To me, social media is one of two things:
- The ability for anyone to be a publisher of content.
- A two-way street of sharing information between anyone.
The people who go with option #1 seem to come to Twitter and Facebook and blogging and everything else to become stars. And thanks to the ease of publishing with social, anyone can be. If you’ve got thousands of people following you to hear what you’re up to, and you are only interested in hearing from 20 or so, you must be a big deal.
Thing is, these people don’t do a lot of “interacting.” If someone is using social to make themselves feel popular, it just doesn’t seem like they’re seeing the big picture.
That’s what option #2 is: Using social to learn, and add to others’ knowledge. Here people don’t do what they can to filter out people so they can have more Twits following them then they follow back because that’s what the big shots do. Instead, these people will unfollow you for being uninteresting. On the other hand, if you have something to add, they’ll always respond to something worth hearing about.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot tonight, as I sifted through my all-important (to me) FriendFeed profile. Early on in my social media usage, I found that I used specific sites in specific ways – Facebook just for family and close friends, Twitter for everyone, this blog for shooting my mouth off (in an inescapably one-way way,) and FriendFeed for engaging in real information exchange.
So when I go through my subscriptions there, I kick off the people unwilling to listen to me or anyone else. But if there’s someone who’s so incredibly awesome they can’t possibly follow everyone (me included) back, I keep them on. If the quality of someone’s posts is just that good, they earn the right to have that kind of rockstar follower/following ratio.
The people who maneuver and connive to look like celebrities show their hand – they don’t have content that’s quality enough to gain a following, so they do everything else to make it look like they have a voice worth listening to.
In short, stop trying to game social to make yourself feel like you’re important, and just concentrate on the quality and creativity of what you have to say.