I know this article is going to get banned from my local “tweetup.” That’s OK.

And I can already hear the objections from all of the various social media “gurus.”

“Facebook is the second-largest site in the world. Only Google is larger.”

“Twitter’s user base grows by millions each quarter.”

“I know my Facebook page will be a success. I just need to find the right formula.”

Just stop and take a deep breath. I’m not telling you to stop doing social media. And I’m not saying that social media is killing your affiliate marketing business, but if you’re spending too much time on it, it just might.

There are three major reasons (and many more minor reasons) why you should make sure you’re avoiding a common social media pitfall — spending too much time managing your social media — and a few solutions to encourage you to make better use of your time.

1) Social media takes too much time away from real networking

I’ve talked to too many beginning affiliate marketers who spend hours mastering the ins and outs of Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and social bookmarking, with little increase in revenue to show for it.

While it’s important for you to build a presence on these sites, simply having great social profiles is not enough to help you get the new customers you need to aggressively grow your business. Remember, social networking is really just networking. Make sure you’re using your social profiles to talk to other people and get them involved in a conversation that’s relevant to your niche. Ask provocative questions. Provide well-researched answers. Just remember, if you’re building your social profile by simply taking in all the noise in your Facebook feed and getting lost in funny cat videos, you’re not adding value to your business.

Post your updates, engage in conversations, and then get on with the rest of your day. You should really be spending your time finding new programs to promote, exploring new opportunities, and creating great content for your sites.

2) Is Facebook action or distraction?

In late 2010, for the first time ever, Facebook passed Google in the average time a user spent on the site.

Remember, Facebook is designed to engage users as long as possible. On the other hand, most Google tools are designed to help users get what they need as quickly as possible.

Now, you might think Facebook’s ability to hook users and keep their attention is great for your niche. But most affiliate marketing works best when it solves a problem for someone. And then, when a buyer follows your advice, they’ll often buy the products you recommend. But to get them to make that purchase, they have to be in an action-oriented mindset. And Facebook users are anything but action-oriented. I mean, who wants to do anything with all those funny cat videos out there?

If you’re in the business of brief distraction, Facebook will work. But if you want to build your business by helping people solve problems and encouraging them to take action, Facebook might present more of a challenge for you.

3) Twitter’s stats are full of noise

I’m a big fan of micro-blogging and the short, impatient, clever bursts that come from it. But I’m not a fan of spam, and twitter is full of it. Over the past year, I’ve found that my various Twitter accounts are getting more and more spam. While most of this comes from auto-following people who follow me, there is one statistic that says it all:

Pear Analytics, a San Antonio market research firm, analyzed 2,000 tweets over a two-week period in August 2009 and separated them into six categories. Of those six categories, 40 percent of tweets were “pointless babble,” six percent were self-promotion, and four percent were spam.

If noise, self-promotion and spam comprise 50 percent of Twitter content, it’s not long before users will become frustrated and start tuning Twitter out. In fact, some anecdotal reports suggest that more than half of all Twitter accounts have been dormant for more than six months.

If you have a following on Twitter and your users are engaged, use it to your advantage. But don’t spend hours posting content, assuming your great content will naturally break through the clutter. You’ll need more strategy than that.

Stay focused on results

I’m not telling you to ignore social media. It can be a great source of traffic and a terrific way to build backlinks.

But when you’re running an affiliate marketing business, you have to remember that it’s not the messenger or the channel, it’s the message. If you want to be a successful affiliate marketer, focus on creating great content and post that content all over the web so you can appeal to potential fans, friends, advocates and customers.
Look at your engagement with social media the same way you look at a piece of paper when writing a letter (if you’ve done that in the past few years). Focus on the quality of what you’re going to say, then get the word out through every channel you can.

Don’t spend hours on Facebook and Twitter. Just load up your content, make some connections, and then get to work managing the rest of your business.

What are your thoughts and experience with social media? Are you having success? Please leave your comments below!