Social Media Is Free, But Comes with a Price

I am mostly offline, attending a business conference. I have asked several bloggers to post in my absence. This is a guest post by Jason Stambaugh, who is a husband, father, founder of Wevival, and blogger. You can connect with him on his blog or follow him on Twitter. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

“The best thing about social media is that it’s free!” I heard this the other day, and cringed. While it’s true that we don’t need a credit card or PayPal account to use Facebook or Twitter, there is still a cost to social media. We pay daily with our time.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/hogie

On an average day, I spend more than an hour engaging on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. Throw in a Tweetchat, a newsletter, a YouTube video, and four blog posts each week, and I spend twenty hours a week, using social media to build my platform.

That’s a part-time job! Multiply seventy to eighty hours per month by any hourly rate, and we’re talking serious money.

It’s no surprise, then, that as business leaders we demand to see a return on our investment. For most of us, the benefits we see from our time spent creating great content, building community, and engaging with others is considered “intangible.”

In other words, there isn’t always a direct link between our time spent using social media and direct sales of our products and services.

I live in this tension and often wrestle with the quantity of time and intellectual capital I invest in my online platform. But then an interaction happens through social media that reminds me of these often overlooked benefits of social media engagement:

  1. Accountability. With every tweet, post, and status update I put more and more skin in the game.

    Every day that I choose to create great content, engage with others, and build my online community,I’m becoming more invested in my passions, dreams, and projects. It’s a daily reminder of where I’m going and why I wake up everyday and take my seat in front of the keyboard.

    Furthermore, the community I’m building and am connected to holds me accountable to my mission and goals. When my projects hit a dead end or I lose my way, I remember that a community of my friends, peers, and colleagues are watching.

  2. Thought Leadership. Regardless of our business or industry, it is our responsibility and obligation to stay up-to-date on trends, events and news. Social media makes this really easy.

    Through social networks I’m able to track with the leading voices in marketing, social media, web technology and church leadership.

    This not only helps me to meaningfully contribute to the conversation in my industry and areas of passion, it helps me run a better and more prosperous business. I’m enriched and challenged everyday with new ideas, information, and strategies.

  3. Help. Whether it’s troubleshooting my latest parenting crisis or figuring out new and innovative ways to use Pinterest, the community I’ve built through social media is there and willing to help.

    It’s hard to place a value on getting my child to sleep through the night, or finding new ways to serve my customers and solve my latest web development challenge.

  4.  Real-Life Connections.Through Twitter, I’ve been introduced to awesome people in my industry. Some of these relationships have made their way from virtual to real life connections.About once a week I’ll have a phone conversation, Skype chat, or meet with someone I’ve connected with on Twitter.

    Short of bumping into them at a conference or cornering them after a presentation, I never would have met or had the chance to form a personal relationship with many of these people.

  5. Opportunity. There is often a lot of guesswork involved in marketing new or existing products and services. Through social media, I’m able to track with industry leaders and see what they are doing to meet the needs of their customers.

    With little effort, I can see what is working and what isn’t. I’m also able to identify new opportunities to serve my customers and come up with product offerings that are sure to scratch a serious itch in the market place.

These five overlooked benefits keep me writing, tweeting, and connecting. Social media has a price, but I’ve found time and time again that it is, indeed, worth it.

Question: What “intangible” benefits have you seen from engaging in social media? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

    Real life connections and community have been big benefits of being involved in the social media arena.  Through my own blog, this blog, and so many other great blogs, I have become friends with people from across the country and even around the world.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Amen.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

       Ditto to Jason’s amen.

  • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com/ Patricia Zell

    I enjoy social media and would love to be able to devote the necessary time to use it to the fullest extent, but I don’t have the time during the school year (not a whine, just a fact). I’m hoping to do the necessary ground work this summer in order to work out a sustainable approach for next year. Thanks for your post, Jason!

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      I didn’t start out this way…

      Before I truly got social media “religion”, I would participate in bursts, going silent sometimes for days. Even though I was spending a considerable amount of time, it was, in many ways, wasted. Consistency is incredibly important. You are smart to retool and find a sustainable path for you. 

      Good luck with the rest of the school year.

  • http://www.alslead.com/ Dave Anderson

    I am trying to block 1 hour a day, early morning to social media.  Then I respond to comments 2 more times during the day.  Admittedly my platform is not as large as others as I just launched my site on Monday (www.alslead.com).  I am going to file this post and return to it in a few months to see if my conclusions are the same.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Outside of blogging (I took a look at your site), what other social media networks are you using?

