I love spring and summer.  I love sleeping with the windows open and hearing the birds in the morning.  I love waking up at 5:30 to go out in my garden to water the flowers, skim leaves out of the water fountains, making sure the water levels are up, and frequently planting a new potted plant that I found the night before.  I even enjoy pulling a few weeds here and there.  My husband asks, “Is the garden ever finished?”  I try to help him see that a great garden is a daily commitment.  It is never finished, it just keeps getting better and better.

Growing your social community is a lot like a garden.  It takes a daily commitment to do the work each day.  You will need to check on your relationships, nurture a few that are wilting and even pull a few weeds each day.  Too many people want the beautiful garden without doing the work.  Those are the people who end up buying fake plants or paying someone to come each week to do the work for them.  Let's take a peek into both of those Social Media Gardens:

Buying fake plants is the same as those who jump into the social media arena and connect with thousands of people that they have nothing in common with or that they really have no interest in conversing with.  They just want the appearance of a big garden.  Take a look at the “FOLLOWER” list of some people and you will see it filled with spammers, porn accounts and the default Twitter bird picture that shows it is most likely a spam account.  Now look at the profile page of that gardener and you will find one way conversations that are most likely automated.  Little if any @replies to people because this gardener is simply focused on sticking more fake flowers in the dirt.

While there is nothing wrong with paying for a little help, and who wouldn't want a gardener to come and help make your garden look its best each week, BUT you have to be careful that the gardener doesn't take over your vision or your garden might end up looking like Disneyland with sculpted Mini and Mickey in the front yard!  There are tools that can help you automate SOME of your social media chores, but you still have to get out in the garden to nurture the relationships each day.  An example of a problem that can arise when you replace your presence in the garden with automation, is posting Facebook PAGE updates using fabulous tools like TweetDeck, Hootsuite or any other third-party tool and not paying attention to comments or questions that might be posted.  You will not always see comments or questions unless you walk through the Facebook Page garden.

If you are going to hire someone to help you, be sure you don't abandon the garden.  There's just no way around the fact that SOCIAL media tools are still about the SOCIAL!  Without the daily work, all of the time and effort you put in to start your garden will return nothing but weeds.

Here are 4 tips to simplify your work in the garden.

1. Start with a plan. What kind of content will you be providing? Who is the community that you will be connecting with?

2. Log in to each of your sites each morning. Welcome newcomers, provide value to your community, respond to questions or comments. Be social.

3. Use automated tools (TweetDeck, Hootsuite, etc) to schedule posts for regular events or tips that you provide.

4. Take time to enjoy your garden- post fun content – recognize loyal followers- show your personality!

What are your tips to keeping a beautiful social media garden?  Share them here with other gardeners!

@GinaSchreck

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