The Word For 2020 Is… Socialization

As we close out 2019, a year that I’m glad is finally over, I have to say that I’ve been through a lot of different things, including an interesting bit of growth and thought. Some of it’s been personal, some business. Because it’s been all over the board, I’ve been working on goals and plans for 2020, and I’m sharing one with you.


As you see above, the word for 2020 for me is socialization. It’s an intriguing word because most of the internet marketing gurus like to use the word “engagement”. Unfortunately, truth be told, most of those using the word aren’t actually doing it. I’m sure they think they are, but they’re not. Why?

Engagement as a word doesn’t have any soul to it. For instance, engagement in business means addressing your customer’s needs without really caring about them. When people are only seen as ways to make money, engagement can seem and look phony.

Some months ago I decided to do an experiment via Twitter. Most people don’t actually look at their major stream because it can be overwhelming. Lists work so much better because they’re segregated and small. The main stream shows the content of everyone you’re following; depending on how you access Twitter, it’s either in time order or what Twitter considers “important” order (kind of like Facebook).

What I noticed is that many of the people I’ve been connected to for many years have grown both their followers and the people they’re connected to dramatically. Whereas I’m still only following just over 1,100 after 11 1/2 years, it’s not unheard of to see someone following anywhere from 30,000 to 150,000 people; ouch!

When you have numbers like that, the majority stop actually engaging. They might have automated services set up to acknowledge people, but actually saying “thank you” or talking to a person with “real words” doesn’t happen.

What I did was start sharing more content from people I didn’t talk to all that often. It was pretty good content; I didn’t share things I didn’t read. Obviously I included their Twitter handle so they’d know it was shared if they were paying attention. At that point, they had two options; ignore or do… something! I mean really, like, retweet, say thanks… anything!

When all is said and done, almost no one every said a single word. Almost no one retweeted or liked anything. I’m talking about accounts with huge numbers, not someone with numbers around mine or somewhat higher. Matter of fact, only one person ever retweeted anything, that being Marji Dupuis (formerly Sherman), who’s following more than 120,000 people. Out of all the people who write about social media engagement… she’s it!

My experiment wasn’t all that tough; I think it was very fair. For accounts whose content I shared, or people who were posting anywhere from 5 to 10 articles every hour, 24/7 (some do that; ugh!), I’d go to their Twitter feed and look at their tweets. I’d go through their tweets to see if they engaged with anyone within a day if they had tons of tweets, or within 5 or 6 days if they were perspicacious.

Doing it that way, so far I’ve found 2 people; Jeff Sheehan, who’s following over 347,000 people (my head hurts! lol) and Rebekah Radice, who’s following 44,000 people. I’ve talked to Jeff recently so that’s cool, and though I don’t believe I’ve talked to Rebekah in the longest time, I see her talking to others; that’s good for me.

The thing about them is they’re not engaging; they’re socializing. They’re talking to people about things that aren’t associated with business all the time. For a great experience on social media, people sometimes want to socialize. The folks above show that it’s not impossible to market, engage and socialize, but socializing is what puts them over the top… in my opinion.

It’s what I try to do on social media, which is why I want to be better at it in 2020. I actually need to be more engaging when it comes to business, but I’m not connected to enough people in my industry on Twitter to do it. I market my content, but in general I’m socializing. On LinkedIn I market my content, but most of the time I’m not either engaging or socializing; I need to be better at that.

At least I socialize on blogs, including mine. If you’re lucky and have time, see some of the conversations Holly & I have on some of the posts here and on her blog. If you want to know what socialization’s all about, those will teach you.

In any case, socialization is my word for 2020; I hope I can exhibit it on social media more than I’ve been doing. If you’re up for it, either comment on my blog or talk to me on Twitter. Let’s all socialize more in 2020!

10 thoughts on “The Word For 2020 Is… Socialization”

  1. Hey Mitch,

    Well, you know I’ll share this. I’ve known you for about 5 years now and I’m glad we’re still connected.

    I wish you and your family a happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous 2020 and beyond 🙂

  2. Those “marketing gurus” can ruin any good word, can’t they? It’s also one of the buzzwords of corporate America: “employee engagement” (In other words, are employees interested in the work, or spending their days just getting by, watching cat videos on YouTube?) As I said to a colleague and my VP, recently, we can’t all be working on our “passion projects” all the time – some of the valuable work at any company isn’t all that, but provides us with the means to pursue our passions outside of the office.

