The day was May 7, 2010. I had been blogging for about a month, trying to tweet on and off for about 4 months. I wasn’t having much luck. I think I had about 16 followers on Twitter, and my blog, I’m pretty sure, had tumbleweeds blowing over it. As I was doing my morning reading, I came upon a blog post by Chris Brogan, which itself was a response to something Tony Robbins had said. It was about how Native Americans used every part of the buffalo. I thought “Hmm, that’s interesting. I can tie that to integrated marketing, I think.” So I wrote a blog post during the first part of my lunch, then went off to eat.
When I came back from lunch, I had about 7 new followers and 2 comments on my post. This, in both cases, was completely unprecedented. “What is going ON??” I asked myself. I went over to Twitter, and there it was. Chris Brogan had tweeted out my post. In half an hour, my number of followers increased by nearly 50%.
My first reaction was, “Wow, I can’t believe that someone that important saw my post and tweeted it out!” My second thought was, “Wow…imagine being so influential that tweeting someone’s post out inspires people to follow that person. Just based on you tweeting about them.” I thought I kind of wanted to see what that was like.
You’ve been there, right?
With great power comes great responsibility
It’s 9 months later, give or take a couple of days, and there’s a lesson that I’ve learned particularly over the last 3-4 months that I really want to share with you.
If you’re shooting for that influence, or if you’re shooting for Social Media fame, you are asking for an immense amount of responsibility. Just as Spiderman thought that flying around was pretty cool at first, you will find a lot fulfillment from your successes in Social Media, no matter how big or small those might be. But also like Spiderman, you will be asked to be accountable to and for that power. You should not look at that responsibility, that accountability, as a burden. It’s in fact a tremendous gift. But you may not see it coming.
What success in this world means
There are lots of ways to find success in the world of Social Media, and each of those ways leads to a different kind of responsibility. For example:
If your blog is tweeted out by a big force in this space -> you are seen as moving up a ladder in the “this person knows what they’re talking about” category. People will ask you for advice and will trust you to continue to be a good resource.
If you are invited to write a guest post on someone’s site -> it’s like driving someone else’s car for the day. You’re representing everything that person has built. You are answerable to that person’s community. You are expected to provide the same level of content that the community has come to expect.
If you are put on a list -> you are like the smartest kid in class. People will see you as an increasingly bright candle, and they may come to you if they find that they are having problems getting their fire going.
What happens if you shrug it off
For awhile there, if you watch the Spiderman movies, Peter Parker decided that being Spiderman wasn’t such a good deal. He stopped showing up. He thought he was relieved for awhile. He thought he was happier – for a short while. But as crime increased and Spiderman wasn’t around, people started to lose faith. That’s how it is in Social Media, too. If you find success and someone in your community, someone who helped you get there, asks you for help, it is your responsibility, your obligation, and your pleasure to help them out.
That never stops, once you start.
Social Media can seem like a game. It’s called networking sometimes. It’s called community building sometimes. Ultimately though, if I had to put a word on it, I would say responsibility.
Once you build a community of blog readers, you’re responsible for continuing to be a valuable resource, not just via your posts but via your visits to theirs. Once you start building a following on Twitter, you’re responsible for making sure you are helping where and when you can.
The perks and the price
Is experiencing success in Social Media really nice at any level, however you may define it? Oh yes indeed. I still find it amazing that I can tweet something to no one in particular and people respond. I can start conversations now. People are reading my blog and are telling me it’s helping them. That’s awesome. It’s everything I envisioned Social Media could be.
It’s what goes on when you don’t see me on Twitter, or when you don’t see a post here, that matters the most though. Answering direct messages, emails, and comments to the best of my ability. Visiting peoples’ blogs, commenting, and promoting them. Encouraging others in their endeavors. It’s wonderful. It’s rewarding. It’s invigorating. And it is a LOT of time, a lot of things off the radar that you don’t see. It’s no frills stuff. It’s the stuff you don’t get put on lists for.
The more success you find in Social Media (so I would hypothesize), the more it’s “that stuff” taking the bulk of your time.
So, are you ready?
I am not saying this to dissuade you from pursuing everything you desire in this space. But for me, the time investment, the sense of responsibility borne of gratitude – that all came as a big surprise. I am not planning on changing my pathway and I have only thankfulness, no regrets. I just wanted to let you know, taking that first big step – it’s a lot more than what you might see on the surface. Are you ready? Come on, Spiderman. We’ve got some work to do.