Midway through this summer I hit the STFU button on all of my social media channels. It was part AH HA moment and part “what and I going to do with the rest of my life.” I was having some renewed success with my blog, I had started stirring clients up again for my consulting business, but… I had to STOP and take a breath and re-evaluate what I was doing it for. My Big Question: What was THIS BLOG, UBER.LA about and why had I sunk three years and several novels worth of writing into something so fluid and temporary?
It took awhile for the answer to emerge. And I waited. And it was hard. Not tweeting was sometimes harder than trying to figure out what to tweet. Facebook was easy, I was tired of the “activity.” And the blog was fallow. I became more still. My blog traffic numbers and Klout score dipped towards “beginner” status again. But I could not formulate the easy answer to my question. I am not extremely patient. But I learned to be more so over the rest of July and August. FB friends started posting on my wall, “Where did you go?” and “I miss your rants, come back to social media.” It was encouraging, but I was against the idea until I understood my own desire to write. (Is this too much shoe gazing? Perhaps I’m doing it again.)
And the answer came during some heated conversations with a friend.
I was still whining, “I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know if I believe in this social media stuff. I don’t know what value I can provide with all this writing.”
“Quit being negative,” he said.
I took down about 1/3 of my critic posts. I decided to offer solutions rather than just the easy criticism. And I was going to keep my tone positive and constructive. As I told my son recently, “I like the building games rather than the shooting or destroying games.”
So I decided to be a builder. I would put more effort into giving people solutions they could use immediately, and not with a “social media strategist” at their side. I started producing free videos and challenged myself to keep the “teachable moment” to less than two minutes. And I retagged my blog from the several etherial maxims to “social media strategies by john mcelhenney.” And finally I killed all the personal sharing posts, all the stuff that would be fine for Facebook, but had nothing to do with social media. I had an audience, but it wasn’t for my personal struggles and self-examination. The 85% First-Time Visitors to this site are looking for usable information on social media for business.
And that’s it. That’s what I’ve become. At least here. There are other places you can find songs, and occasional personal notes, but UBER.LA became unalloyed and clear. And the writing began to flow again. And now, at the end of January 2012, I can say the traffic is back and the consulting opportunities are becoming more frequent. All because of a moment of silence. Followed by a question. And then an answer that changed everything.
FINAL NOTE: Look at the photos on your phone. Look at the fb posts and tweets you’ve contributed to the interwebz conversation in the last year. Do you see any patterns? Do you dwell in the constructive or destructive perspective?
It is worth listening to yourself. You make the choice about how and what you want to contribute to those around you. You are powerful. Your voice has influence and resonance with others. Even if they don’t respond or tell you. I think most people on the web are listening (lurking?) and fewer are sharing. Decide what you want to share and do it with intention. And then listen to the response or lack of response.
And in the last two days these two SHARES have been on my mind. Continuously contributing to the smile on my face and in my thinking. This is what I’m talking about.
and from a friend who was in church this morning…
*share courtesy of Elijah May
There is a happy side to getting a Hot Wheels car put in your coffee while you are at church. And this person got it, shared it, and then I shared it too.
Positive vibes are contagious, like viral, so pass them on. And see if your stream could be a bit more “constructive.”