How to be a social media doer


I've always thought of myself as a doer. When other people are meeting and planning, I close my door, press mute and do things. For me doing means listening, experimenting, responding and writing - and it's nice to be recognized for what you do.

I mention this because The Silicon Valley Watcher blog has published a subset of Jeremiah Owyang's long list of Enterprise Social Media professionals. The shortened list highlights "Social Media Doers," and my name appears on the list.

First, I have to say that I'm only one of dozens (maybe hundreds) of Social Media doers here at SAS. Within the last year, we've had many SAS country offices and entire divisions start to realize the benefits of adding social media elements to their work flows and marketing campaigns. Dave Thomas, the primary author of this blog, has written a handy "social media cook book" to provide guidance for everyone at SAS who wants to do more in social media.

Dave's cook book includes ten or so chapters on blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media staples. But I wanted to provide my top three tips here for anyone who wants to start doing social media. They are:

  1. Write a blog. Stop putting it off. If you don't have time to manage and edit your own blog, find a blog in your area that publishes posts from guest contributors. Blogging will give you a home base where you can send people who want to know more about how you think and what level of expertise you can offer.
  2. Comment on blogs. This is the one piece of advice I give over & over & over again. If you're not reading what other people have to say and taking the effort to respond, it's unlikely anyone is going to take the time to read what you have to say. Commenting on blogs is the single best way to drive reliable traffic to your own blog. Lately I've been giving our SAS bloggers a one-comment a day challenge. Even if you're just saying, "Great post, I enjoyed reading it," the practice will make it easier to comment when you have something more substantial to say later.
  3. Reply on Twitter. Twitter is not just a broadcast channel. Engagement there is important for the same reason it is on blogs. The point is to get to know your followers and understand how they think, so when you do provide content it's more of what they'll like. One problem I have with Twitter is that it's so easy to plop in and tweet a link, that I sometimes forget it's a conversation tool. When I saw that happening lately, I set a new rule for myself that I've been following regularly: Don't even open Twitter or Tweet Deck unless you have time to reply to at least one person.

Speaking of rules, here's another one I set for myself about commenting: Don't Tweet or bookmark an article unless you've commented on it first. For some reason, I started to feel safe tweeting articles and had forgotten that the real value is in the comment streams. Now I remind myself: If it's worth a tweet, it's worth a comment. Take the time to comment first, and then close the loop with a tweet.

So that's what I've been doing lately. What about you? Do you have tips for doers? Do you set rules for yourself that help you accomplish your own goals in social media?

photo by Studio 494 / CC by SA 2.0


About Author

Alison Bolen

Editor of Blogs and Social Content

+Alison Bolen is an editor at SAS, where she writes and edits content about analytics and emerging topics. Since starting at SAS in 1999, Alison has edited print publications, Web sites, e-newsletters, customer success stories and blogs. She has a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from Ohio University and a master’s degree in technical writing from North Carolina State University.


  1. Kristine Vick on

    Alison, great post! I really enjoyed the class you hosted on blogs recently as well, and I am working on being more of a doer! Thanks for the reminder and for keeping us on track! On a related note, I've shared your "rule" with colleagues and friends and it is very well received! Thanks for all you do to inspire us!

  2. Diane Lennox on

    You stopped me cold! I was about to tweet this great post, but couldn't do it without thanking you for the reminder to engage on people's platforms -- blogs or other -- rather than merely passing along links. Now can I tweet?

  3. Good question, Jessica. Currently it's an internal-only document at SAS, but we're talking about making some updates and turning it into a public e-book. If we do, blog readers here will be the first to know!

  4. Michele Reister on

    Great stuff, Alison. I will accept your one-comment per day challenge, starting now. Congratulations on making the doer list. You deserve it.

  5. This is a great post from a true doer. I think you have hit the nail right on the head: Commenting is the one thing I see the least of on Twitter. When I see a tweet, I'm interested in a person's impression of the article, not just the title and URL. I assume that is true for others too, so my tweets and retweets usually include a reason for you to click through. Thanks for prompting me to comment in the article too.

  6. Kelly Duffort on

    Congrats on the "Social Media Doers" recognition! I don't really blog and I don't read all that many blogs due to not enough time in the day. However, when "Social Media at SAS" appears in my Inbox, I usually make time for it and I always learn something.

  7. Justin Huntsman on

    In an effort to associate myself with greatness, I'll say that Alison is truly a 'doer.' She has added an incommunicable amount of value to the various projects I've sought her advice on. Keep leading by example Alison - and continue offering your wisdom to the rest of us. I'm going to go tweet this now...

  8. This is so true. I am just a budding blogger and I have already seen the importance of interaction and building relationships. Social media is not just about promotion, it's about building a relationship.

  9. Michelle Spencer on

    Great blog and some good ideas here. I am very guilty of just retweeting and really do need to add comment too so will definitely set myself the goal of doing this daily rather than just retweeting. I think making the SAS social media cookbook public would be a great idea - there is so little really good reading on this available at the moment.

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