      • http://www.alslead.com/ Dave Anderson

        I am using Twitter and FB with a fan page as well.  I am intending to learn Hootsuite.  But, I have not done that yet.

        Thanks for checking out my site too!  I appreciate any comments or suggestions that will make me better.

        • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

          Hootsuite is a great way to manage your social world and make sure nothing slips through the cracks. I’ve been using it for over a year now and love it. 

          You are off to a great start on your site. What made you choose wordpress.com?

          • http://www.alslead.com/ Dave Anderson

            Honestly, I knew the brand.  Some of my friends who began blogging well before me and I used as advisors use wordpress.com.  

            Plus, my site designer, Robbie Jones, who does Pine Cove Christian Camps’ site, recommended it.

          • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

            Very cool. Down the road, you may want to consider hosting your own wordpress site (wordpress.org). It will give you a lot more flexibility.

          • http://www.alslead.com/ Dave Anderson

            Thanks for the insight and the coaching.  I am a sponge at this point.

  • http://www.ChristianFaithAtWork.com/ Chris Patton

    Jason, I would not have fully understood this post six months ago, but today I am celebrating my six month anniversary with my blog!  I do not have the time or space here to list all I have learned, but it is amazing to me when I think about it!

    I will mention one opportunity that stands out.  Just last week, I received an email from one of my email subscribers.  He is an evangelist and pastor of a church in Chandigarh City, India.  He wanted to know if I would be willing to preach in one of their church services (via Skype) to encourage them and talk about evangelizing their marketplace!  Can you believe that?!?

    Of course, understanding the power of social media as you do, this likely comes as no surprise.  Six months ago, you would not have been able to convince me that I would have this opportunity!  I can’t wait to see how this goes!

    By the way, the link…

    http://christianfaithatwork.com

    • http://www.leahadams.org/ Leah Adams

      Chris, that is awesome!! Congratulations.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Very cool! Happy “accidents” like that happen all the time when you consistently use social media. I hope the sermon goes well. 

    • Rachel Lance

      Wow, amazing story of using the “online to facilitate offline” experiences. Thanks for sharing your story & many blessings as your social journey continues!

      • http://www.ChristianFaithAtWork.com/ Chris Patton

        Thanks Rachel! I am looking forward to seeing what happens next!

  • http://www.leahadams.org/ Leah Adams

    This is such a great piece. I have felt guilty for the time I spent on social media and my blog in the past…not that it has been excessive. This article reminds me of the importance of social media. I’m going to share it with some others who I believe could benefit. Thanks so much.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      I appreciate it Leah. 

      When I sat down to add up all of the time I spent, I admit, I was a little shocked. 

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    I deal occasionally with those in marketing,- and I’m continually frustrated at how they talk about facebook and twitter as so important but have no idea why. Then they try to over-quantify everything. I really appreciate your approach here to honestly evaluate the intangible benefits.
    I think another great benefit is the simple learning that happens by doing. Having to produce great content requires you to think deeply about your content. And since I don’t think social media is going anywhere, participating in it now teaches you valuable skills that will only get more valuable.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Thanks for the great feedback! 

      I agree. When you set a blogging calendar and force yourself to churn out posts, you are definitely better for it. You find nooks and crannies inside of your own ideas, you didn’t know where there. It also helps to hone your ideas. 

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    Social media has been a ministry for me. It’s provided an opportunity for me to put “skin” out there as you said and offer hope. I’ve been able to build strong relationships with a few. My job is in social media and many times people can only focus on the ROI in dollar signs. That’s the people that still don’t get it. Thanks for the post. 

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      You mentioned, social media and ministry in the same sentence. If you’ve checked out my blog, you know that this is something I’m incredibly passionate about. 

      Which social network allows you to form the deepest personal connections with people? 

      • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

        Love your website Jason! Facebook would be the biggest tool for me. What about you? 

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

       You’re right, Sundi Jo. Sometimes the best rewards aren’t at all financial. Great reminder.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Twitter has been a surprising help during emergencies. We had a major county wide power outage here in the San Diego area about a year ago. Since I had no power at home, I couldn’t watch TV or get on the internet. I tried to use my cell phone to call my wife, but all circuits were busy. The only media I had was a car radio and Twitter on my smart phone.

    Using the hashtag #blackout on Twitter brought all sorts of useful information quickly. While the radio announcers were trying to figure out how widespread the blackout was, Twitter users were reporting right from the scene. I knew that the blackout extended all the way in to southern Orange County within minutes. The important thing was, all gas stations were closed and the freeways were a total mess. People with long commutes were running out of gas.