    Corporations don’t HAVE souls. When they try to pretend they do, they do tend to look phoney. I’d settle for corporations whose leaders, employees, and shareholders share a vision, values, and ethics. Corporations that, in addition to earning a fair profit, strive to make life happier, easier, and more sustainable. Corporations that trade value for value, instead of sucking the life-blood out of their employees and the communities in which they are situated. Some do these things better than others. I think the one I’ve worked for, for nearly 25 years, is one.

    I think most companies, though, should learn to strike a better balance when it comes to “socializing” on the Internet. The constant marketing puts people off, and attempts to make it more “personal” (as opposed to “personally relevant”) can come across as creepy, pushy, and insincere. Most companies aren’t, and will never be, your “friend.” Some go above and beyond in service to customers, and those are the ones you might WANT as friends. Some know how to personify their brand and entertain, and that’s okay – I love it when brands (gently) tease each other and get playful, or genuinely interact with customers, and help boost their followers.

    Social media is just that. A place to hang out and socialize. Not a place where we go to be bombarded with sales pitches, ads, and “connections” to brands. That brands have hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter is weird to me, in a way. As they gain celebrity status, the USA moves deeper into becoming an oligarchy. People connect with brands, I think, the way they want to rub elbows with the rich and powerful – as if some of it will wear off on them. I connect for two reasons, implied above: They go above and beyond when I need support or product info, or they are genuinely entertaining/playful/interacting to lift their customers up. NOT to inflict sales pitches on them. That’s what ads and commercials are for.

    Those playing a numbers game haven’t caught on to how EASY it is to build up the followers on Twitter, but how futile it is for spreading a message, a call to action, or having any sort of social life on social media. Just ask for followers or mention buying them (even in a negative way). The algorithms will respond. The others out there playing the numbers game will respond. F4F. Follow for follow. “I follow back.” Blah blah blah. And then a few real folks fall for it and feel badly when it doesn’t get them anything like the results they want. I check every account before following back. My criteria go something like this:

    – Do they interact and sound like actual humans? (+1)
    – Are they interesting? (+2)
    – Are they mean-spirited, hateful, racist, callous? (-15)
    – Do they share, support, uplift others? (+5)
    – Do they EVER compose a genuine tweet or post on their own, or are they only sharing from one site or retweeting OTHERS? (+5, -5 – the ones that look OVERLY “generous” are just building their base for something sleazy or nefarious)

    This isn’t an exhaustive list of what goes through my head when I choose to follow or follow back, but it hits the main points.

    What I’ve noticed is that many of the people I’ve been connected to for many years have abandoned their accounts. A few appear to have been hacked and repurposed, since then, and that’s a bit scary. I tell people to go to the main social media platforms and see if they can still access their accounts; if they don’t want them anymore, they should make sure their passwords are secure and either update them regularly or delete the accounts. I dislike those “Who’s not following me back?” apps – but they ARE useful for pruning the abandoned accounts, the ones that haven’t tweeted anything in YEARS. If it’s someone I know well outside of Twitter, I may ask them if they’re still around, just reading, but pretty much have no qualms about unfollowing anyone who hasn’t tweeted in a year or more. As for the others, the ones that I’m still following but who don’t follow me back, I ask MYSELF if I’m still interested in what they’re tweeting, or care enough about them that I might be. (In other words, I don’t hang on their every word. They may imagine that I do, but people have conversations all the time that I’m not a part of – why should Twitter be any different? You want MY attention, SPECIFICALLY? You do what YOU do – you @ mention a person! You’re doing it right, Mitch. We could both do more of it, and it’s not a bad word to have for 2020.)

    A LOT of ordinary people admit that they have “sock puppet accounts” that are automated and spewing their marketing messages on autopilot and don’t care who they turn off with it. (Are those businesses, with their CLEAR lack of respect for POTENTIAL customers, businesses you’d want to do business with, if you had a choice?)

    Your approach is a great one: “What I did was start sharing more content from people I didn’t talk to all that often. It was pretty good content; I didn’t share things I didn’t read. Obviously I included their Twitter handle so they’d know it was shared if they were paying attention. At that point, they had two options; ignore or do… something! I mean really, like, retweet, say thanks… anything!”

    You already know what the problem is – those overpowered accounts with tens or hundreds of thousands of followers, they can’t socialize unless they have a social media STAFF. They simply cannot keep up, and have mostly given up trying to. They’re celebrities now; we’re beneath their notice. OR, they built themselves up to LOOK like celebrities, turned on autopilot, and can’t be bothered to try, anymore.

    I really think that having fewer followers, but the kind who still give a damn, is a better way to approach it if you’re trying to market yourself and your services.

