So we’re all looking to get a little bit ahead, and scheduling content in advance is way more efficient and just plain faster. Right?  Absolutely!  It is definitely faster. And way more efficient than actually having to be AT the party.

Think about that.  It’s more efficient than having to be AT the party.  If you only drop off your flyers at party locations ahead of time, everyone who actually goes to the party will obviously do business with you.

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This is ridiculous.  No one does business with flyers and ads.  They do business with people.  We may like your fancy-pants ad, but we like talking to you more about it in person or online.  We like hearing your perspective.  We’re making decisions about whom we will do business with and who will waste our time.  That’s information we just can’t gather from a flyer.

So what does scheduling have to do with this? 

Because when we get caught up in our brains about how much time all this social media marketing crap is actually going to take, we immediately start looking for ways to get it “done” and out of the way.  We need to feel like we’ve completed a task.  It makes us feel as if we’re in control when we know that something is going out every Friday at precisely 5 p.m. that says “Have A Great Weekend Fans!” Checkmark off the to-do list and go back to what really matters.

This is not social.  Yet so many people behave like this online with their automated tools.  It’s the same as you dropping off flyers ahead of time and never showing up to the party.  Who are you?  If people never see you, you can bet they won’t be thinking about you when it comes referral time. This doesn’t mean you have to attend every lame duck networking event in town.  It also doesn’t mean you can’t schedule your events or important meeting dates ahead of time.  We typically schedule at least week out just so we don’t miss important announcements. But we also allow time to actually be at the party so we can listen, share, like, retweet, … participate.  Typically, if you are strategic online, you will find more success offline.

If you want social media to work for you, it’s critical that you block time on your calendar to actually ATTEND a few events – online.  When you spend time on LinkedIn, you are essentially at a networking event – a BIG networking event, where potentially all of your prospects may be hanging out. When you are on Facebook, you are at a pool party, or after work party.  Pinterest is the scrapbooking party.  When you are on twitter, you can be dialed into just about any party in the world by using a hashtag.

But you won’t know what’s going on at any of these parties if you are so concerned with scheduling your stuff and getting it all done (which is never possible).  You completely miss the “social” boat.  Wherever your best prospects and customers are, you need to be at that party.

Block an hour of time (same amount of time you might block off for a live prospecting event), and show up at a LinkedIn group event, or the Twitter event, or whatever network your heart desires event, and “like” some things.  Retweet some things.  Comment on some things.  Find things to share with your networks that are useful to them.  The keyword is THEM.  Next keyword is USEFUL.

Social networks are interactive.  This means you have to actually INTERACT.  You have to share other people’s posts, you must go around to other pages and “like” or +1 or pin or retweet, or whatever, in order to show that you are alive and that you can be supportive.  As small business owners, this is what we care about.  Supporting one another.  Why do we want to follow you if you don’t follow anyone back?  Why do we want to share your photos when you never share ours?  You don’t pin our pins. Or retweet our tweets.  You can’t.  You are too busy scheduling!

Supporting is how you grow a loyal fan base.  Dropping off flyers ahead of time (scheduling posts way ahead of time)… never showing support with a like, never being present, never responding…  just doesn’t make you an ideal candidate to be invited to better and better parties.