How Important Are You On Social Media?

If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around.”

Back in August I decided to try a little experiment; y’all know how I like to try experiments from time to time. Going into this one, I was betting I knew how it would turn out, but still had some hopes that maybe I was wrong. In the end, there were some interesting lessons to learn.

What I did was fairly simple. I decided that for the week I wasn’t going to initiate any conversations or share any information on either Facebook or Twitter, other than my normal marketing endeavors on Twitter whenever I create new content. The only caveat I had was that if someone wrote me first I would reply. But if nobody tried to contact me, I wasn’t going to post any other links, or do a retweet, or reach out to comment on something anyone said, including just saying hello. In essence, I wanted to see if anyone would miss me.

This might seem like a narcissistic endeavor, but I had an interesting premise and intention. I’ve written in the past about the aspects of social media marketing and how it gets to be difficult because once you start examining the process you realize that you might have to inundate the market with messages, depending on which social media platform you’re using, trying to get the word out and to try to reach as many people as possible. Since I figured I have a significant number of people following me that actually knew who I was, including some friends, I wanted to see if someone might wonder where I’ve been.

What happened is exactly what I was expecting, unfortunately. For the entire week I got three messages, all on Twitter and all of which I responded to. One was through private message, which means in public that for an entire week people would have only seen me respond to two people; that is, if anyone was paying attention. I did have some people retweet some of my posts, so that was something, I guess, but overall nothing.

What lessons did I learn, and what lessons can all of us basically learn from this little experiment? Let’s take a look:

1. Very few of us are important enough online to be missed by anyone. Other than active celebrities, I think there would be few people who would be missed if they stopped doing anything on social media, unless they’d recently done something controversial, for more than three days without telling people they were taking time off. So it’s not that I’m supposed to be anyone special, it’s just that there’s so much going on that it’s easy to miss when someone suddenly isn’t around.

2. Staying in the minds of people you’re trying to reach through social media means you have to be ready to dedicate either a lot of time or a lot of effort or a lot of technology to get the job done right. Strangely enough, although I’m not going to do it, I’m starting to get a better sense of why some people either use plug-ins that promote their stuff all day long, sometimes seeming like once a minute every single day, or have periods throughout the day where they’re going crazy posting all sorts of stuff on all the social media platforms. Some of us might get irritated by it, but my bet is that the overwhelming public doesn’t notice it the same way that someone like me does.

3. Even though social media marketing is one of the easiest things to do when compared to traditional marketing, and definitely more cost effective, it’s harder to establish a loyal and recurring market unless you can figure out what captures someone’s attention enough for them to miss you, share what you have to say, comment on what you have to say, and then pay for whatever you’re hoping to get people to pay for, even if it’s only to pay attention to you.

4. If you want loyalty, get a dog. 🙂 Okay, let me expand on that one. Dogs are the only creatures alive that will miss you from the day they come into your world until the day they leave this world. No other pet does that, and no person does that, no matter how much in love they tell you they’re in with you.

This doesn’t mean people don’t like you, it doesn’t mean they won’t miss you, and it doesn’t mean that some of them might not love you. What it means is that it takes work and consistency to get the world to listen to your message, to create your message, and to share your message with regularity. However, if you can figure out why there’s such a strong connection between people and dogs, and apply it to your life and your business, social media or not, you will never want for anything.

Let me add this. During the experiment, I got a lot more things completed than I normally might because I wasn’t checking Twitter or Facebook all that often. I did view and like pictures on Instagram, because it was hard to go cold turkey and I enjoy looking at images. At least now I have a better idea of what needs to be done towards my quest to become more influential, while also giving me something to think about as far as whether I’m ready to put in that much effort for the goal.

There you go; use the information as you wish.
 

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21 thoughts on “How Important Are You On Social Media?”

  1. I used to be very active in commenting and conversing in multiple places. Generated a fair amount of engagement and made me think I had a decent amount of influence and popularity.

    It all disappeared when I cut down on the activity. I still have some readers and commenters but very few compared to the past.

    I don’t think many would notice if I disappeared. Kind of humbling.

    1. It’s definitely humbling, but it’s educational at the same time. We can’t expect that people will stick with us and read our content without some kind of reciprocal behavior. I don’t comment as often as I used to back in the day, but I probably comment more often than most people do.

    1. You do that, though I think you have such a loyal audience that they’d miss you almost immediately. What I need to work on now is figuring out why you keep going into my pending folder when I’ve added your information to my whitelist; I’ll get it right eventually.

    2. You know, I miss you, Ramana. I haven’t been keeping up with my own blog, really, let alone half the ones I frequented regularly even a few years ago.

      And Mitch? Nothing’s changed. I learned this back in 1990, on GEnie. And I feel guilty for doing it, and eager to assuage the guilt of others when they do it to me. It’s humbling, it’s natural, and eventually it happens to even the most famous of celebrities.

      It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not important or influential to people, just that humans are all susceptible to constant distractions and have short attention spans. This has not been made better by the internet, TV, 24/7 news – we are overloaded.
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Before Creating a New Facebook Account, Read This First!My Profile

      1. Well, to be clear the article wasn’t directed as “regular folks” but towards those who get a taste of some kind of fame and think they’re actually “somebody”… aka “influencer”. I used to think that about myself back in the late 2000’s when my site was ranked in the top 75K in the world… only to have Google take it away from me and my thinking “Mitchell, you should have known better.”