    You want to see some good examples of people with a bazillion followers, who can’t personally interact with each and every one, but who are – in my opinion – doing social media in a way that doesn’t ruin it? John Legere (more on Instagram than Twitter), with his “slow-cooker Sundays” and his incessantly magenta personality. Sir Richard Branson (mostly on LinkedIn), sharing his sense of humor along with some very human business tips. If you’re following any of these accounts with many other followers, ask yourself WHY? REALLY. Dig for an honest answer. It has to be something more than “Because I want to see how they do it,” because if there was more to it than that, you’d already know how.

    You’re on the right track, here: I view LinkedIn as the place to market professional skills and experience. It doesn’t hurt, if you’re sharing good content (yours AND theirs) to socialize more and get to know what needs they’re looking to fill.

    Twitter and Facebook, IF you’re connected to accounts within the target industry (and by that, I mean executives and hiring managers, not the “brand” accounts), can be good places to share relevant blog posts. The rest of us just want to hang out with YOU, and read blog posts about…you. I am NOT your customer, and probably never will be. But who knows, Mitch – at some point, I may be “socializing” (online or offline) with someone who is. And I’ll think, “Wow, I know who I need to introduce to you!” and that’s not marketing. That’s having and maintaining a social network of friends who know enough about you, and CARE enough about you, to recommend you if a great opportunity arises. It may never “pay off,” but that’s not how you do networking among family and friends. You don’t do it for the payoff, or they’ll sense they’re just your stepping stone to greatness and you won’t be the one they recommend. NOBODY likes to feel USED. Most people like to imagine they’re useful to others, though. Too many people can’t figure out that there’s a difference.

    The good news, Mitch? I’m sensing a renaissance among bloggers who are in it for fun and socialization. Or maybe I’ve just given up hanging with the big boys; me, with my “weirdly competitive” side, trying to make it to the Top 10 or whatever. (You notice, I’m coming closer and closer by the day! LOL Which only says to me that the Internet as a whole is a @#$%ing wasteland of abandoned sites, if my 9 blog subscribers and meager search engine traffic have me hovering around 35K on you know where… But rather than finding this depressing, at all, I view it as a chance to be part of that renaissance! It’s our time to shine! The “Make-Money-Online-While-You-Sleep” folks have given up and died! Long live humans!)

    Thanks for the mention, Mitch. It’s not hard to socialize when you hang out with the right people. 😉 It’s not that we don’t know how to socialize, I think, but that too many other people have forgotten how – or retreated into their own little groups and are afraid to come out and play. Let’s invite them in. I’m going to post this (and you know it’s okay to edit if I’ve left a snippet of your post in my reply), and then I’m going to go out there and share it. Let’s start something, in 2020.

    1. First, this is a superb comment Holly! This goes beyond description, but it shows how socialization can occur when people actually care and have something to say. I doubt I’ll be able to say as much in return, but we’ll see what can be produced. lol

      I totally agree that certain words and phrases get co-opted way too often, then their true meanings get ignored by most of the people who are using the word. Remember back in the day how so many gurus used to say “respond to comments”? These days, more and more of them not only don’t respond to comments but many have turned them off. I see that as taking people for granted; I’m sure Seth Godin sees it differently, but the majority of people I see doing it aren’t quite as prominent of a personality as he is.

      I can’t remember if it’s KFC or Burger King, but the Twitter account of one of those is pretty funny and engaging with people. I also like companies who use their Twitter account for customer service issues; I think that puts them way ahead of their competitors.

      The funny thing about these companies you’re talking about is that it’s not really companies that are doing it… well, I could be wrong there because I’ve never followed a company… but it’s “regular” people like you and I who are pumping out all this stuff at a ridiculous level. I’ve put out 168,000 tweets in 11 years, but I also talk to a lot of people and conversations are sometimes fairly lengthy. There’s this guy who I stopped following over the summer because his posting was overwhelming; he’s put out 418,000 tweets in 7 ½ years, but hasn’t talked to anyone in at least a year. That’s the kind of thing I see all the time, and it gets in the way of trying to see what someone without that much marketing is saying.

      As I said, I’ve never connected with a brand, which is why I didn’t create a brand page on LinkedIn or Twitter (though I have a business page on Facebook, but almost everyone who’s following is is someone I’m personally connected to lol). Yet, I am connected to a couple of local organizations that I support because I feel it’s important to be a part of the community… even if I’m barely part of it. lol Still, I’ve recommended to a lot of local restaurants and shops that they should have accounts on Twitter and offer specials to help drive people through their doors. Actually, my favorite bakery sometimes reaches out and thanks me for buying their pastries & sharing pictures of them on Instagram; talk about socialization with patrons!

