus my offline efforts. *sigh*

    • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

      Any time you’d like to chat about that @ErinFeldman:disqus , you know where to find me:) As many have said, online or off, it’s all about people: people do business with people, and we need to determine the most effective way of reaching those we want to connect with, online or off. Cheers! Kaarina

      • http://www.factotumep.com Erin Feldman

        I should have some time to email you later today. I almost mentioned Thanksgiving, but I remembered you already had Thanksgiving in Canada. :) Shonali gave me some ideas, such as IABC (There isn’t a chapter in El Paso, so I’m looking into starting a one.), but I’m still a little vexed by the local networking.

        • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

          We’ll talk @ErinFeldman:disqus :) Lots of possibilities!

  • http://expatlifecoach.com John Falchetto

    Thanks for the shout Kaarina. 
    Yes social media is a tool and like any tool, not having a clear vision and a list of goals to achieve along the way means we are wasting our time.
    I like to think of social media as a car, once I get into it I know where I’m going, I might get lost along the way but I never forget why I got in the car in the first place.

    Howie is right, it helps business it certainly isn’t the driver and should never be the driver of any business. Business comes first; social media second.

    • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

      I’m with you all the way @johnfalchetto:disqus :)

  • http://frankdickinson.me/ Frank Dickinson

    Thanks for this Kaarina – I often need to be reminded that social media is just a tool. Now ya got me thinking….

    • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

      I like to get people thinking @frankdickinson:disqus :)))

  • http://twitter.com/AmeenaFalchetto Ameena Falchetto

    This is such a double edged sword. It’s also a rabbit hole – it’s easy to get consumed with being “social” – it’s really time consuming and personally, it’s got debatable ROI. 
    Breaking through the noise can be confusing and draining. I’ve pulled back a bit for now because I need to regroup and keep my head clear. 
    It’s a tool – an important one but it does depend on what your primary objective is. If it’s achieving your goal then great, if it’s not, then something has to change. Thanks Kaarina for a post that’s made me think!! 

    • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

      As you know @twitter-177659877:disqus , I’m in the process of doing just that…thinking:) Thinking about the changes I’ll be making. One thing is certain: I do not want to lose the great friendships I’ve been able to make online, and I love to write, so blogging will remain an important function. But…I do need to look at the framework of the site and its contribution to my business growth. So it will remain an ebb and a flow, but I am finding my own pace and place, so that is good. Pulling back, regrouping and keeping a clear head are three things I’ll be doing as well. Cheers! Kaarina

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ The JackB

    The usefulness of a tool is restricted to how well its owner uses/wields/applies it. I can take that and apply it sports, construction, technology- whatever.

    You can give people the most advanced tool to use for a task but it doesn’t mean that they will do a better job than someone who is using something less advanced.

    For example we could instruct Tom and Tim to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days with the caveat that Tom could use his computer while requiring that Tim use a typewriter.

    There is little doubt that Tom’s computer should make it easier for him to complete his task. However it doesn’t mean that he will be more proficient at crafting a story than Tim will. 

    So I think that while we need to remember that ‘social media’ is a tool we also have to bear in mind that our proficiency at using it has a direct correlation to our success.

    • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

      I have nothing to add to that: brilliant!

  • Anonymous

    As much as I love reading, writing and commenting on blogs, like @twitter-135012379:disqus , I am finding a shift in my priorities.  My energies are being placed in my physical business at this time with occasional “reminders” of my online presence.  It is critical that I am “present” for my business right now and, because my business is so important to me, that is where I am going to put my energies.  Thanks to @lisagerber:twitter I learned a little bit more about how to analyze my business presence online and I’m figuring out how to create the correct balance (I know @kaarinadillabough:disqus …I used the “B” word ) 
    Thanks for a thoughtful post, Kaarina…I ALWAYS love stopping by here! 

    • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

      That’s OK…the word “balance” is omnipresent: I just have a different take on it (which I will share…in post and in book:)

      Good for you to be putting your energies into your business, and using online as it should be used: just one of many tools in a toolbox.

      I look forward to our hangout this week: hope you can make it. Cheers! Kaarina

  • http://www.WaxingUnLyrical.com Shonali Burke

    I don’t think I’m overly dependent on social to build my business, but it has been and is, for now at least, the way I grow my business. And that’s without an aggressive “push” from me; it’s all inbound. As I grow, I know I’m going to have to focus more on more integrated marketing… but social will remain a part of it. What has worked for me thus far is just being myself. I know that sounds cliched, but as I talk/share/respond about what I’m doing/learning/interested in, people start coming to me for help and then for work. Which is great, because it’s the kind of work I want to do.

    • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

      @Shonali:disqus  every success in life comes from being your own authentic self. Over-used word though it may be, being authentic…true to yourself and others, “real”, values-driven, high integrity and being of service…that’s what people sense, see and trust. And as has been said in various ways, we do business with people we know, like and trust. We all just need to figure out what works for us in terms of the tools in our toolbox. Great to see you here Shonali:) Cheers! Kaarina

  • http://soulati.com/blog Soulati

    Great reminders and when packaged all together it packs more punch. We are in the post social media era. No longer is it an innovation; it’s more of the mundane (well, getting there), and any channel that tries to hop on board now is going to lose. We’re all over the building networks aspect of this tool. Need to make it work to our advantage, and that’s where we’re focusing now.

    • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

      Couldn’t say it any better @soulati:disqus :)

  • http://www.bizchangerz.com Justin Brackett

    Great reminder here K. In this new season of life I’m looking again at all the tools I have used in the past and seeing what if any value that they add to my day. More than ever I’m seeing that  lots of them are just a wast of time. I do find communities like yours of huge value and I’m making time for them.

    Thanks again.

    • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

      I’m honored and delighted @justinthesouth:disqus , to be included as a community that you’ll stay involved with. The welcome mat’s always out, so whatever the frequency or timing, you’re always welcome! Cheers! Kaarina