June 09, 2010 / by Heidi Sullivan

@hksully’s 30-day challenge to build 10 new relationships on the social web

CisionBlog launched in October 2008, not long after I began engaging in social media on Cision’s behalf. Over these past two years, social media has truly opened my world up to a whole new community, new responsibilities and a heck of a lot of research. Through this blog, Cision’s free social media webinar series, numerous speaking engagements and more, I have shared a lot of research and advice on how communicators can utilize social media. One universal theme that presents itself throughout all of it: Social media is not about broadcasting your message, but building relationships as a member of the community.

Sounds great, right? One problem:

Over the past six months, I’ve gotten busy with new responsibilities at work and built a decent-sized, engaged following on Twitter, Facebook and other social sites and suddenly I find myself struggling to stay engaged.

Sure, I send my requisite tweets and re-tweet others, recommend colleagues on LinkedIn and comment on Facebook group walls and blog posts. But I’ve stopped building deeper, meaningful relationships with the influencers in my community.But how can I track the conversations of thousands of the Tweeters that I follow? Or the birthdays of hundreds of friends on Facebook? Or the posts on my 25 favorite blogs?

My RSS reader, email inbox, DMs and Facebook News Feed have become cluttered – to the point that although I’m actively participating, I’m not building relationships.

My fiancee has less than 100 followers and less than 100 people that he’s following on Twitter. He receives all of their updates via text message and talks to me about each one of them as if they are close friends. He has more committed relationships with influencers in his sphere than I do in mine. My sphere is too cluttered.

So here’s my personal committment for the next 30 days: I have selected 10 people I follow on Twitter that I’d like to get to know better and I am going to receive all of their tweets and blog posts as text messages to my Palm Pre. My goal is to build more meaningful relationships with each of these ten. I have asked each of them to complete a brief survey on our relationship at this point and will do so again in 30 days. I’ll be keeping a journal of my progress and provide feedback and insights here on CisionBlog.

Here are the ten terrific Tweeters that I’ve chosen (along with my reason for choosing them): 

Jay Baer: Social Media Consultant, Blogger, Convince & Convert. I met Jay and heard him speak at Social Fresh St. Louis and thought he was really smart, insightful and funny.

Valeria Maltoni: Brand Strategist, Blogger, Conversation Agent. I’ve commented a few times on Valeria’s blog and received a personalized response every time. I could learn a thing or two about relationship building from her!

Jason Chupick: PR & Social Media Strategist, Crenshaw Communications, Co-Editor, PRNewswer. I was a source for Jason for a post some time ago, but I read PRNewser every day. Plus, I’m amazed by anyone who can manage both the PR and media worlds.

Karen Kring: Partner, Kring Lerner Group, President, Association for Women Journalists-Chicago, Co-founder, PICTURE THIS Projects. Karen and I have tried to connect with each other a few times as women in Chicago with similar interests, but with both of our busy schedules, it’s never worked out. Hoping that this connection will help us meet in the future!

B.L. Ochman: Marketing Strategist, Director, Blogger, What’s Next. I refer to case studies and posts from B.L.’s blog all the time – and really enjoyed her book What Could Your Company Do with a Blog? We’ve never spoken, but I’d love to make a connection.

Chris Kieff: Social Marketing Consultant, Blogger, 1goodreason.com. I met Chris at a tweetup after PRSA Digital Impact 2010. He has some really unique ideas and definitely made me laugh.

Mack Collier: Social Media Consultant, Blogger, The Viral Garden. I’ve been reading The Viral Garden for a few years now, but rarely comment and have only tweeted with Mack once or twice. He’s one of my favorite bloggers.

David Spinks: Community & Project Manager, Scribnia, Co-founder of #u30pro. I met David at PRSA Digital Impact and cracked up at his tweets. He’s also working on one of the coolest sites I’ve seen in a long time.

Suzanne Marlatt: Community Manager, Edelman Digital & Blogger, Lovesfool. I’ve met Suzanne once or twice before at tweetups and just missed her after the Cubs’ game last week. She’s funny and smart and, like Karen and me, a Windy City woman.

Robyn Quinn: Founder & Principal, Big Bang Communications. Robyn has participated in a few of Cision’s free social media webinars and I’ve always found her questions and comments compelling.

Do you find the more you get involved in social media the more cluttered the conversation? What best practices do you employ to avoid disengagement? Anyone else care to join the @hksully challenge?

To check out what these 10 terrific tweeps are tweeting about right now, you can go to my Twitter list hksully 30-day challenge.

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About Heidi Sullivan

One of PRWeek’s 40 under 40 in 2012, Heidi Sullivan is Senior Vice President of Digital Content for Cision and a self-proclaimed social media metrics nerd. She leads the company’s digital and broadcast content teams, the global research team for Cision’s media database, Cision’s social media community team and the company’s content marketing strategy. You can find her on Twitter @hksully.