I heard a teacher once say that some of his best lectures were ones that applied directly to him. You don’t have to be perfect to teach.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at blogs and social media. As a social media marketer, it’s tempting to dabble in all the social media sites out there. There’s a temptation to believe that you must work your way into the “IN” crowd in all of them in order to successfully promote your clients. Well, unless you have no life and spend 24/7 skipping around from one site to the next, there’s simply not enough time in the day to establish yourself at the top of every site. Besides, there’s a new one launching every week (at least).

When it comes to social media, you can definitely spread yourself too thin. Imagine trying to reach the top of the pile on Digg, Reddit, Propeller, StumbleUpon, Twitter, Pownce, MySpace, Facebook, Virb, Mixx, and two dozen other sites all at the same time. It simply won’t happen. It’s like owning and operating seven blogs. Who in their right mind can contribute to seven different blogs day after day after day? I ask this question mainly because I HAVE seven blogs and I can’t do it. Life gets in the way. It doesn’t matter how much time we spend plugged in.

You’ll pick up the desire to join and master everything if you read SEO and Web 2.0 blogs very regularly. These folks don’t have enough to discuss concerning SEO, which is why they talk about the latest and the greatest social media/networking websites. But even they, as hallowed as “they” may be, cannot master every site. They may have a Twitter account, but do they twit even every month? They may have rocked on Digg once upon a time, but have they dugg or submitted much in the last three months?

You’ve gotta know your limits. Pick a few sites to master, and allow yourself the right to be a novice elsewhere. For instance, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that you could have a rawkin’ Digg, StumbleUpon, and Twitter profile. That’s feasible. But if you’re really trying to establish yourself within a community, there’s not much of a chance that you can simultaneously rawk over at Propeller and Reddit. It’s just too much. So let’s briefly look at our options and settle on a method for handling this current state of affairs which I will affectionately term social media overload.

Option 1: Social Media Hopping
Akin to church hopping, the social media hopper will spend a good three months maximum establishing himself/herself within a given online community. Once they’ve become accepted and recognized, they take a hiatus from said community and hop on over to a new one. Each new community joined grows into a position of acceptance and mediocre popularity, then the switch is on again.

The Pros: The thinking behind social media hopping is that once you’re in, you’re in. You can always return and promote something later if you’re well connected. To most everyone else, it just looks like you’ve been busy or on vacation. So when you pop back in a few months later to submit a few articles or promote a new client, you’ll experience average to above average success.

The Cons: Hopping around from one community to the next won’t earn you top dog status. Take Digg, for example. The top dogs are focused on Digg. The reason they have so much influence is directly related to how much time, energy, and effort they have spent establishing themselves in the community. As a hopper, you’ll gain medium results at best, unless you somehow manage to befriend a top dog and they do the heavy lifting for you.

Option 2: Limit Yourself
Limiting yourself can be a strain on the ego. Some feel the need to mark their territory, somewhat akin to a dog marking each mailbox in the neighborhood so that all the dogs in the neighborhood know who is the top dog. Logic dictates that you have a better chance at reaching top dog status on a few sites compared to dozens of sites.

Pros: Quality versus Quantity. More time spent developing relationships and community presence ALWAYS pays off in the end. Enough cannot be said for quality time. Sounds like we’re talking about family or couple’s counseling, doesn’t it? We are, in effect. These aren’t people you’ll see daily, but they’re people you want to be able to depend on to help promote your future stories, sites, and clients. In order to gain their respect, you have to show up regularly and give to them first. It’s always easier to trust a giver than a taker.

Cons: Lack of universal presence. By limiting yourself, you obviously won’t have a presence in every social media community. You can’t influence everyone everywhere. That shouldn’t be your goal, however. Think strategically. Would you rather drive thousands of interested visitors to a client’s site, or drive dozens of visitors via two dozen communities? Do the math.

Option 3: Social Media Marketing Hybrid
For those of you who simply cannot restrain yourselves (because let’s be honest, who can?), be as strategic with your ADD as you can. Focus on 2-3 communities and dedicate yourself to building your presence there every day for one full year minimum. During that time, keep your eyes open for new social communities popping up everywhere. Go ahead and join each community and bookmark these for later.

At the very least, you’ll have your name or nickname spread across the socialmediasphere and you’ll have your spot reserved. No one else will be able to register under your name. THEN, when you have time without causing your primary networks to suffer, slowly incorporate yourself into a few of your new registries over time. Don’t rush. Consider these extra networks as fun, not work, and only talk to a limited few people whom you can sustain conversation with. Pick your few connections wisely, as they will likely serve as your platform to the rest of the community later. Over the long haul, you’ll have some firmly established connections despite your lack of constant use.

****************************************

I know that web marketing / interactive marketing / social media marketing lends itself to the ADD/ADHD crowd, so to each his own. Some form of structure IS actually healthy, despite what your compulsive impatience says to the contrary. Stick to a plan and you’ll see greater results over the long term. After all, that’s what we’re doing here, right? We love the gadgets, the widgets, and the sweet new designs, but in the end, it’s still all about driving results. Choose wisely.