      You’re also correct once again, the numbers of connections might be astronomical, but at that level how does anyone verify that they’re actually reaching readers, which is what I want. To get true customers, they need to be consuming what I write or put out on video; without that, their sharing, if it happens, doesn’t mean that much.

      I think the overpowered accounts, as you call them, are for the most part truly automated more than their having lots of employees. It only takes a few dollars to hire a VA in another country to pop those things out by the hundreds without any true accountability, and I doubt any of them are checking their metrics. Then again, there are guys like Neil Patel, who puts out a lot of great content, that has lots of employees but rarely responds to anything after the first published day on his blog. I never see him on Twitter anymore, but with 343,000 followers it’s hard to blame him for that… and his stuff is so good and valuable to people I’m connected to that I’d hate myself for not sharing some of it.

      For someone like me, working for myself, marketing for myself, speaking for myself, I’d never get anything done if I were following that many people. I’d also probably be a much more jaded person because I’d be seeing a lot of things that would depress or get me angry than educate or uplift me. Unfortunately that’s the world we’re living in today; sigh…

      I see myself as still being “weirdly competitive”, but not to the degree that I was when I first got online. For my main business, I’m proud that for 14 or 15 years my main search terms are still in the top 5 of businesses that do what I do (I don’t count job sites; those weasels!) and that the first video I put on my business site is the highest ranked for its topic (and the only one actually on that topic after all these years).

      I have my business goals, which I talked about on my latest business YouTube video, along with my personal YouTube following, but that’s about it at the present time. I know “our” type of blogging doesn’t have a chance to make a top 10 anything these days, let alone a top 50 unless it’s a personal list that one of our friends put together. That so many people are calling themselves bloggers without actually blogging clutters up the field and, in a way, kills the word “blogger” like marketers killed the word “engagement”. So be it; we be who we are, right? 🙂

  3. Thanks! I like to see “engagement,” “interaction,” and “responding to comments” as one real and extraordinarily ordinary thing between people: conversation.

    I know what you mean about those fast-food Twitter accounts; that’s what I had in mind, too, when I mentioned them playing and teasing each other. Competitive, but not nasty. Like, hey, maybe they know we’re not going to eat Big Macs or Whoppers or Extra Crispy Wings EVERY day of the week, and don’t want their Twitter accounts to leave a bad taste in our mouths. They’re smart enough to strive for “memorable” without being too greedy.

    Bloggers who turn off comments fall into one or more of the following categories, I think:

    – They have no clue how to deal with spammers and trolls, and have given up trying;
    – They fancy themselves “online journalists,” “news outlets,” “eZines,” or other broadcast media;
    – They want to be those things, and think emulation of HuffPo or Infowars will get them there;
    – They like to hear themselves talk, imagine others hang on their every word, and honestly don’t care about readers;
    – They are bona fide celebrities or brands that can’t possibly have a “relationship” of any sort with everyone who follows them, without the expense of a well-trained, well-paid, social media team.

    Good God. I’ve only put out about 35K tweets in 11 years!! Maybe that’s why I can’t break 6K followers. They never see my tweets through the fog of floof put out by the autobots. “Regular” people don’t “pump out content” like that. 418,000 / 8 = 52,250, or more than 1000 tweets per week, consistently, every freaking year. That’s not normal, unless you’re automating a LOT. Or maybe you don’t have a life outside of Twitter…

    I’m going to be really frank for a minute: If 45’s tweets are his own, and I suspect far too many of them are, where does he find time to do anything else, like lead and govern a country? If his tweets are NOT his own, who’s writing them? Normally, in a position like his, it would be a staff writer and they’d be reviewed and vetted before going out. (Pretty sure the ones coming from the “official” POTUS account are; you can tell they’re definitely not written by the same person, but no one reads those, do they? They watch the personal account like rubberneckers flocking to a grisly train-wreck.)

    Corporations, on the other hand, have STAFF. It may be a fairly small team, but the communications are strategic and well-planned. The staff is usually trained and well versed on the “voice” of the brand. THEY can put out thousands of tweets in a week; that is their day job, but it is not the primary business and they are focused on this one aspect of it.

    Funny you should mention Instagram. I started following a local Chamber of Commerce, then some of the more active local businesses. They followed me back. I’m noticing a growing little network there. (Some of them are getting on my last nerve, though – they’re aggressively following all of Instagram’s suggestions, you know the “Hey, so and so is new, here, why don’t you follow them?” when so and so also happens to be “new” because they’re some spam/scam account and there’s a REASON they have no followers! Gotta love newbies… I’m suddenly having to fend off a LOT of those fake military men and doting single dads as a result, and I’m thinking of dropping into some of these little mom and pop stores to offer a free social media training!) Anyway…

    Think local.

