Social Media ROI, Money, and Burnout

Category: Weekly Columns

I’m beginning to wonder about my ROI for all the time I spend on Social Media. The money earned and spent is also a question. I don’t have any questions about the satisfaction, pleasure, and knowledge I’ve gained via Social Media or the amazing relationships that I’ve made. Some have remained virtual, in that I’ve had no real life or even phone exchanges with these virtual friends. But, others have blossomed in real life when we got to meet at conferences or just for coffee or lunch.

However, after several years of learning the ropes, beginning with simply writing a newspaper column that became a syndicated blog, and moving on to Facebook, Twitter, and my own websites, I did hit a wall. A wall of doubt that the value received and, hopefully, the value dispensed, was equal to the incredible time commitment.

I even hit a sort of burnout with one of my favorite methods of connection – commenting on other blogs. Until I hit that wall, I was regularly making 10-25 comments or more per day, every day. A few weeks ago, I just stopped.

Since then, I’ve resumed commenting, hitting a purgatory of emotions regarding my work, my income, and my commitment to all the forms of connections I was employing. I even hit an emotional wall in which my generally upbeat mood has diminished to the point of not recognizing myself.

Some of these feelings may be related to simultaneous events going on within my work and family lives. My first-born is going to college this fall – a very expensive college. I began a serious review of my work life and have employed a team to assist me in monetizing my efforts, which were, up to this point, random and without concern for financial return.

To some degree, they will remain “random,” as I like it that way and I’ve been fortunate enough – due to income from my previous career – to have some choices. But, there is also my male ego. Just the other night at #DadChat, a highlight of every week, I found myself getting so frustrated when one of our two co-host’s tweets were inexplicably not showing up in our stream.

We were missing his contributions and wisdom. From a business standpoint, #DadChat was completely losing his statistical value. It seemed a lose-lose and I found myself getting overly exorcised by it. Just the week before we hit substantial #DadChat success and probably Tweet Chat records when Guy Kawasaki was the co-host. The chat ended up being still terrific and generated excellent participation and ultimately fine stats! So, why was I getting so uptight over a technical glitch that ultimately didn’t really mean much?

I think the answer is simple. We all want ROI and validation. For all the time and effort I’d put into building #DadChat, this particular glitch was severely impacting this one night’s success – or so I was thinking in the moment!  The topic of this #DadChat, in which one of the hosts was MIA (in the stream), was Effective Communication. One of the offshoot discussions involved what language of love we each relied upon and “spoke.” This was motivated when a reference to “The Five Language of Love” by Gary Chapman came up. For me, it is without a doubt, “Words of Affirmation.” For my wife, it’s a combination of “Quality Time” and “Gifts Received.” Knowing these things have helped us better communicate. So, for me getting good response to a column, my radio show, vlog, comic, or #DadChat is just that sort of affirmation.

For most people, dare I say men maybe even a bit more; your income is a form of validation. And, that is where I’m also hitting a wall emotionally. It’s too soon to make any pronouncements about the success or failure of my new management team’s efforts, along with my applying our ideas to my daily work. Time will tell and I will re-assess at the end of this year.

Regardless, I will not compromise my values, my core beliefs, or my work ethic, under any circumstances. But, maybe I will have to make some adjustments in how I distribute my time. Maybe I need to avoid another comment or possible Social Media burnout by taking regular time off each week? After the minor fiasco of #DadChat that Thursday evening, I took the rest of the night off and didn’t return to my computer until noon the following day. Not much of a respite you might say, but it was an eternity to me given my usual daily routines.

We all need a break. We all need to feel reward for our efforts, whether they’re words of affirmation or income – or both. What are your thoughts on this general and rambling subject as you navigate the constantly changing world of Social Media?


  • Josie – @sparechaos

    I have been known to get social media burnout as well. It’s too much. you have to comment on everyones blog. Each comment has to be unique even if their topics are the same and so on.

    There are days that I simply go on twitter to connect with people. I don’t read any blogs or pay attention to any new topics. I just sit back and hang out with the people. That way I still feel connected, but I don’t feel like everything is all business

    • Bruce Sallan

      Wow Josie – yours is the FASTEST comment ever after I’ve posted! TYVM. I’m glad I’m not alone in these feelings!

  • Canadian Dad

    I’m only 4 months into my blogging career and have already hit walls from all my social media activity, so I can only imagine what you go through. I don’t make any kind of money from it but I find it just as hard to get out of the daily routine you described. It’s a really strange land of fun people, where at any moment, you can find yourself burning an hour on an amazing chat. 

    I now write for 3 sites and spend way too much time on Twitter but most of it is done after hours so I don’t feel like I’m neglecting my family to get it done. I just love the community feeling and how great most of the people are. I have a spreadsheet of sites I love to read and try to visit them 3-4 times a week to drop some comments. I totally agree that commenting, while easy enough to do, can be absolutely draining and a time out is needed every now and then.

    That’s about all I have to say about that. I have been enjoying #DadChat even though I can’t always make it out. Keep up the great work! Chris

    • Bruce Sallan

      You’ve made AMAZING progress in such a short time, Chris! What amazing chat might you be referring to?

