Top 5 Reasons Social Media Requires Commitment

Commitment Social Media is a commitment.  It's not something individuals or businesses can dabble in and expect to be successful.  Here are some top ways that I've found Social Media to require commitment.  Chalk this one up to both lessons learned personally and bordering on the obvious to folks who have been leveraging social media for awhile. 

1. Blog Frequency

Best practice often suggests that while maintaining a blog, the author(s) should post new content 2-3 times a week at a minimum.  This keeps readers engaged and setting a regular pattern will keep them coming back.  For anyone whose main responsibilities have nothing to do with blogging, it can really be a challenge to keep up.  There are lots of strategies, from keeping a queue of posts and topics drafted, to scheduling regular time to dedicate.  What helps most of all is having an author or authors who are passionate about the topic.  Those folks will find a way to make it work, but long term dedication is a major factor in a blog's success.

2. Personal (or Professional) Brand Management

Once you have a blog, a twitter account, an account on Friendfeed, etc – you need to keep up with those who comment and respond.  It takes time to search twitter results for posts with your name buried in the middle, blog posts and other tools for people to keep up.  I sometimes stumble across a valuable response to a comment I made days earlier and regret not addressing it right away or capturing the RSS feed for that comment train.  A great aspect of these social media tools is that the information lives on, but much of the conversation takes place in a short time.  You can miss a window to participate with the primary group if you don't take time to keep up.

There are lots of free tools to leverage for this, including search.twitter.com, Google alerts and Technorati among others.  Our agency recently partnered with Radian6, a social media monitoring package.  I'm still learning about it, but so far I would compare it to robust web analytics packages – with a major advantage that you can gain insight not just to your own brand, but competitors.

3. Ubiquitous Content

The beauty of RSS is the distribution of content.  Social networks are proliferating.  New blogs are cropping up, and new tools are adding to the way we can share information with each other.  Frankly, there is so much valuable information to digest it's hard to keep up with it all.  There also is plenty of less than valuable content to sort through.  I use Google Reader and at times feel like I have to declare "feed bankruptcy" and mark everything as read, and I'm sure I miss valuable content in there.  Imagine if everyone you know had a blog, was connected to you on Friendfeed and was on Facebook.  Even apply this just to your company, or your industry.  Would you be able to really keep up with all of the content?

4. Relationship Building

I mentioned before that I use LinkedIn and Facebook regularly and recommend scrutinizing your social media connections.  These are great tools to keep up with friends and colleagues, but also to build relationships with contacts from networking events, business meetings and other settings.  Setting up a profile is a one time event for the most part, but truly using these tools to build upon relationships takes effort and consistent usage over time. 

5. Participating

Regardless of whether you have a few dozen or a few hundred connections, tools like Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed and others require dedication to participate in conversations, answer questions and 'consume' the media.  Uploading and tagging photos, booking trips on Dopplr, checking out events on Upcoming…  When you start to interact with other folks, there is almost an informal contract you sign jumping in to participate.  You license people to reach out to you and they expect a response back, otherwise they may move on.  It takes a long term commitment to get the most out of these tools.

When people ask me for advice about social media, I often start with, "It's a commitment – are you ready for it?"  What other ways do you see social media needing commitment?  A logical next question – what advice do you have for folks trying to balance the commitment with everything else they have to do?

Photo credit: eschipul via Flickr

Top 5 Ways to Build Team Commitment

"I am only as good as the team I surround myself with."  I've said it many times.  This statement applies to any team environment, but especially in professional services.  It applies to large projects, small projects, quick and easy projects and those complex, painful, challenging projects that everyone claims one day "you'll look back on this as a learning experience." 

Commitment and compliance are two very different states for project teams.  A compliant team is one that shows up because they have to.  They may not actually punch a time clock, but at the end of the day they shuffle their feet to the parking lot – they may even run out the door.  They are working on the project because, well, what else would they do.  A committed team treats the project like their own garden or pet – they obsess over it, they care for it, they own it.  They are thinking ahead of how to do it better, already solving the next three problems that haven't been discovered.  The project just 'clicks.'  It's much easier to go from a committed team to a compliant one.  A couple of poorly managed challenges can easily break the chain, and it's much harder to go from a compliant team to a committed one.

How do you get a team together that 'clicks'?  How do you transform your team into a high performing one?  Here are my top five means I like to employ to help build a solid team that is engaged, exceeding expectations and most importantly, committed.  (Not quite to the level of the Spartans in 300 though – now that's commitment).  I'd love to expand to this list and hear your thoughts – this is certainly not an exhaustive list.

1.  Roles and Responsibilities

It's important to know your team members and their skill sets to make sure each is in the right role, and it's even more important for the team members to know what their responsibilities are.  Often times expectations aren't laid out for teams up front that are in line with a project's expected outcomes or objectives.

2.  Empowerment and Ownership

Once you have roles that are clearly defined for your team members and expectations set, empower them – let them "do their thing" – and hold them accountable for the success and outcomes of their role.  Set expectations that "you own it," with some guidance and parameters on what they need to do.  Support them, back them up.  One example I often use:  "I don't really care which hours of the day you work, so long as you can make sure we meet our commitment on the deadline.  What do you think and what's your plan?"

3.  Trust

Trust needs to be earned, but also requires some faith.  In a leadership position you need to grant some trust in order to start the chain.  With follow-through and execution, trust will build.  It's only a matter of time until you can finish each other's sentences. 

4.  Recognition

When a job is well done, don't skimp on recognizing the team.  Highlight small wins and big wins all along the way.  Look for those folks who aren't inclined to shout about their accomplishments.  Make sure the management team stays in touch with what is happening and shares good news – not just the crises.

5.  A Sense of Humor

Stress affects people differently.  I, for one, need an environment where laughter exists.  If everyone is so heads down focused without time for a good practical joke, to laugh at ourselves or share some good project humor, I'm not interested.  Projects can be tedious, lighten up!

What other means would you recommend for building a solid and committed team?  What things do you remember most about good teams you have been a part of?  What made them "click"?