Putting Social Media Before Your Health?

October 25, 2008

Social Media

Image courtesy of Flickr user hiyori13

Image courtesy of Flickr user hiyori13

As I mentioned in my last post, one of the key success factors to deploying social media in an organization is that someone is “a champion.” Personally, I’m living this every single day at Booz Allen – people from across my company are constantly asking for a presentation on social media at their all-hands meetings, I get calls to go brief clients on the power of social media, I get hundreds of emails from people asking me for my advice on something to do with social media, I give dozens of briefings at external events, and answer any and all questions from my colleagues. Most of all, I get tired.  Very.  Tired.

This fact – working long hours and getting very tired is a staple of every single successful implementation of social media at a large organization. There’s always that core group of passionate social media enthusiasts who will go above and beyond to make social media successful – from spending their own money to create social media rewards to volunteering their time to function as an ad hoc help desk.  That group usually consists of anywhere between 1-10 people, depending on the size of the organization, and that core group HAS to be the most passionate users.  They are more than just change champions, they are the de facto social media help desk, the “gurus,” and the intellectual capital leaders – they ARE social media at their organization.  This passion creates a domino effect – people start following these leaders and the core group begins expanding and expanding until it slowly sweeps across the organization. I, like Andrea Baker explained in my last post, have been inspired by Gary V to keep pushing, to keep advocating in what I believe, and to remain completely and overwhelmingly passionate about it. This approach has proven to be incredibly beneficial to my organization’s social media efforts and to my career.

But at what cost?  I left work early today because my eyes, sinuses, and head were killing me. I realized that over the last few months, that’s happened to me a lot more often that it used to. I’m taking more sick days. I’m finding myself completely drained by Friday afternoon that I don’t even want to go out. I’m spending less and less time with my family and friends as more of my time is now taken up with building our firm’s social media capability.  I don’t have the time to spend just going out to lunch with my team because I’ve always got some sort of meeting.  I’m working 12-14 hours a day, and I know that it’s not healthy for me to sustain this, I don’t know if there’s anything that I can give up and still be confident that our social media capability will continue to grow.  Is this one reason why some social media implementations succeed and others fail – their core group of passionate users doesn’t expand resulting in the the core group burning themselves out or giving up?

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts – do you find yourselves in a similar situation?  Take this very short and very informal and unscientific survey and let me know what you think.  I’ll keep you updated with any interesting results that I find.

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About sradick

I'm Vice President, Director of Public Relations at Brunner in Pittsburgh. Find out more about me here (http://steveradick.com/about/).

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  • Adam R.

    You’re right that this is a “necessary evil” of a new social media/enterprise 2.0 campaign. Because it’s not about the tools. It’s about connecting people in a new way. And that’s probably one of the most difficult things to do. But does it mean draining a core group before the end of the first year of implementation? There’s got to be a better way!

    What if those initial ten folks were to share and spread their enthusiasm, gathering more individuals into the fold? After a short while, the core should naturally grow and perhaps even shift away from the original members. Working on somewhat of a rotation basis, the responsibility to garden, train/demo, and provide tech support would be dispersed over a larger community. Which is exactly the point, right?

    If I sound utopic and unreasonable, it’s only because I wish that I could be more participative in hello.bah.com and Intelink outside of work. But with a wife and three small children, I’m already at capacity!

  • @Adam – you’re absolutely right, and I’m getting there…just slowly! I think that the focus on billable hours at a contracting firm adds yet another hurdle. Plus, you bring up an excellent point – your decision shouldn’t have to be “wife and three small children” vs. “social media.” That’s a choice that social media is going to lose every time! Let’s think of ways to make do both!