      • Canadian Dad

        Thanks! It’s been a ton of fun. As far as the chat, I didn’t mean a specific one, just that one minute you are talking about the weather and then next thing you know, you’ve spent an hour talking with 5 people about the weather, lol. Social Media is so unpredictable!

        • Bruce Sallan

          I knew that, Chris – was just playing with you!

          • Canadian Dad

            Damn. 😛

  • Kyle Bradford

    ” We all want ROI and validation” 

    It has taken me a long time to understand that the success of failure of my website is in no way an indicator of who I am. Every blogger uses certain means to determine if their not wasting their time. Comments, stats, etc. I am still learning, but I believe, that if you are judging your success in this arena by this type of feedback you are in it for all the wrong reasons. 

    I’ve considered eliminating comments entirely and disabling my google analytics account. I’m about 75% of the way their to making that a reality. The 25% that is holding me back remains my need for significance. 

    • Bruce Sallan

      Kyle, PLEASE do not disable the comments section! I totally believe they add VALUE to your readers and, yes, there’s ego involved but, SO WHAT if that ego doesn’t dominate your life! We are human beings and we all have different needs – getting validation is sort of a benign one, don’t you think?

      • Kyle Bradford

        Bruce, I may be cut from a different cloth. I’ve been down that road where I seek my validation through material means as well as the applause of others. It never, NEVER, works. 

        Getting validation is anything but benign. I’ve seen people overspend and do and say things that are totally out of character all for validation. 

        I’d argue that our need for validation is one of the primary problems with our culture. I wrote this post just months after starting this website. Even then I knew where pitfalls where. 

        • Bruce Sallan

          Excellent points, Kyle! Will read AND comment on your blog – and the other that I’ve brought up now…NOT BEING SNARKY, btw…just funny. I think you really have clarified things for me in your two comments here…my “need” for validation may indeed be a character flaw or be too much…or be just right…who knows? You’ve got me wondering – and that is good!

  • Peg Fitzpatrick

    Maybe you just need a pep talk from me! I think it is 100% natural to ebb and flow and while you are a fantastic at blog commenting, maybe that isn’t the best use of your time. Comment when the mood strikes you and the blog speaks to you.

    I am going to re-read the Five Love Languages, such a great message. Correlate that to your Social Media, your tank is empty. How are you going to fill it? What changes can you make that will bring you the rewards that you are looking for? Everything needs a tune up occasionally.

    Sending some positive thoughts your way!

    • Bruce Sallan

      Did I say, “I love you Peg” yet today?

      • Peg Fitzpatrick

        You are very sweet Bruce!

  • @MimiBakerMN

    I burned out last Fall/Winter. I pulled back quite a bit in all areas of online activity. I’m back in, but not as much as I was. I think it’s a good idea to assess where you’re at, where you’re going, etc. I need to re-read Gary Chapman’s book. I think my love language has changed, but I’m definitely a “words of affirmation” person. I understand how frustrating Thursday was. I’m sorry you had that glitch. The chat with Guy was fantastic!!

    • Bruce Sallan

      As it turned out, #DadChat was just fine on Thursday – I wasn’t, but it was. For me, it was a build-up of stress that “blew up” with that inconsequential glitch. That’s life sometimes. Next week will again be fantastic at #DadChat as we support a great cause @ShotAtLife with co-host @TedRubin. I thought you and everyone – especially @ChattyProf – really kept #DadChat “alive” while I was freaking out – the irony is that I still managed to tweet a couple hundred times in the hour! LOL…Love you, Mimi!

  • The JackB

    Hi Bruce,

    There is a natural ebb and flow with this. I used to be more active than I am now but life has changed and I have had to make some adjustments. I expect that will change again.

    I try hard to keep my ego out of this but it is not always easy. Sometimes I look at bloggers who receive more attention and I shake my head because I know I am a better writer than they are. Sometimes I shake my head because I know a thousand times more about social media than they do but I haven’t hit all the conferences the way they have.

    But that is just how this goes here and everywhere else in life. So I do my best to focus on the things that bring me the most joy.

    • Bruce Sallan

      We agree JB – I especially relate to your “There is a natural ebb and flow with this” – as in life, too!

  • AmyMccTobin

    I think we all need to back off once in a while JUST to recharge.  There are weeks when I take days off of Social Media either because my clients or family need me more. I used to actually feel guilty about doing that, but now I realize it’s TOTALLY natural.  Give your self a break Bruce… both literally and figuratively.

    • Bruce Sallan

      We sure Amy, yet the habit is so addictive!

  • Susan Silver

    I agree with other people, there is an ebb and flow. You have to ask yourself if your efforts match with your goals. Why are you blogging? If you can answer that you will know what direction to move in.

    It reminds me of what Seth Godin says about “the dip”. There is a time when things seem really bleak. You plateau and it seems you are getting nowhere. Then you have to decide to quit or stick. Successful people know when to quit and move on. So, I quit a lot of things. I just dropped a mess of social networks that I will never use. What is the point? There is no promotional power in a place that I never visit. 