    At the time, my wife was in central Orange county, getting ready to come home from her mom’s house. With a 75 mile drive, she would be encountering the blackout about 20 miles in to her commute. Luckily I was able to email her and have her fill up where she was and be prepared for a huge traffic mess. Twitter really saved the day.

    Twitter was also used at the recent Daytona 500 by driver Brad Keselowski to report right from his car about the jet dryer fire on the track. He tweeted pictures from the cockpit to all of his followers. Once the TV announcer mentioned this, his Twitter followers went through the roof. He went from 71,000 followers at 10pm to 192,000 followers at midnight, when the race resumed. In two hours he gained 120,000 social media friends. The combination of TV and social media are a powerful force indeed.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Thanks for sharing some real-life stories John. These types of things aren’t often discussed in the boardroom. 

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        Twitter is really useful here in California with earthquakes. You find out much sooner where it was and what the damage is. Much better than listening to the radio or watching TV. At least 20 to 30 minutes ahead of regular media.

  • http://www.michaelnichols.org/about Michael Nichols

    Great post Jason! I am continuously evaluating my social media time to maximize my return on investnent. While there is a cost, there is the potential for great value – as you have pointed out. Good work!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Michael, how do you keep the cost and value in sync? I’ve discovered that there definitely is a threshold beyond which the cost (time, creative drain, etc.) certainly outweighs the value.

  • Jack Lynady

    Nice read. Social Media has made it easier for me to find my tribe, but the true connection happens as we have taken those conversations off-line or to a smaller forum. I am noticing a trend where FB, T’ville, etc. are like a big mall. Lots of people u may or may not connect well with. Then u have the stores where people share a little more connection it’s like the small Ning networks, blogs, etc. From there I have taken those relationships further by setting up a phone chat, google hangout, meet up, and now organizing a three day retreat. All leading to more connection and depth.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      We might call that the “engagement funnel”. 

  • http://joannamuses.com/ Joanna

    One amazing benefit for me lately is finding a place to live via Facebook. I was hoping to find some pretty specific things like being in a particular area, having public transport easily accessible, having Christian housemates and being within my budget. I noticed in my Facebook newsfeed a link to the details of someone’s friend (or friend of a friend maybe) with rooms to rent. Turns out the place was an excellent fit for my needs and I was blessed enough to get a room there. 

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Thank you for sharing. It’s hard to put a “price” on that, isn’t it?

  • Lakeciaah

    I love the fact that you can reconnect with former colleagues, raise social consciousness, and build relationships

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with former relationships as well.

  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    I have been able to connect with many people that I wouldn’t be connected to as regularly face to face. It has even given me influence with people in my church who are often times left as acquaintances in which I am unable to give them much of my time face to face. It puts us on a mutual agreement when we do see each other face to face.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      I’ve found that too, particularly with my friends on Facebook. When I run into folks at church or around town, we have a context more meaningful conversations. 

  • Louise Gallagher

    I have been writing a blog everyday for five years — without putting any energy into building my platform/audience. guess what? I haven’t built a platform/audience. At the beginning of this year, I started another blog that I write on everyday, http://www.ayearofmakingadifference.com  and am so grateful I’ve read your article this morning — my goal is to build my platform/audience — and reading this — it twigged!  I get it. I have to treat building my platform/audience like it’s part of my business — not just something I do.

    I’m also grateful to read what you wrote in the comment to Patricia about your early days — that’s me!!!!!

    Thank you Thank you. maybe it’s timing. maybe it’s exactly what I needed to hear this morning. Doesn’t matter — it is time. 

    Thank you!

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      It’s no longer enough to have a site. 

      I’m so glad this post gave you some needed inspiration and encouragement. Your site  looks like it is off to a great start. There are a lot of people who are looking for meaningful ways to make a difference everyday. I’m sure you will be successful building a platform around that idea! Best of luck to you.

      Which social networks are you using the most to connect with people? 

  • http://cherionethingivelearned.blogspot.com/ Cheri Gregory

    Expanding on #2, I feel like the blogs I follow and engage in have the cumulative effect of an excellent online course. 

    I read high-quality relevant content. I think thoughts I wouldn’t have thought on my own. I  “join the conversation” (however imperfectly!) Sometimes others respond to me; sometimes they don’t. But I still have the new concepts churning away in my mind for the next days, weeks and months. 

    Thanks to Discus, I can retrace conversations threads when I’m ready to use my initial mullings in my own writing. So social media also serves as an authentic brainstorming process for me, as well.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Great point! 

      We need to feed ourselves with content relative to our own passions to help move our own ideas forward. Other people can help us take our own ideas and musings to the next level. Thank you for adding your voice to this conversation. 

