Social Media: It's not About You

Photo credit: JanneM on Flickr
Before I joined Twitter, I had a lot of ideas about what it would be like. I assumed it’d be mostly people tweeting randomness about their lives that no one really needed to know or cared to hear about. And although randomness does appear on Twitter (even I couldn’t resist telling the world about the success of my attempt at Butterbeer cupcakes), it’s a lot more than that.

I assumed a lot about what it would be like, but I never imagined what a huge role community would play into it.

I know so far I’ve really only mentioned Twitter, but this applies to just about any form of social media, be it Facebook, Tumblr, LinkedIn (I’m guessing), Blogging, et cetera et cetera.

I’m not any expert, nor will I pretend to be. I only really dove into social media this past April, so really, I’m still a newbie. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned so far, it’s that when it comes to social media, it’s not about you.

Whoa, there. Not about me? Isn’t social media about building my platform and getting my name out there? Well…yes and no.

I’d be naïve to say that the overall goal isn’t to build online influence. It is—even I get excited when my Klout score goes up, when I get a bunch of new followers on Twitter, when my blog has a successful day with a lot of page views. Yes, the goal is, for most people at least, to build a platform and get known.

BUT. If you really want to flourish online, if you really want to get a group of loyal followers, if you really want people to like you (and when your goal is building a platform, trust me, you do), you have to accept that this isn’t about you.

Your blog? It should give helpful/interesting/entertaining information to your readers. It’s not about you.

Your Twitter? It should be used not only to spread your own ideas, but those of others. Networking means reaching out to other people and supporting them in their journeys. It’s not about you.

Your Facebook? Yes, it has your personal information, your picture, your interests but that like button isn’t for promoting your own posts, now is it? It’s not about you.

Here’s a little secret: people will tolerate listening to you talk about yourself sporadically. Hey, sometimes they even ask and that’s great. But if all you do is promote your own work, if all you do is talk about yourself and spread links galore to your various sites, guess what? People will stop caring. Why should they support you if all you do is support yourself?

You know that old saying “There’s no I in team?” (and yes, I’m aware there IS a “me”, but that’s beside the point.) Well it applies here. Social media is a team effort. It’s a community.

And unless you start supporting your fellow members, you’ll find that people will let you keep doing what you’re doing. They just stick around to listen.

How has community affected your social media experience?


Joseph said...

Great post! I try not to go into the whole here's my life scene over Facebook, well only on my profile :)

Jennie Bennett said...

Very well said, and I would say that you are an expert!

Gabe (Ava Jae) said...

Glad everyone's enjoyed the post so far...still don't think I'm an expert, though. I still have a lot to learn. :)

Thanks for the feedback! Let's keep it coming!

Dave said...

Interestingly, the perception of Twitter from the outside (by that I mean those who don't use it) is that its completely about narcissistic self broadcasting. Once, when we were out with some friends, my wife and I were walking up the steps to an art gallery, and I was tweeting some random, humorous comment that had been made during our conversation, because I knew that others would find it funny, as well. One of the people with us asked me if I was tweeting, and then said, "Do you think anyone cares that you're walking up stairs right now?" As though assuming that I was posting a literal update as to what I was doing.

I agree completely with what you're saying, and I think that it needs to be said.

Carissa Andrews said...

Great post, as always! :) I also had a much different perspective of Twitter/Blogging before I really got involved. It's far exceeded any expectation I had. I love the community so much… I miss everyone when I'm away. Is that weird? Probably. *shrugs* Eh, I love you peeps. I guess I wouldn't have it any other way. ;)

Gabe (Ava Jae) said...

The few times I've mentioned that I'm Twitter, I get one of two reactions:

1) From Twitter users--"You have a Twitter? What's your Twitter handle?"

2) From non-Twitter users-- *eyeroll* "Not you too..."

I get the reactions, I do. I used to be part of the crowd that saw Twitter as beyond unnecessary.

But then I got involved and discovered the community and well...the rest is history. :)

Social media is a great opportunity to connect with others and build each other up, and for that I love it.

Karen Hartzell said...

I like that you recognize that it's not all about the person posting the content. I agree it's about sharing, networking and for me, meeting people in real life with shared interests, whether those interests be our kids, blogs, hobbies, or love of social platforms in general.

There are plenty of things to be shared by everyone even when you don't share the exact same niche.

inluvwithwords said...

I'm brand new to blogging. Haven't ventured onto Twitter or Facebook yet, but it's good to read your thoughts. I'm doing lots of reading about social media and trying to find a balance. Thanks for your post.

Unknown said...

True. It's not about you. But I sure am glad is you, 'cause I like you ^_^

Gabe (Ava Jae) said...

Sharing makes the world go the social media sphere anyway.


Welcome! I'm glad you found this post helpful. I wish you the best as you start dabbling in social media outlets! :)


Awww. :D Thanks!

Unknown said...

Great post! This is so true, yet we don't really think about Social Media this way. Thank you for your input. Very thought-provoking...


S.P. Sipal said...

I drug my feet to Twitter as well. Why did I want to listen to how somebody was feeding their cat? I think when Twitter first started, the example they gave of what you could Tweet about was a mistake. If I remember correctly, it was something very self-centered and boring like that.

But then I got on. And discovered the WHOLE publishing world was there! It took me a while to find my voice, because I didn't want to just talk about me. But I'm so glad I found something to say because I've met the best people (like YOU!) since! :-)

Brenda H said...

Twitter was confusing to me at first but you hit it on the head! I'm about 6 weeks into the blogging world and still need to learn a lot more, but it was great to read this perspective

Jacquelyn said...

I was overwhelmed and intimidated by Twitter at first. As an author, I feel I need to have an account, but as a person, I never feel like I have much interesting to say and I don't want to backslide into one of those completely inane tweeters...

My feelings about Twitter changed when I shifted my perspective and noticed how much great writing/publishing information is shared there (blog posts, articles, etc.). Since I've started retweeting the posts/links I feel are really informative and helpful instead of always trying to come up with something interesting about me to tweet, I feel much better about using Twitter. Now I feel like I'm actually connecting and contributing in some way instead of taking up virtual space, so I totally agree with what you're saying here.

Great post!

Angela Ackerman said...

Brilliant post!

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Gage C. Evans said...

NO! No no no! I want it ALL to be about me! Me me, wonderful me!

Hi pretty girl :) LOVED the post. Of course, it doesn't apply to ME :D

Gabe (Ava Jae) said...

A lot of people (especially at first) seem a little intimidated by Twitter. I know I was at first (I too wondered what I could say that could POSSIBLY be interesting), but once I relaxed I found that even when I posted randomness, I still somehow managed to entertain people.

I once posted "Do you know the muffin man?" (I was feeling REALLY random...don't ask) and got half a dozen responses. Needless to say, I was a tad bit astounded.

So glad everyone's liked the post! :)

P.S: @GageCE

Ha ha ha, of course not. ^_^

Unknown said...

Great post - Twitter is a great place to meet others in your niche...Once you know them you can move over to Facebook. Love all the interactions that Twitter can provide.

Unknown said...

I love twitter and started in March or April.. I try to share 80/20.. I have met and networked with amazing people. I share positive quotes and interesting fact I find on twitter. My account is now over 5000 in that short time with a facebook following of over 1200 for the fanpage. This post is dead on. I hope all our triberr friends read this. Great post!

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