    Of course you have to know when to stick. I am about to reach my one year blog anniversary on June 1st. Same thing happened to it, about 6 months in traffic stopped growing. I was stuck at 50 subscribers and I felt like a failure. Then comes penguin and now I get 50 views or more a day from search and I have gained 30 subs. Who knows when the search gods will change their minds, but for now I am happy to be discovered by new eyes. 

    You are doing awesome things. I am always here if you need any help or support. 

    • Bruce Sallan

      Thanks Susan…I think there’s just too much change going on for me all at the same time…and my wife threw away some food I was saving in the frig – I HATE when that happens!

  • Betsy Cross

    Honestly, I think we all think too much! Or maybe we all have OCD and can’t help ourselves! LOL!
    My seven-yr-old gets off the bus every day and won’t talk to me for hours. He admitted yesterday that when he gets home he just wants to be alone. Why can’t we be more like kids and come and go as we want and need? I don’t have an answer. But I watch them get all cranky, take a nap, eat, go out and play, and THEN the announce that they’re ready to talk. 
    BTW, I thought #DadChat was perfect. I felt like I was watching a rescue mission in action – all for Christian! What great friends he has that they wouldn’t give up on his participation and actually sacrificed their own in order to tweet his stuff in. That was priceless! In my mind it was a meant-to-be moment (hour). 

    • Bruce Sallan

      Well said BC – on all front. This week’s #DadChat is supporting @ShotAtLife – a wonderful cause. I hope you’ll be there!

      • Betsy Cross

        I’ll check it (them?) out. Guess what? My son is 6, not 7. Ha! Talk about burnout!

        • Betsy Cross

          Just watched their videos and read a bit on their blog. Thought I knew where I stood on the vaccination issue…now I’m conflicted. Off to ponder…

          • Bruce Sallan

            Join us Thursday and we all will learn more about @ShotAtLife:twitter 

  • College $$ Advisor

    Bruce..your passion is so strong and your heart is in the right place.. Yes we have spoke about ROI, value and time. Hitting the wall is normal in anything. It gives you time to regroup…ake a step back and look from the other side…to see whet you can change, keep or remove. A perfect time to speak to friends and refine your plan. We are here for you and you do a great job with more passion then anyone I know.

    • Bruce Sallan

      Thx Jodi. Great to have GREAT friends – like you!

  • JB

    Hi Bruce,
    My first comment on here. I’m basically a fun blogger, so there is no ‘real money’ involved in keeping up with the social media madness sometimes. ROI for me only refers to the amount of time I’m putting in. So no big deal.
    I’ve made the error tho, trying to many ‘platforms’ for building my social network. I have brought it down to three now, so that’s a time saver. I blog as i please. If that’s a good thing? I have no clue. But I’m sure having a ball now! And that’s important too!

    // Jan

    • Bruce Sallan

      What three platform, Jan?

      • JB

        Currently – after cutting the number of platforms down – LinkedIn, Twitter (BottleNose frontend) and Google+. 
        I said ‘currently’ because you never know what awesome platforms will be developed in the near future. Those appear to give me more quality feedback the the others (Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Digg)I have used before the cutdown.

        // Jan

        • Bruce Sallan

          If/When I get some time it’s either/or Pinterest and Google+ for me next…

  • Brian Vickery

    Insightful introspection put into words, Bruce. I can commiserate! I’ve made great connections in social media, and some of those connections have jumped way up in my personal friends list – even though I haven’t met them in person. It is so much easier to find people with similar interests even if their viewpoints may be different. Thus, debate and depth of friendship can develop.

    I do not attempt to monetize my blog; however, I do want my consistent presence to encourage followers to see what I do for a living. I originally got started with social media to gently introduce folks to our social media monitoring solution. I am in the process of expanding that scope to also start content creation/curation for all the other services that my company does.

    At some point, some of these followers need to convert to customers if my ROI is to be judged by conversions.

    Always nice to see your blog comments and to hear about the successful #DadChat sessions! Keep up the great work, Bruce.

    • Bruce Sallan

      Thx BV – a big difference between us is that my “day-job” is all I’m doing online. While I don’t HAVE to make money, it sure wouldn’t hurt! See you at #DadChat – I hope – Thursday when we’re fund-raising for @ShotAtLife:twitter 

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  • netster

    Hi Bruce! How are you today? 🙂

    “Regardless, I will not compromise my values, my core beliefs, or my work ethic, under any circumstances.”

    Remind me this quote I learned.

    “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life ~ Confucius.”

    You put so much effort in your works because you love doing it and I applaud your energy to never change your goal and sticking to your core beliefs.

    I absolutely believe if you stick to the path you believe in and you will definitely reach your goal.


    • Bruce Sallan

      Thanks so much Jong, for the kind words and the great quote! Who is Confucius? A Chinese soccer player? JUST KIDDING!

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  • David Weber

    It is normal to ebb and flow with respect to the nuts and bolts of what one does. 

    • Bruce Sallan

      It may be normal, but #burnout is no fun!

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