Why are the “social media elite” ignoring us?



I received an email this week from a reader who is struggling with a problem experienced by many social media newcomers. His question:

“How does a real unknown like me get the big name social media marketers to pay any attention to me?  They won’t give me the time of day.  I tweet to them and retweet their posts, talk about them on my blog, and don’t receive any acknowledgment. Am I just following the wrong people? Who would you recommend?”

The social web is an enigma. While many top marketers have built their careers touting the importance of “the conversation,” they have become so popular, they no longer have time to converse!

I’ve had the great fortune to meet many of the leaders in the field. And while we certainly have our share of iconic douchebags, the vast majority of these folks are hard-working, well-meaning professionals just trying to make a living.

It’s not always about the conversation

It’s a numbers game. At some point, the workload and crush of followers that comes with celebrity exceeds any human’s ability to engage in a meaningful way, no matter how willing they may be.

Even in my own little world on {grow} I am probably not as attentive as I used to be as blog subscribers and followers multiply.  What’s the option? Block people out … or slowly become less tuned-in?  I am succumbing to an inexorable corrosion of engagement like everyone else.  Some people probably think I’m ignoring them. One popular blogger once told me, “When you are standing in front of a stadium full of people, you can only slap hands with the people in the front row.”

Just because somebody is busy, it doesn’t necessarily make them a snob.  So my first recommendation is, don’t take it personally.  I doubt most people are intentionally ignoring you. Extend them some grace.

Looking for love in all the wrong places?

My second thought on this question — maybe the attention on the social media elite is mis-placed.

Many believe if they could only get their blog post tweeted by a social media superstar then everything would change!  This is a pervasive myth.  At some point I have been tweeted by about every leader in the field, including Guy Kawasaki and Alyssa Milano — who have enough followers to be small countries. After a short spike in traffic (Alyssa actually crashed the server), there was no lasting impact on the blog. I’m not exaggerating. I literally mean NONE. In fact after a Kawasaki tweet my blog subscriptions went down.

There is no shortcut to building a blog community. You have to work hard and create your own movement one reader at a time. Let’s use Dave as an example. By providing personal attention to him, I may create a lifetime fan who will actively engage with me and tell others, too. One connection with a self-proclaimed “unknown” will probably mean more to building the {grow} community than a dozen tweets from Chris Brogan.  That is a fact.

Start your own sphere of influence

When I started blogging, many people thought I was on a kamikaze mission by ignoring (or even challenging) the status quo.  But I don’t see it that way.  Why does the world need another suck-up regurgitating the same old blog topics week after week?  How many social media sycophants have gone on to stand out and create distinct value for their readers?

Spending all your time trying to get the attention of the big names is probably not going to have a business pay-off. So go make your own tribe.

There was a small band of beginning bloggers who supported each other when I first started out and we’re still friends today. Srini Rao wrote about this strategy beautifully last week. If you’re a blogging “baby,” go find some more beginners and support each other. As you learn and grow together, you’ll be your own network of A-List bloggers!

Don’t get caught up in keywords, SEO and Ad Age bloggers. Your key to lasting success is originality, and the key to orginality is having the courage to share your own wisdom.

Any way, that’s my take on it. What has your experience been? Are you successfully connecting with the social media leaders? Any impact?

All posts

  • Awesome as ever, Mark. I laughed reading your comment about Alyssa Milano–recently, I just about had a heart attack checking Woopra when I saw the surge of traffic to my little old blog. I found out Gary Vaynerchuk had posted a link to my little review of his new book (mainly because I somehow ended up being the first he’d seen). I laughed while it was happening because I was thinking, This is neat but will have no lasting effect whatsoever on my blog. And I was right! Glad to hear I’m not alone. You’re rockin it–if you used to engage more with people, I can’t imagine how.