  • Lorraine

    These are great thoughts to balance against my hearty dislike of the loss of privacy if one fills in the blanks in the personal profiles attached to each form of social media.  The more I hear about companies and agencies with agendas mining social media, the less I want to be “out there.”  I need to keep Jason Stambaugh’s points in mind too.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Privacy is a big deal, and very valid concern about social media. We, the users of social media, foot the bill for these awesome sites with our personal data. I use Google Apps. I love it and it is free. However, I know well that Google is exploiting my personal data for financial gain, by selling targeted advertising opportunities to companies and agencies. Facebook, twitter, etc. are no exception. 

      This is another price we pay for social media. We have to find a balance, but I think the five benefits mentioned above (among many others) make social media a good deal in the end. I sacrifice my privacy daily on the alter of building relationships and making a difference. Would I rather pay monthly fees for access and keep advertisers and marketers out of my business, maybe. But you are very right, social media is made available at the expense of our privacy. 

  • Frank

    Thank you – I really enjoyed this post.  I have just started using social media for my business and you are quite right – it eats up a lot of my time.  Right now I am considerign the time I spend blogging, commenting on other blogs and the use of twitter, facebook, etc… as investment time.  A lot of people think social media is a goldmine – which it is – but can not be mined overnight!

    Thanks again for a great post.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      You got it. Social media is a slow drip. It’s one of the few things in this world where you can’t shortcut the process. Building an authentic an engaging online platform takes a consistent investment overt time. Over night success stories are few and far between. 

      Thanks for the comment! 

  • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

    Social media definitely helps me feel less alone, which I physically am most days. Yet, I have not found the connection to others that you write about. Maybe it’s because I’m fairly new yet (4 months), or maybe it’s because I don’t get it yet. I’m going to wait it out but do feel discouraged at times.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      It took me quite a while to get it and see the value too. I see that you are on Twitter. One of the things that really helped me was connecting with other through Tweetchats or Hashtag communities. I’d recommend that you do a google search to look for Twitter communities that exist around your areas of passion. 

      I’d recommend connecting with #chsocm on twitter. It’s a tweetchat and community around the use of social media and church. Since I joined in, I’ve gotten a lot of great ideas and have met some awesome people. 

      • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

        Thank you for the suggestions Jason. I will definitely check all of them out!

        • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

          No problem. 

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I’m going to be bold an make a gender statement. :) I’ve discovered that many of my female friends have a more difficult time feeling the same satisfaction through online connections, especially when they are the primary source of relationship. Not that isn’t good and beneficial — it is! But usually the connections made through FB, Twitter and blogging are merely the front door to a more in-depth relationship, and not a replacement face time over coffee in the kitchen.

      • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

        Hmmm… Very interesting thought. I am working on having more face-to-face interactions, but it is difficult because of others’ schedules. I am looking forward to growing some new relationships through social media. I am also looking forward to strengthening current and renewing old relationships. This is an exciting and somewhat fearful journey for me, but I am going to dive in anyway.

  • http://cavemanreflections.blogspot.com/ Michael Mulligan

    Great post, Jason.  I was starting to feel overwhelmed in the social media department and you’re right, there is a price you pay to be involved.  There’s also a price you pay to “disengage.”  This blog helps me to streamline my social media workload and have some balance in my life. 

    I’m on a sort of “blog vacation” this week because I’m relocating my family to the Midwest, however, I can’t stay offline for a whole week because it’s such a passion.  Every minute online has to count and I wanted to use my limited time to say thank you for all you and your team do here.  I’m finally beginning to understand the importance of cyber-communities and how they relate to the off-line world.  Keep it up.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      There is certainly a price for disengagement. You lose momentum. Thanks for reinforcing the value of staying engaged. 

      Glad this blog is helping you build your online platform! 

      • http://cavemanreflections.blogspot.com/ Michael Mulligan

         You’re welcome.  In fact, I found a talented writer here who volunteered to share a story on my blog.  Her story was so powerful I asked her to please write a guest post.  Guest posts help keep the flow going on my blog while freeing me up to enjoy my family on my “blog vacation.”  This is truly an incredible community of people who share in the desire to improve.

        One of the benefits of my relocation to the Midwest is that I will one day get an opportunity to meet some of you off-line.  I see Justin Wise from your team is based in Des Moines, a hop, skip and a jump from my new home in the Iowa City area.  Nice!

        • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

          Where are you relocating from? 

          • http://cavemanreflections.blogspot.com/ Michael Mulligan

             Just outside San Diego in a town called Ramona.

        • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

          “a talented writer.”  Thank you Michael! It was my pleasure.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      The midwest is a great area. Hope you have a smooth relocation!

      • http://cavemanreflections.blogspot.com/ Michael Mulligan

        Thanks, Joe. I already know how incredible the people are. My wife and I have visited often and the people in Iowa are some of the finest people I’ve known.

  • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

    I echo what you’ve said about social/real interaction. Some of my coolest friends have come via social media initially. The relationship deepens when I see him/her in person. Recently I had the privilege of meeting face to face with my editor at Thomas Nelson, which was amazing. On that same trip, I met with Alece Ronzino who had been my cyber friend a long time. To see her was the best buttercream icing on the cake you can imagine.

  • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

    The other important thing about social media is actually what you can glean from it, which Michael shares here. I learn about what’s hot and what’s not. I find books I can read about leadership and business. I come in contact with videos and tutorials I wouldn’t have found any other way. Invaluable.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      I’ve had the same experience. I found out about this blog through social media…

    • Jim Martin

      Mary, what you express is exactly my experience.  Through social media, I have learned about so many resources, books, resource people, and other resources.  It has been very helpful.

      • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

         I hear you. Plus I’ve met some amazing people!

  • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

    Last post, I promise. The hidden value of social media is the ability to specifically encourage people. Almost every day I try to find a way to cyberbless someone, usually via Twitter. While Jesus looked at the masses and had compassion on them, sometimes I look at my Twitter feed in the same way. My heart wells up with joy for my friends and acquaintances. I pray for them. I try to say encouraging things. And since I know how uncomfortable it is to promote yourself, I try to promote others so they won’t have to do it. 

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Encouragement is huge. When I first started getting serious about Twitter, I was blown away when Chris Brogan replied to one of my tweets. I couldn’t believe it! It’s so hard to keep up the hard work when you feel like no one is listening. 

      Recently, I created a Fan Page on Facebook for people to share memories, stories and thoughts with my mom, who is losing her battle with cancer. The response was astounding. My family has been blessed.

      • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

         You’re right. It’s really humbling and encouraging when others respond to our tweets. Cool on Chris!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

       That’s a great mindset, Mary! I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the amount of ministry that happens on FB in particular. Even though I’ve often thought about quitting, it’s the one thread that keeps me going back again and again. What a sweet opportunity to be able to encourage and be “present” with others online.

      • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

         I agree. There is a great platform for ministry there.

  • Anonymous

    I think there is great value in edifying and encouraging fellow brothers and sisters in Christ through social media.  What could be easier than to type “I am praying for you today!” ?  Of course, then we need to follow up by really doing it!  Or to type “I really appreciated…” you fill in the blank.  

    We can also use social media to thank others.  Gratitude is easy with social media and yet most of us don’t take the opportunity to use it.  

    Just a few of my thoughts :)

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Those are some great thoughts. I think social media is among the most powerful ministry tools available to the church. 

      • Anonymous

        Yes!  Ironically, I included the very same thing in my blog post (growing4life.net) yesterday before I had even read this one.  We need to think of Social Media as a tool to be used for the Kingdom instead of letting it steal our precious time.  It’s all in perspective.

  • http://levittmike.wordpress.com levittmike

    Social media has provided individuals like myself unparalleled access to information and gracious people like Michael Hyatt and his team of community leaders.  Great post Jason!

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      I couldn’t agree more. 

      I see you are on G+. Do you like it so far? 

      • http://levittmike.wordpress.com levittmike

        I like the Circles component of G+, plus the lack of dozens of Farmville invites

        • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

          Haha. That is certainly one benefit. I asked, because I’ve had a hard time finding room for it in my daily routine. 

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

       I agree Mike. The knowledge that you can gain from social media is amazing. I know I’ve seen tremendous growth because of it.

      • http://levittmike.wordpress.com levittmike

        There have been many articles and tips that I’ve shared via FB, Twitter, G+ that have helped many people.  Pay it forward!

    • Jim Martin

      Mike, you put your finger on something so important to me.  Social media has provided the opportunity the have access to the thinking of good thinkers and leaders. Of course, there is great value in reading a good book or journal article.  However, I also enjoy reading the author of a post as he/she interacts with readers.

      • http://levittmike.wordpress.com levittmike

        Thanks Jim!  Social media has created opportunities that before were very rare.

  • http://robsorbo.com/ Rob Sorbo

    How do you separate personal and business social media use?

    I mainly use it for personal use, but then there are times when I want to support my blog to a broader market, but I generally just feel like I’m spamming my friends. (At this point I have way too small of a blog following to justify making separate social media accounts).

