Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. YouTube. Google+. StumbleUpon. Digg. These are some of the most popular social networks today, and many social media experts will tell clients that they need to be on all of them. Right away. Right now. No excuses, get on all those networks today. You can’t miss out on the SEO, SEM, client conversation benefits.

Maybe that’s true for huge corporations, but when you’re dealing with a small business owner stretched to the max, that list just sounds exhausting. It sounds like another impossible wishlist to add to an already groaning list of things to do one day, someday, when you have some time. Think about it: if you’re an average small business owner with one hour a week to devote to social media and you’re trying to be on all seven of those networks listed above, you only have 8.5 minutes every week for each network. There is no possible way to be successful on every social network in 8.5 minutes a week.

But you can be successful on many networks in 60 minutes a week. So let me absolve you of your guilt: you don’t have to be on all of those networks. Not all at once, not right away, maybe not ever. It is far better to focus all your time and attention on one network and make that space the best it can be, a true gathering place for customers and others in your industry, than to stretch yourself thin over seven networks and not make an impression on any of them.

When we tell clients this, they act like we’ve handed them a gift. We’ve given them permission to be human, permission to focus on just one aspect of social media and work at it tenaciously until they’ve built something great that contributes back to their business. For consumer oriented businesses, maybe that’s building an amazing community on Facebook. For business-to-business brands, that might be an excellent LinkedIn page where you focus on making new industry contacts. And on and on.

The bottom line is, you don’t need to be everywhere–you just need to be where your customers are. Find out where your critical mass of customers is and focus your attention there instead of trying to be all things to all people. Make the most of your time and resources and build one great thing instead of seven mediocre somethings. So you have permission. Go do something great.