This guest post is by Amy Porterfield of AmyPorterfield.com.
When it came to building my business with social media, I lived by the motto, “More is better.” I applied every social media strategy I learned, stacking plan after plan and idea after idea.
Then I read Tim Ferriss’ new book. And everything changed.
With Tim’s 4-Hour Body, I realized I was a sucker to yet another myth in my head just like I was when I was little and my mom used to tell me I couldn’t swim for an hour after I ate or I would lose my lunch.
In his book, Tim talks about a concept called the minimum effective dose. He says the minimum effective dose is the smallest dose (a.k.a. activity) that will produce your desired outcome. In real-life terms, it’s that sweet spot that is exactly enough, no more, no less, that gets the results you’re after. It’s that place where you can achieve the most dramatic results in the least amount of time possible. Anything beyond that point is a waste of your time.
Tim uses the example of boiled water. Boiled water is boiled water. There’s no such thing as “more boiled.” Make sense? Or if you go to the beach and you spend 15 minutes in the sun, you get a tan. But anything beyond those 15 minutes and maybe you start to burn. Once you pass a certain point, you actually can create setbacks. Essentially, doing too much can trip you up.
Then it hits me: with social media marketing, more is not better. In fact, more is worse.
Whether you are using social media to gain greater exposure for your blog, build awareness for a product or sell your services, it’s natural to want to do all you can to get results. But did you know that when you do too much, you could actually halt real progress? In fact, when you try to do too much, it can mess up your momentum and cost you profits and valuable relationships in your business.
How does this relate to your success?
To apply the minimum effective dose to your social media efforts, you first have to realize what may be a dirty truth: you’re trying to do too much.
At some point, we’ve all been there—we try to be everything to everyone and make promises we can’t keep, schedule meetings on top of meetings and start new projects that never get finished. It’s human nature. The challenge is that when we take on too much, there’s no time to think things out—and you begin executing in a bubble, ignoring your intuition and making decisions that lack creativity and strategy.
The problem scenario: the social media junkie
One of my most recent clients was a self-proclaimed social media junkie. When it came to online networking, she did anything and everything to boost her online exposure. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging, YouTube, FriendFeed, shiny new social apps, networking gadgets, widgets and tools, you name it, she was all over it. And if a new social media strategy was discovered, she was ready to implement at any time.
Not only was she overwhelmed, confused and stressed, but also she was not seeing results. After a few coaching sessions we discovered that her audience was not using Twitter, and rarely checked into their LinkedIn accounts. She instantly quit wasting her time on these networks.
Also, although she loved making videos, and hated writing blog posts, she was producing several written blogs posts a week because she thought the “hard work” would pay off. Since she was not confident with her writing, each post would take her three to five hours. The misconception that she needed to post multiple times a week was costing her time and money. After monitoring her blog we learned that her audience responded better to video blogs vs. written blogs. She stopped the written blog posts immediately and now posts videos multiple times a week, each taking her about 30 minutes to record, edit, and post.
She was doing too much and was completely sabotaging her success. When she took a step back and stopped “doing,” she was able to see what was working and what was a waste of time. This insight was not clear until she finally stopped “doing” and stepped back to assess the situation.
The solution: create more white space
Harvard Business Review recently published an article called, This Space Intentionally Left White. To get an edge on the competition, the author suggests we “slow down to see more.” She goes on to say that we need to “radically alter a small moment of time each week—to schedule a time for doing nothing but thinking—and pay attention to what emerges in the absence of the noise of our normal activity.”
When you slow down and think about your next steps, things get a lot clearer. You are able to see the pockets of opportunity—and that is where your sweet spot, that minimum effective dose, starts to become more apparent. Setting time for the white space allows you to uncover the areas where you are doing too much and wasting your time—and easier, more strategic opportunities come to the surface.
Are you mired in too much? Make it a habit to find two hours a week where you do nothing but think, not do. No multi-tasking, no emails, no cell phones, no journaling. Just you and your thoughts. Think about where you come up with your best ideas—in the shower, or listening to music in the car—it’s when you’re likely doing an automated activity that allows you to just think.
And next time you get that overwhelming urge to take on yet another project, remember this myth buster: more is not better, it’s just more. Choose your best dose instead—the minimum effective one.
Amy is the co-author of Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies and a social media strategist for entrepreneurs and small business owners. You can read her weekly blog here and check out her latest program, The Simple Social Media Formula, .