A lot of times, people in this business, when asked to recount how they got to their current successful place, will tell a story about how they dabbled with this, dabbled with that, tried this, and then…BOOM! Everything made sense.
It could be that people tell stories like that as an homage to humility. Maybe it really did happen that way for all I know. But I think these stories can make people for whom that doesn’t happen feel kind of…not good. For example, when I was still trying to find my way in this world a few months ago, it seemed like every day there was a new post titled, perhaps, “How my first ever blog post got enough hits to knock out my server.” Meanwhile, I was posting 3-4 times a week and couldn’t get a single comment. I felt like a real slow poke.
Factually, I don’t know anyone who has joined Twitter within the last, let’s say…year or so, who has had that kind of “oh look what happened!” experience. Rather, their experiences seem more in line with what I experienced when I was getting started. Periods of frustration, of anger, of disappointment, of unmatched glory followed by feelings of agonizing defeat, and more.
So for those of you who are not finding the Social Media magic potion just yet, let me tell you a little bit about what my experience has been like. Needless to say, my title for this post is rather tongue in cheek!
Who am I? I have undergone three name changes on Twitter. I started as RealLifeMadMan. I decided that people weren’t Retweeting me because my username was too long, so I shortened it to RLMadMan. Nobody really knew what that stood for, but they were pretty nice about it. As some of you know, I recently lengthened my name again – to my actual name.
67…68…60? Around the end of June, I was trying with all of my might to get to 75 followers. I took a trip to Boston and seemed to get more followers without any tweeting than I did when I made a concerted effort. I would check and sometimes be all the way up to 68 followers, then I would plummet back down to 60 or 61. It was really a new kind of torture that I felt had been created just for me. Meanwhile, I was writing posts about how I knew that numbers really didn’t matter – I knew they didn’t matter. I also knew, though, that I had to have more than 5 people to talk to regularly to accomplish what I wanted, and still want, to accomplish.
I’ve made it! Wait, no. When I had hit about 200 followers, I was feeling on top of the world. I was getting a lot of great comments. So I decided I was ready to start a chat. The lovely Linda Machado and Lisa Alexander had my back the whole way. They were the only ones who came, however. I was flabbergasted and more than a little disappointed. I also gave up after just 2 tries.
Hello? Hello? Is this thing on? From the time I began to engage in Social Media, I was blogging at least 3-4 times a week. I tried to blog every day. I tried to blog on topics that seemed hot at the time. I tried to build comments I had made on other blogs into blog posts. I tried to be funny. I tried to be controversial. I literally could not get a single comment on my blog posts. You don’t hear a lot of people talking about a lack of comments. It’s painful and disconcerting! But I was there, my friends, for months and months.
Is it me? Even when the number of followers started going up, I was flat out unable to engage in conversations. In fact, I kind of felt like the conversation murderer. I would see an interesting conversation (often amongst big important people, because when you first start that’s who dominates your stream), I’d make a comment, and boom. The conversation would end. I checked my Twitter deodorant. I checked my Twitter toothpaste. I didn’t see what could be so offensive about what I was saying. Again, I was truly confuzzled.
I will say nice things until my fingers bleed. Since I was haphazardly killing conversations left and right, I decided to try to nice folks to distraction. This also often garnered zero responses. In fact, after my third week of “Friday Following” a few key people, I saw one of them post, “Man, it’s another Friday. We all hate #ff.” Surely they were talking directly to me, right?
Just in case you think I am now entirely full of myself, I want to state clearly, for all to see and hear, that I will always consider myself a newbie. I will always consider myself far behind the 8-ball. The reason for this is that I am, in comparison with others. The journey is never done.
Now, things have gotten a lot better for me. I have met a lot of wonderful people with whom I can chat on Twitter. I’ve started getting some lovely comments on my blog. But this is not a Rocky sort of success story. I can’t tell you that I now am a millionaire and am living in Florida, quietly sipping on amaretto sours. I can’t tell you that I have all of the big names on speed dial on my cell phone. I can’t tell you that I have as of yet mastered doing business transactions via Social Media. I can’t even tell you that I always get responses on Twitter. I still get ignored by the big names the majority of the time. And that’s cool. I’m 1 out of 150,000 or more. I have plenty of people to talk to now, so it doesn’t bother me.
What is the point of all of this? The point is that if some folks out there are making you feel like 48 hours should be enough time to get this all figured out, don’t buy it. To do this Social Media thing right, you need to pay the ticket man and hop into the roller coaster. It’s a crazy ride, and it’s a little different for everybody. It never ends. Each hill has interesting things for you to learn about yourself and the community you’re in and/or building. It does get better, eventually, if you hang in there.
I’ll let y’all know when I get that first cool million!
1st Image by Thais Rocha Gualberto. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/tata
2nd Image by Jenny Erickson. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/windchime