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Great question. 

      I take a “whole life marketing” approach. My blog, my business are a major part of my life. Authentically sharing my life with friends and followers requires that I share about both of them along side of photos of my son and my thoughts about a book I just read. 

      I do have specific business accounts but they are more or less to aid in customer service or to share relevant, industry related content. Over the past year, I’ve transitioned away from focusing primarily on my “business” accounts, opting instead to focus my engagement on a more personal level. For me the line between me (the person) and me (the business) is very thin. 

      My whole life approach has been very effective. 

      That said, you don’t want to use your “personal” accounts to exclusively promote your business or blog; that’s spamming your friends and followers. There are a lot of rules of thumb out there, but I’d say 1 out of 20 posts on twitter are about my blog or business, while it’s more like 1 out of 15 on Facebook. 

      Anyone else have thoughts they’d like to share on the topic? 

  • http://www.irunurun.com/blog/ Travis Dommert

    Great concise snapshot for people who “don’t get social media”.  I was one of them 2 years ago.  Today I count clients, friends, and influencers among my social network that are bettering my life and my business.  Thanks to all of you!

    I also agree that the accountability of social media provides a constructive nudge to stick with commitments that so many of us naturally need.  Drift is a pervasive threat to any change endeavor.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Thanks Travis! 

      It’s easier to put a project on the backburner or neglect to reach out to people when no one is watching. 

  • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

    I love the discussions I am able to have as a result of social media. I can contact people way easier than I would be able to without it. The conversations we are able to have are great. I also love learning from the posts other people put up. I read things I would never read if I did not follow many of the people I do on twitter! 

    After having our first child, my wife started a group on Facebook for moms who currently go to or have gone to the college we attended. She was feeling very frustrated (as most first time moms do) and figured others have felt that way before. The advice, prayer requests, and encouragement these moms share with each other is invaluable. It is this kind of connection that I find incredible about social media.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      How do you keep up with all of the posts on Twitter?

      • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

        I have been using HootSuite a little more. Anyone who posts good content I put in a column together and I spend some time in the morning scrolling down through their posts. 

        • Jim Martin

          Brandon, HootSuite has been extremely helpful to me as well.  Thanks.

  • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

    Great post Jason.

  • http://lifelessonshopefaithlove.blogspot.com/ Vanessa Tachenko

    I follow very successful, inspirational, people on Twitter, which serves as a wonderful reminder to constantly aim for my full potential and keep God has my number one priority. 

    I am continually amazed at how many people follow each post I make on Facebook. I can’t tell you the amount of times that the Holy Spirit has gently reminded me that Facebook can be a marvelous witnessing tool. 

    The more genuine and vulnerable I am on my blog, the more people read and respond. So my blog is another great reminder to be honest… all the time… even if the honesty makes me look silly.

    It’s a unique time that we live in, and for that I’m thankful!

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      As I’ve shared before in previous comments, I’m extremely passionate about the use of social media for ministry. Facebook presents us with a HUGE opportunity to build and grow life changing relationships. 

    • Jim Martin

      Vanessa, good comment!  There are huge opportunities to encourage, learn, and be involved in ministry through social media.  Thanks.

  • Rita @ Healthy Mom Sexy Wife

    Great post and it is very timely for me.  I have been struggling lately since I’m looking for a job and not a career change.  I still plan on maintaining my blog and moving forward so thinking about those who read and enjoy my blog is motivation for me.  I don’t spend as much time connecting on social media as I should but know its value. 

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      It can be tough as we go through various seasons of life. When my son was born, I fell off the radar…

  • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ Ryan Hanley

    I have had so many unexpected opportunities that have arisen solely from Social Media… The time is never a concern for me.  

    There isn’t enough time for connecting and adding value.

    Great article!

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      If only there were more hours in the day.

      • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ Ryan Hanley

        I wish I had a button that would extend the day by a couple hours… I wouldn’t abuse it.  But every once in a while a couple extra hours would be fantastic!

  • jane claire bigelow-poindexter

    I think you are absolutely correct.  The accountability factor me is great!  And having feedback is soooooooo nice when you work alone at your computer writing.  You can begin to wonder if anyone cares about what you are writing.   Those two components are worth the time.  You could have to pay big buck to have a consultant look at your stuff for feedback when many times, the voices on social media let you know alot – especially if you read beween the lines.  You can learn new trick to hone your trade that might not have even been the intent of the writer.  Thank you  for writing this!  jane claire

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Exactly. Which social networks do you use the most for feedback? 

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    Great post Jason.

    People always seem to forget that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. And, you’re right, that includes social media. Whether it be our time, our privacy, or some other cost…

     

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Well said Joe. 

  • Meg Davis

    Absolutely right! I love creating that personal, real-life connection! And when it come to keeping my ear to the ground, twitter has become my news!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Me too — when I want to know about any breaking news, I check Twitter before my news apps!

  • Dawn Ford

    Real life connections and defining the message.  When I started my non-profit, of course I had to write articles of incorporation, establish a board and officers.  So basically we knew where we were going.  Learning about social media, engaging with and establishing an audience/branding has forced us to laser focus what Infinite Love Ministries, INC. is about.  It’s changed our “elevator pitch” and how we present ourselves to potential donors and supporters. 

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      I’ve definitely honed my branding, messaging, and product offerings based on the trends I’ve been able to see via Twitter. 

  • http://juliesunne.com/ Julie Sunne

    As a social media relative newbie (7 months), I’m indeed seeing a price tag. Time is always a concern. Your post is encouraging, Jason, as I take on the potentially costly assumption that tweeting, facebooking, blogging, and yes, pinning, will truly pay dividends. So far, the benefits for me have been the enjoyment of connecting and being a blessing to others through my words.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      It’s kinda like having faith in things unseen. When I wonder about the “business” value of my social media engagement, I always have to return to these 5 benefits. 

  • Nina D Nesdoly

    If you take the time to develop an impressive media image, that time can become money in other ways. I am an athlete, and athletics is a business in of it’s own. Our Twitter accounts, Facebook profiles, Youtube Videos and Blogs are of great importance. Media is of great interest interest for associations, sponsors, funding opportunity, and international representation, so how you present yourself online matters. It took me hours to set up my Facebook Timeline, go through all the photos and comments from the past 4 years, but it was worth it.

    I find it amazing that this was today’s post, since I did a post on my website today about creating a professional Facebook page. I focused on the basics: polished, positive, and appropriate. It needs to be said as some people are not aware that their content is being used to evaluate them in business, and many of my readers are young athletes.
    http://ninanesdoly.com/2012/03/01/create-professional-facebook-profile/ 

  • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

    Great post, Jason.  3, 4 and 5 have made the biggest impact on my social media participation. It is amazing the people I’ve “met” on line and the help I’ve received from them.  

  • http://talesofwork.com/ kimanzi constable

    I have made some awesome friends, networked with other like-minded individuals, we helped each other grow our platforms. I have also been exposed to amazing content on friends social media pages.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    The time invested has been worth connecting with new and reconnecting with old friends. Saturday, as my wife and I travel south, we have a dinner date with a friend and his wife. Last time we spoke with David, he was single with no special someone on his heart. Dozen years later, we’re meeting him and his wife thanks to Facebook.

    Social media isn’t just about building virtual communities. It’s about meeting friends (and sometimes sitting down for a real cup of coffee and a face-to-face conversation).

    • Jim Martin

      I have found social media valuable for much the same reason.  It has enabled me to get in contact again with people I went to high school with or otherwise had not seen in a long time.

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

         I met my fellow high school grads last year on 3 separate occasions. Since I grew up in Texas but now live in Wisconsin, without Facebook, I would have not met with my classmates. Prior to those gatherings, I last had seen most of them on May 23, 1973, the night of our graduation.

  • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

    When I first started Twitter in 2008, I was completely surprised by how it helped my writing. I had to learn how to write tight, say something significant in so few characters. Who knew? Now I think I most enjoy the blossoming relationships, and how I get to learn from a large and diverse group of people.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      My twitter birthday is July 1 2008!
      twbirthday.com

      I agree, twitter does make learn to cut the fat, and be creative!

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        You beat me … my twitter Bday isn’t until October!

        • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

          :)

  • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

    Jason,
    I am thinking that everyone’s comments should have to be under 140 characters? Ha.

  • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

    Social media can make attention an addiction. Blog traffic, page views, emails and comments can easily become how you value your self-worth. 

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Jim,
      You bet it can—all good things can be distorted. I am certainly guilty of this at times!

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      While I’ve never valued myself based on the my traffic, followers and likes, I can say that those things wage war on my ideas, projects and motivation. When something I love and I think is awesome fails to move the needle, I think about hanging it up. 

  • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

    Jason,
    Great post. I relate to #3 the most. There have been several times when I am putting together a lesson or have a question— I can ask “the collective” (Star Trek reference) and I get great feedback— and reciprocate the favor. Twitter is a little more personal than just “Googling”  the answer, too—you get the interaction. Great work, my friend!

