As we head towards the Spring “new show” season on television, I am lamenting the fact that I no longer have Lost around. Sure, there was a lot about the show that bugged the heck out of me. For example, why did we spent 2.5 seasons getting really deep into a character only to have him completely disappear for the last half of the show? That’s a mystery that the riveting conclusion did not even attempt to answer. Still, it was a fun show to complain about, a fun show to hypothesize about, and I got to be pretty good friends (or so it seemed) with the characters.
One of the characters from Lost has been on my mind lately. His name was John Locke (there was another character who went by Rousseau – my friends and I had a great time trying to figure out how the presence of two great philosophers would play out in the overall story line) and his catch phrase, if you will, was “Don’t tell me what I can and can’t do.”
In Social Media, this should be your mantra.
You’re an island in an archipelago
People tend to emphasize the word “social” in the phrase Social Media, but the reality is that in terms of executing your plans, building your brand, and achieving success, you’re on your own. You can talk to the other islands around you, but when push comes to shove, it’s just you who’s out for you.
This can be really, really easy to forget or overlook. After all, there are all kinds of people offering you advice. There are people who you think of as really powerful and successful, and they’ve all got a story about how they got there. It seems so easy to follow their path, stepping in the footprints that they left. It can be really easy to feel kind of intimidated if you think maybe you want to take a step off to the right.
Don’t let people tell you what you can and can’t do.
It worked for me. It might not work for you.
Social Media lends itself to thinking that you can paint by numbers. For example, when I was having massive problems getting anything but crickets to pass over my blog posts, I asked some people I respected what on earth I could do about it.
“Ask questions!” One person said. So I started ending all of my blog posts with a question mark. Nobody answered.
“Comment on another person’s blog regularly,” another person told me. I did that. And nothing changed.
What you find out is that you have to dig out your own strategy. You have to customize everything you do to your personality, your objectives, your readers, and your community. These pieces of advice I got worked well for the people that were trying to help me, but they didn’t work for me. They may or may not work for you.
Don’t ask what you can and can’t do
The sky and the ground are your limits in Social Media. There aren’t even agreements on best practices. One person’s spam is another person’s marketing campaign. Don’t be afraid to gather information or to ask for advice, but always look at it through the prism of that person’s experience. Don’t believe that anyone has all of the answers for you other than you. Don’t believe that what you are doing is “wrong” just because someone else thinks it’s silly. What matters is if what you’re doing works for you and what you’re trying to do.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Unless you want them to.