Fast Company recently published an article called The 10 Commandments of Social Media, which basically amounted to "Blog, Tweet, Podcast, Monitor, Social-Network, and Comment all day every day". While I appreciate that this may be the ideal, it is simply not feasible for many people.

Among the most common objections to social media that I've heard from busy executives are: "We're just too busy to blog" and "We've tried Twitter but the inane banter is a waste of time".  Even though they may appreciate the benefits of using social media, their days are simply not structured to support it.

So,  given that I face a similar dilemma,  I've thought of three simple tips to help busy people get into and use social media efficiently and effectively.

1. Know what you want to achieve. In business, this might, for example, be to rank highly for a particular keyword in Google; to build your professional reputation; to share your insights and get feedback on them, or to raise awareness about your work. Whatever you seek to achieve with your blog, keep that top of mind and you will be more motivated to blog and more efficient in selecting topics to write about.

2. Share practical tips. The ideal of social media - what the best blogs have going on for them - is an ongoing conversation with a community of readers. This requires regular posting, so is not practically achievable for most. So the shortcut way is to create content of more enduring value, such as tips that your market would find interesting; lists of useful resources or websites; pieces of research; and anything else that would reward people for subscribing to your content or visiting your blog (albeit irregularly). This will help you become a search-engine favourite, or a useful reference aid for people looking for advice related to your topic.

3. Comment when you read. If you've taken the time out to read an article, blog post, or tweet, then it's worthwhile to spend a moment extra to leave a comment on what you've read. For one thing, you will link your comment back to your own website, and secondly it is likely to create a bit of goodwill with the author or other readers. Comments are a great way to enhance your online profile easily.

Lastly, remember that what you put online stays online and can add enduring value. Each contribution you make to the web under your own name can be thought of as a stepping stone in the path you're building to your goal. 10 minutes a day really is better than nothing, and it can really help you on your way.
AuthorDave Duarte
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Some of the regular visitors to this blog may have noticed that I have posted progressively less over the last 6 months. Recently my posting has almost come to a standstill. There's a lot behind this, which I've been trying to make sense of.

In short, it comes down to a sense of frustration I'm having with the amount of information I seem to have to deal with before anything actually gets done. As an example, besides spam, I get around 80 emails a day, all of which seem to require an urgent response. This is not good for someone who spends most of his time out the office working with groups. It basically means that most of my time in the office is split between dealing with email, and reading news so I can stay in touch with industry trends and innovations. This leaves very little time to spend working with my colleagues (at Huddlemind, Creative Commons and Muti) on important stuff like strategy. All this information feels like it's paralysing me!

In fact, this sense has sat with me for a while, and it's the primary reason why I've been so drawn to the study and practice of "Attention Economics".

So, regarding my blog...

Someone Has Already Said It

Perhaps the main reason I haven't been posting is because, quite honestly, everything I can think of saying has already been said by someone else online. And its not often that I have felt I could say it better.

For those who are interested in what I recommend reading, or what I find interesting, I would like to introduce you to my Diigo links which you can see in the sidebar on the right. There are some superb finds there, and they're all sorted by topic/tag.

I feel so full up with other people's information that there's barely enough space for me to form my own insights and share them.

Experiences vs Information

Maya Angelou once said: "People will forget what you tell them, but will never forget how you make them feel".

For people, like me, who believe that our Attention is increasingly scarce and valuable today, there is a cost attached to each new piece of information that we consume. Information consumes Attention. Despite my knowledge and understanding of "Attention Economics", I've been spendthrift with my own Attention. Now I have a bit of a deficit to deal with - each waking moment is currently spent processing the information I've amassed, at the expense of the experiences and interactions I could be having.

Information, by the way, is inherent in everything. It's just that we have come to prioritize encoded information - in the form of writing, sounds, and video - over real-world, information - in the form of experiences.

Reading and Writing

When I first started blogging, I enjoyed the sense of personal discovery through public disclosure. However, at some point the blogging became more about building an audience than about sharing ideas.