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Thanks Barry. Love me some collective! I solve problems everyday on social media. Everything from finding a great chiropractor to finding a bug fix for a wordpress site. 

      • Jim Martin

        Jason, you are right, it is a good way to solve problems and find resources.

  • http://twitter.com/RebaBowman Reba Bowman

    As I minister to women and teen girls I have found that life coaching is possible through social media.  It’s a great way to check in on a teen girl who is struggling to make good decisions or a woman who just needs some encouragement to keep pushing through.  These positive “touches” are affective during the in between times.  It also allows me to connect with woman all over the world.

    • Jim Martin

      Reba, I have found the same kind of benefits in using social media.  It does give the vehicle for checking in on people and offering a few words of encouragement.

  • http://twitter.com/andrewstark andrewstark

    Hi Jason,

    The key thing you mention here is taking the time to build a relationship with the leaders in the area / niche that you’re passionate about. If you just follow celebrities and share stupid videos it is just a waste of time.

    The benefit for me would be connections around the world, and using it to find new and interesting blog posts rather than having to join a gazillion lists.

    Andrew

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Following celebrities is fun too! It is a form of entertainment and fuels plenty of water cooler conversations I’m sure. To your point, those folks who only follow celebrities and share silly videos, are only reaping one of many benefits from social media. 

  • http://mjharvell.com/ mjharvell

    Great points!  Need to always be thinking about how to redeem the time!

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  • http://twitter.com/Marisol_DAndrea Marisol D’Andrea

    self-expression!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.freestone Mike Freestone

    It is wise to discern the return on Social Media investment.  Especially if you are a business or brand builder the effort given can not be for naught.  I know I can get sucked in for hours unless I am methodical on what I am trying to accomplish or promote…all while remaining engaging and not coming off as a salesman…it is a fine line indeed.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    I have experienced that engaging in social media responsibly has brought me immense benefit with less effort. Today, I am able to stay on top on my profession, thanks to the information and knowledge I gather from the platform of social media. Things have been never so easy before.

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  • Ronn

    I am only now starting to understand the value of social media, it is the new wild west if you are not careful and it can make you if you are.

  • Jessica Zirbes

    Jason, thank you for your post. You helped me see that the time I spend engaging with others on social media platforms is a good investment.

    Another benefit: I’ve been able to add value to a lot more people!

    Cheers

  • http://relevantbrokenness.com/ Marni Arnold

    I completely agree with this insight on this topic. It indeed does cost us time, and we need to be diligent with how we spend it. Being a Stay-at-home, homeschooling, online college student mother, it’s imperative I manage my time between socializing online, giving my son the attention he needs for his education and playtime with mommy, keeping my home in order, keeping food flowing through the home so my family is fed, writing (blogging and book) and keeping up with my studies to the point I at least pass my classes (haha!). It’s not an easy balance, but I am learning how to do this more and more.

  • George Stuartvail

    Great purposeful thinking going on here – but I have a question.
    I’m considering taking over, or begining, the “Branding” of my wife and her business. No, not with a hot poker but through a few appropriate SM sites, wherein I would be the blog poster or writer. This is mainly due to the fact that she is much too busy and may not have the passion and interest in writing to maintain presence/content. I fully intent on reading Michael Hyatts new book to learn about I’m concerned about the investment in time and attention required, quite gun shy actually. I’m amazed, frankly, at her level of commitment to her ministry, which has to do with transformations into healthier lifestyles (physical, mental, spiritual) and recovery from poor choices and lifelong habits – but can I convey that passion properly?

    Ever seen a duet blog post? (sounds corny now that I’ve said it – a little too “Donny and Marie”)

    Also, Jason, why do you call yourself a “former fat kid”? Maybe you could help us with one of our newest projects RE childhood obesity?

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  • http://twitter.com/LeadingGodsGen Michelle Eichner

    One other benefit is influence. I make an effort to consciously point people to God through social media. I’ve also been able to deepen existing relationships through blogging, and the blogging has led to some mentoring opportunities I’d already felt led to do. In both cases the girls came to me, which was an answer to prayer. However, I can’t forget the biggest platform I have is my 3 boys right now. :-) I need to model for them how to use social media well so they’ll be ready to use it for God’s glory.

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  • Gayle

    What benefits have we gained through social media? Simple- a stronger presence within our market, more visits to our website, more enquiries and a few more sales. Social media is brilliant way to engage with and get to know your customers better that’s why we practice what we preach. 

  • DEEP3R

    I have learned that my time has become more valuable than ever. I emphasize with my clients that time is needs to be taken into account with social media. Spending too much or not having enough can cost you.