    Even then, good LUCK getting anyone to “consume” what you’re writing or putting on video. (Video is an odd beast. Personally, I rarely have the time or patience for it. I watch yours, you know, when I’m walking in the park. Listen, more like. I rarely watch, but it’s nice to see and hear you speak. The problem with video is that it’s not allowed in many offices – for reasons of bandwidth and productivity concerns. It takes too long – but then, I read fast. I lose patience. I read much faster than the normal speaking rate, even when I’m reading slowly and for comprehension. I just have no patience for video, most of the time. AND YET! It seems to be pretty popular with some folks. Are those folks in your “target demographic”? (There’s another term I despise. OK, Boomer…)

    You may be onto something, here, when you say “I’d also probably be a much more jaded person because I’d be seeing a lot of things that would depress or get me angry than educate or uplift me.”

    You know what *I* mean, when I say “weirdly competitive.” I’m more inclined to be a sole contributor or a collaborator, without much need to “compete” with others. But I’ll enter stupid contests if they look like FUN. I’ll try to outrank YOU on that site whose name ought not to be mentioned (it’s LISTENING, you know – ALL the TIME), but not because it’s going to amount to a hill of beans, let alone a million dollars. It’s a silly little challenge, and no one really “wins” or “loses” no matter who “wins” or “loses.” I’m still smugly amused by the fact that my first children’s book outranks a staid German corporation by the same name. 😉 And every time you tag me in a tweet of that interview we did, I know exactly what you’re telling me and I respond like one of Pavlov’s dogs. Who’s on Second? LOL

    What you say of bloggers is true of “writers” and “authors” as well. Self-publishing is alive and well, as are $497 “systems” for gaming Amazon and becoming an “overnight bestseller” (most of which also offer a huge risk of copyright/trademark infringement as you utilize Fiverr and other “public domain” text and art – I honestly can’t be bothered to explore that path to “success”).

    In other words, Mitch, there’s nothing at all wrong with who we are, and I believe that if we stay the course – stay true to who we ARE – we will win in the end, or at least be rewarded with a peaceful night’s sleep and be no worse for wear in the end.

    1. I hate thinking of responding to comments as “extraordinary”, but that seems to be the way of the world these days.

      I also totally agree with you on the types of people who turn off comments. I’m not sure if I like that less than when they switch to things like captcha or Disqus.

      As for how “few” tweets you’ve put out in 11 years, you’ve had a “real” job whereas I’ve been self employed, so I have to market myself and my work more than you do. Most of the people tweeting that much are either self employed or bots. However, I’ve always thought you should have been marketing your children’s books on a regular basis; first time I’ve mentioned it to you, but I think it would do you a lot of good.

      I don’t get the types of folks wanting to connect with me on Instagram like you do. I seem to attract one of two specific groups, though all of them involve very good looking women. One group are Asian women with very long legs; the other are very pretty and shapely women who usually have fewer than 10 images on their page. I check out everyone but follow none of them; I know I’m not the type to attract anyone that young and that good looking now… or ever! Lol

      Boomer; lol! Are you an actual boomer? I thought you were born after 1964, but of course I’ve never asked. In any case, I couldn’t really tell you where my demographic is on either channel. I figured it would have to do more with the content than anything else other than production value. Truthfully, I’m just a guy mostly sitting at my desk with a webcam spouting off to people. I’m also a guy with a keyboard cranking out regular content that’s usually for people who aren’t getting it right. Neither of those have a specific age group, which is why I thought topics over everything else.

      However, it’s also why I’m going to work LinkedIn more in 2020. I have specific topics for specific people in a specific area that I know needs my help, even if they don’t know they do. I don’t need lots of clients; I only need 3 or 4 every year and I’m good. Anything after that is more chocolate frosting… we both know how much I love that.

      Meanwhile… I’m still looking for those peaceful nights of sleep. These days I’ve found a way to sleep more, but it’s not quite peaceful. The only two nights of peaceful sleep I got in 2019 were two of the nights I stayed in a hotel while my cousin watched Mom; that’s a shame!

  4. Some days I’m extrovert. Sometimes introvert. But when it come to business, I think you have hit the nail on the head. I need to socialize more for sure! Great advice and good timing for me too!

    1. Thanks Rob. I’m more introvert than extrovert, but I have moments when I go for the gusto. 2020 needs to be more outgoing than in the past for me; I’m going to get it done. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *