Dear Business: Get Over the Social Media Hump

August 23rd, 2013 | Shonali Burke | 16 Comments

Bactrian camel When we changed the WUL publishing schedule (again), I thought writing an original post once a week would be easy enough.

Image: richardghawley via Flickr, CC 2.0

The truth is, it isn’t.

Over the last several months – actually, couple of years – I have seen and experienced exactly what small business owners, business people, and basically any “regular” person feels when they are told they need to get with social media. That’s when they give anyone mentioning blogging / tweeting / Facebooking / Pinteresting / whatevering a withering stare, much as Medusa must have been in the process of giving Perseus as he beheaded her.

This is not your chance to jump all over me for hatin’ on SM. I’m not. I’m extremely aware of and grateful for all that it has done for me, personally and professionally. But you can’t take away from the fact that it takes a friggin’ cr@pload of time.

T. I. M. E.

That most people don’t have when they are juggling kids, doing the dishes, walking the dogs, trying to make ends meet, trying to meet sales projections, caring for a loved one, falling sick, getting well, keeping up with client work, getting their hearts broken, falling in love, paying the bills, paying their taxes, looking for work,

… and really, in the middle of all that, we expect them to drop one-to-two hours a day on “social media”?!

They don’t have the time for this!

No one does, unless they are consultants (yes, I realize what I just said), or work at companies where they are paid to be on Twitter all day (yes, I realize what I just said), or have enough minions around that they can gad about on SM… and in this last category, I will say are some very dedicated people I know who have done a remarkable job of building their businesses so that they can actually have minions.

Perhaps it was inevitable I would experience this when I re-entered the “real” world after a few years (as some of you might remember). And it was extremely uncomfortable. I’ve since exited that particular “real” world, only to realize that when you are one person doing almost everything, it still doesn’t change. It’s tiring and a bit of a heavy realization for someone who has been so enamored of social for so long.

Can’t you just hear it:

“I’m sorry, social, it’s not you, it’s me… but really, it’s you.”

The thing is, I haven’t, and won’t give up social. Because outside of the fact that it has brought me into contact with wonderful people like Lisa Gerber, and Ken Jacobs, and Sean Williams, and Mary Barber, and Deirdre Breakenridge, and Richard Bagnall, and Joe Hackman, and Gini Dietrich, and Brian Meeks, and Shel Israel (disclosure: client), and… too many to name!…

… the fact is that it makes business sense.

A while back I wrote about Streak, the Chrome plugin I’m currently using to manage my business development process (such as it is). One of the things I did was set up a column to track the origin of leads; did they come from a personal connection, social media, former client, etc.

And while social isn’t leading the pack, it has enough of an impact that I can’t cut it out. If it’s not direct leads that come via social, it’s leads via speaking engagements that come via social, or referrals that come because of social, or new connections because of social…

So I would be cutting off my nose to spite my face if I were to just quit social altogether, because of how tired and stressed I am over business and other stuff. Because then where would my business (and, therefore, me) go?

Me so sleepy…

Part of my tiredness and stress comes from simply being a very hard worker, and those of you who are the same will identify. Part of it comes from having to wear many hats as an SBO (small business owner), and again, those of you who are SBOs will identify. Part of it comes from other areas in my life, spilling over into the work arena.

So. If you’re a small business owner reading this, who just doesn’t have the time for social, who regards it in the same light as an enema, I get it. Believe me, I really get it. I mean, I drafted this post at 10:30 pm ET last Saturday, when I should either have been living it up or sleeping!


In my opinion, none of these are good excuses for giving up on social. My stress management (or lack thereof) is my problem. Working hard is great, but perhaps I need to do better at letting go of what doesn’t need to be perfect. And perhaps I need to delegate more, or stop taking on work that needs me and only me to do it.

None of these are problems related to social media. They are problems (if they are, indeed, problems) that I’m creating on my own, perhaps unintentionally, and that I have to learn how to fix.

So while I let myself give in to tiredness when I need to, and cut back on the time I spend online when I need to (and these days, there’s a lot of that!), for the most part I’ve gotten over the social media hump.

And you need to as well.

Shonali Burke
Head honcho of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke is President & CEO of Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. Based in the Washington, D.C., area, she loves helping for- and non-profit clients, both small and large, turn corporate codswallop into community cool™. She also loves ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke

Latest posts by Shonali Burke (see all)

Print Friendly
Opt In Image

"A Little Birdie Told Me" could fly into your inbox just once a month. It's Shonali-as-seen-nowhere-else. What're you waiting for?


This is a great post! I missed it earlier because I was out sick.. because I worked too hard, didn't sleep enough and a germ took me down. While I was offline, in between nose blowings, I was stunned to realize the world didn't come crashing down because I was out!

Shonali, we - and everyone commenting on and mentioned in this post - have been around long enough to see many social media high fliers come and go. Often, I can remember wishing those people hadn't burned themselves out...that I would prefer infrequent posts from them than none at all. Now I realize, this is us. :-)

Not only do we want things perfect, as you and Gini note, but many of us put so much pressure on ourselves around *volume.*  Yes, maybe we'll get more eyeballs the more we do, but that's quite the hamster wheel -- whether you have a team behind you or not. Since there's no limit to how much we can do on social media, we just have to set realistic boundaries for our sanity.

Lisa Gerber
Lisa Gerber

10:30 at night?!?!? I couldn't fathom writing a post at night. Nights are for sleepytime. :)

And I hear you. In fact, im late to this post because i was actually offline all weekend. Lately, I log into FB for a brain break only to find there is nothing good on, but blogging and social are second lead generators to word of mouth, so there you have it.


I just finished reading Lean In. One of the things she talks about is the mantra they have Facebook: It doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be finished. This is really good advice for people like you (and me) who want things perfect to the detriment of just getting them complete. 

That said, I feel the social media drain, too. Just today I said I'm quitting the Internet for the day. It is exhausting and there are about a gazillion other things that take priority. BUT I track all of our new business referral sources and social media is number three. So it's worth the time and energy. You just have to learn how to take the good with the exhaustion. 


Feeling your pain. It's been nice having that ABCs of Leadership series to fall back on - and get at least one post out each week. However, I still try to create an original one each week, and I owe a few people some guest posts (look for another one on Spin Sucks late next week).

Also been a little distracted with our corporate website redesign. Hopefully, the new one goes out next Monday - and it includes a corporate blog. That means I'll be acting as editor for other authors, and I'm trying to get at least one post/week out of my stable of thought leaders. They may be thought leaders, but not all of them are enamored with becoming writers. ;)  But the site is going to be SO.MUCH.BETTER!

Great to know you, Shonali, and I look forward to stopping by WUL at least a couple times per week.


Shonali, clearly you are reading the wrong books. There are hundreds (millions?) of books, blogs, white papers, ebooks, infographics, ... that break down in detail how to be the grand poobah of social media for your business in anywhere between 5 minutes and 15 minutes a day. 1 to 2 hours a day? Crazy talk. Once your social media money machine is running, you won't work, in total, for 2 hours a day!

Ok, snark is over. I've wondered how you have been, glad to hear that less blogging and social media time just means you are busy. We'll have to carve out an opportunity to say hello for real, you know, between the time spent doing real work, family time, keeping social media barely alive, ... :)

-- Eric


@psgcom Well, I think you're ahead of most people. ;) Happy Friday!

Shonali moderator

@ginidietrich I'm learning to not be perfect... and, in fact, that I'm not, LOL! But you - I honestly don't know how you do it. I'm starting to become very demanding about my sleep and "off" time... because if I don't have that/don't feel strong and good, I can't work. 

I also think it's different when you're one person as opposed to an agency head, and I'm sure you remember what it was like to be "me." But there are still things that only *you* can do, even though you have a staff... right?

Shonali moderator

@dbvickery Do you find that having a series is helpful, or does it stress you out too? As in, OMG, I have this series to finish... I guess for me, having some stability helps, but I find that when I have a lot going on, it's equally stressful to try and come up with a post around a specific topic or series.

I mean, look at how late I replied to your comment. That just goes to show, doesn't it? I haven't been by your place, or Gini's, or Lisa's, or so many others, in forever. And I hate that I haven't been able to, but I've just been so wrapped up in "stuff" that I'm exhausted when I'm not.

Congrats on the new site! Are you happy with it now?


@Shonali Creating the series can be stressful. And it is much better if it is a 3-5 part series. When I created that ABCs of Leadership series, it was 26 posts!

And I had to find 12 great leadership adjectives for each letter...then come up with 12 "what not to be" for each letter. It was brutal!

I absolutely LOVE our new website. The blog content will be a lot more technical than what a lot of my readers will be interested in, but I hope our ideal target clients get value out of it. Besides, I want my own readers to know that I'm not just about Pulse Analytics and social media monitoring. Mantis does SO much more, and I finally have a site that best conveys our message!

Latest blog post: paloalto


  1. […] of time to become an entrepreneur (to put it lightly). I tell you all of this because when I read Shonali Burke’s post “Dear Business: Get Over the Social Media Hump” I was laughing and crying at the same […]

  2. […] am using it because I want to – not because my boss told me to. I want connections, not follower numbers. It has been fun and rewarding, and I have met some […]