I can say the same about live chat, email, and meetings. My initial experience of these filled me with delight in the process of sharing ideas. They all now seem more like an obligation than a priviledge.

So in my attempt to reclaim my own sense of daily delight in my work and online pursuits, I am cutting down on all these attention traps, drastically. In their place, I hope to clear some space to experience and to reflect more, and to allow my own insights to emerge.

As my esteemed friend, Joe Botha, has said: "The true breakfast of champions is a low information diet".
AuthorDave Duarte
12 CommentsPost a comment
Amazing Marketing MachineThe clever chaps at Springleap have come up with another killer idea to engage SA bloggers and drive lots of signups to their new site. It's called Blogger Warz, where each month two prominent SA bloggers are pitted against each other to get the most votes for their t-shirt designs.

I'm up against Mike Stopforth (with his design called "Fit-Shan") in the first round. The design I submitted was done my my talented illustrator friend, Ryno Van Niekerk. It's called "The Amazing Marketing Machine".

The story that goes with the design is as follows:

A mashup of potent technological innovations, The Amazing Marketing Machine will help any marketer be more intelligent, more playful, more out-of-this world! But if you didn’t know that you might just think it was a pile of junk. Ironic huh?

If you dig it, please go and vote it up on Springleap HERE (note, you need to register). Some lucky people might even get the opportunity to wear this awesome design if we win.
AuthorDave Duarte
In response to my blog post on Friday, I just got an email from Siobahn at WOMWorld who represents Nokia in the social-media space:
We saw that in a recent blog post you enjoyed the Stavros site that's currently running and that you'd like an N82. Currently we have N82's available
for test and review, and would be more than happy to send you one if
you are interested in putting the device through its paces.

We take care of the logistics side of things, will arrange for the
device to be sent and collected etc, if you?d like to get involved let
us know as soon as you can and we?ll get everything arranged.

I look forward to getting my N82, and am feeling large amounts of goodwill towards these people right now.
AuthorDave Duarte
CategoriesWOM, blogging
13 CommentsPost a comment
Did you see this week's Spit & Polish in The Sunday Times? In it, Barry Ronge eloquently lamented the subversive power of bloggers on Box Office takings - often to the detriment of great films.

He mentions an interview with the Mike Nichols, Director of The Golden Compass, a film which suffered, and failed, at the hands of fundamentalist Christian bloggers who denounced it as a "gospel for Atheists":
Nichols [speculated] about how the Internet has become a determining factor in Hollywood’s choice of the movies they make and also the style in which they are made, because producers now have to please the blogosphere or fail.

Nichols expressed it precisely. “It’s a whole new critical world out there. I am all for everyone having a voice,� he said. “I just don’t think everyone has earned the microphone. And that’s what the Internet has done. It has given everyone the microphone, saying ‘Get a load off your chest’. Inevitably, the angriest or most outrageous voices get the attention.

Sadly, it's not usually the most erudite arguments that get the most Attention online, it's those that are most sensational and easiest to spread.

The challenge to South African marketers will be to engage and form relationships with the influential bloggers here, and to build relationships so that their story can be represented objectively ahead of the eminent flood of opinion that is going to be unleashed on them soon.

For bloggers, it's important to acknowledge the responsibility that comes with an audience.

We can't regulate the blogosphere, but we can be a more intelligent community by embracing fundamental journalistic principles.
AuthorDave Duarte
6 CommentsPost a comment
A few months ago, I unsubscribed from most of the content feeds that I was getting from hundreds of blogs around business, marketing, and new-media. I kept a few though, and on reflection these were all ones that had posts that were:

  • Researched;

  • Had its facts checked;

  • Considered from all angles; and

  • Well organized.

This keeps things useful, and saves me time and attention because I come to trust the source enough not to have to go checking for references and other opinions all over the place.

Just because it's a blog, doesn't mean you should ramble. As Bolton would say: Simple!
AuthorDave Duarte