        Still, I definitely notice when I haven’t heard or seen people in a long time, but I know it’s difficult to reach out on social media sites looking for them because those are the sites where they haven’t been showing up. Many eventually come back, but I always feel a little guilty that I never worked hard enough to get information so I could try contacting them offline. Then I realize that I’d be reluctant to give out a lot of information about myself like that.

      2. Holly, I stopped visiting your blog because you were writing about things about which I as an Indian did not have a clue and could not understand most of the contents. I do not comment on all Mitch’s posts too because there are often topics on which he writes that I do not understand and have nothing to contribute to.

  2. Hi Mitch! With millions (or billions?) of people online, how important could we possibly be? 🙂 I’m one of those who uses a plugin and also a program called dlvr.it to automate sharing, but that includes material by others, not only mine. (I just added your blog feed on there, as well.) Still, I try to interact as much as possible because otherwise, you disappear into the ether. I would miss any one of my regular connections if they stopped posting for an extended period.
    Debbie D. recently posted..MEMORIES OF AUTUMNMy Profile

    1. I’ve missed people here and there Debbie, but didn’t always have a way to connect with them except on the very platform I was connected to them on. I wonder if it’s something I think about more often as I’ve gotten older because, other than work and career I usually tried staying under the radar (says the guy who bowled in leagues for 30 years and was a wedding single at one time lol).

  3. I think your experiment validates exactly why spamming occurs. LOL

    If a tree falls in the forest…

    The ephemeral nature of Twitter makes for a marketing challenge that’s a bit different from more sticky platforms. Folks who understand that, like Debbie, get more out of it.

    Cheers,

    Mitch
    Mitchell Allen recently posted..DonorMy Profile

    1. I do pretty much the same type of thing as Debbie most of the time. I engage with people on Twitter, though they don’t always engage back. I obviously do the same via blogs that accept comments. In this particular study if you will, I was including both Facebook and LinkedIn. I knew I wouldn’t hear anything on LinkedIn, but thought that maybe one or two people would include me in something or reach out specifically, mainly because of Mom being here; nope. It was worth doing the experiment to see how important marketing, promoting and randomly talking to other people is.

  4. Hello Mitch,
    This is a very interesting conversation, so I will share my thoughts on it.
    People need connection, whether in person or online they still want to feel like they are being seen and heard. So, if you are not actively engaging with them, they are not being seen, they are not being heard and neither are you so all parties involved move on. Very easy to do when you consider that the connection you are creating with most people online is extremely superficial at best. And taking into account what Debbie said, that there are literally billions of people online, when you disappear 1000’s more are there to take your place. Hence the reason consistently engaging with others is important. But, if you are looking to social media to fulfill these needs on a deep and personal level you are in the wrong spot. Over time I have come to realize that Social Media is best for marketing and business.

    I keep telling my kids, people on social media are not your “Friends”. If you have never had an actual face-to-face conversation with them or invited them over for dinner they are not your friend. Amassing a huge social media following tricks us into believing we are more important than we actually are and even engaging with others can make us think we have all these “friends”. And your “friends” care about you, right?

    We could probably discuss this for hours but I will sign off now.
    SharlaAnn Matyjanka recently posted..Ditching The 9-5 Mindset-Not The Usual AdviceMy Profile

    1. I totally agree with you SharlaAnn, which is why in my life I’m hesitant to call anyone “friend” that I don’t also get to talk to personally. Still, it can be humbling when you notice you’re on thousands of lists that people have created to make sure they get your content, yet never notice that you’ve gone missing. Once again, I have to come back to my reality, which is that for the most part the people I tend to miss more often are people on my local list who have been gone for a while and, as I mentioned to Holly, don’t have an email address or phone number to reach out to them to see how they’re doing. It’s an important thing to both understand and teach to others who never consider this reality.

      1. Mitch,
        Many people are disillusioned when it comes to their social following. This is why it is so important to take the time to cultivate “real” relationships, even if they are long distance relationships with certain people we connect with online and not put so much value on our social media “friends”. So don’t be afraid to get phone numbers, emails etc. and reach out to those you want to stay in touch with.
        SharlaAnn Matyjanka recently posted..3 Key Factors That Limit Your SuccessMy Profile

      2. That’s how I see it. It’s nice being able to talk to people here and there, but expecting more than that from anyone I don’t talk to often is unrealistic. True, if it happened that way I wouldn’t be upset, but I tell myself I know better and move on from there.

    1. If I focus I can create a lot of content without being on social media. Yet I know how important some of the sites are for promoting articles and business. However, when I disappear, it feels like I’ve never existed… odd feeling I know, but overall I’m good with it.

  5. Hi Dear Mitch, I’m with you on this one! The algorithms have changed so much that I don’t see half the people I used to or engage with as many. I’ve found too that I can write more and be more productive than spending that time on social media. It’s really changing Mitch.

    1. What’s funny is that these days I rarely see anything popping up on FB from people I’m connected to. Maybe that’s the same problem others are having in finding my missives. Twitter’s kind of the same thing; if you’re not on a list or haven’t created your own, no one’s going to know whether you’re around or not.

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