  • Anonymous

    Your post is probably the most affirming “you’re going in the right direction gal” post I could have read, at just the right time. I’m taking pride in building my presence one person/one brick at a time. Thanks for confirming building things “one reader at a time” is just the ticket!

  • Thank you, thank you, for this little nugget of wisdom on a Sunday afternoon. Everyone is so focused on how Twitter can make them discoverable, but in my opinion its greatest value is in what it allows you to discover. I have learned and been inspired by so many articles, blogs and videos on Twitter that I would never have encountered otherwise.

  • “The social web is an enigma. While many top marketers have built their careers touting the importance of “the conversation,” they have become so popular, they no longer have time to converse!” I can see and understand why that would happen. Not nearly close to being a top blogger, but as my site gets busier I do find it more challenging to maintain the conversations; not only on my site, but on other platforms.

    Anyway, as for success with connecting with social media leaders… not so much. But at the same time I have not gone out of my way to do so. Much like you’ve talked about here, I all about collaboration and connecting with peers in supporting each other in our ventures.

    I’ve been able to do well so far with this and have made some strong relationships along the way… as it should be. 😉

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful advice!

  • I guess I’m wondering why Dave cares about getting the attention of the “big name social media marketers” in the first place? Though I confess, I fell victim to similar urges in the early days of my blogging and tweeting career. It wasn’t until Steve Rubel declined my Facebook request three years ago with a politely worded “I don’t FB friend people I don’t actually know” message that I realized I was barking up the wrong tree. Now, three years later, I’ve been a perfectly respectable online community based on mutual support, reciprocity and personal connection. They might not be Brogan and Kawasaki but they’re all VIPs to me.

  • Edited to say “built” a community, not “been.” I haz grammar!

  • Ha! Too funny. It’s fun to see happen any way, even though ti typically doe not make a difference. Thanks for your kind words, William!

  • That makes me feel great, Kaarina. Thanks for taking the time to tell me!

  • Beautifully said. That is such an important point Katherine. Twitter is my every day university. SO MUCH interesting stuff. Thanks for your comment.

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  • That is a fantastic strategy Michele. I’m glad you’re part of my tribe. You never know where it will lead! Thanks!

  • What a fantastic comment Stephanie. And I think you answered your own question : ) The social web is such a confusing and daunting place. It’s natural to look for leadership and in my opinion, leadership is sorely lacking. So the best thing is to carve your own path. Thanks!

  • Are you successfully connecting with the social media leaders? Any impact?

    No and no I think. If I have connected with any it’s by accident.

    I realised a few months ago that by always looking to the A-Listers we we’re missing great opportunities to work with people at the side of us. I try to encourage people to look around them, to see the potential in the relationships they are already forming, rather than pin hopes on an A-Lister’s acknowledgement.

  • I’d say who cares if the social media elite ignore you…and ask..

    Why are you tweeting and RT and commenting on blogs anyway?

    For recognition or acceptance? Get a life!

    It’s like receiving automated tweets or being followed by folks who want to sell you stuff…
    or re-tweeting a blog or story that you haven’t read. It’s all a bit hollow and you’re just chasing numbers.

    Mark as you put it…. ‘There is no shortcut to building a blog community. You have to work hard and create your own movement one reader at a time.’

    If you’re just chasing numbers then it will always feel a bit superficial..if I get one quality response from someone who wants to engage, then it all feels worthwhile. Most of often this response won’t even be online…one of my micro tribe will send an email or even better pick up the phone.

    Why I am taking the time to comment on this site ?

    The Grow community has a ‘good vibe,’ ….the content and tone of the conversation keeps bringing me back. Always worth the visit. All the best.

  • Mose

    He never calls, (sniff)… he never writes. (Sniff, sniff) I wait up nights …Mark you bastard. (Notice the non-capitalization! Pfffft!)

    Hey! Great advice.

    Mark, like you I know a lot of the SM folks and they are by and large fine genuine people. Like our buddy Mitch who I have known for a long time) The issue is, SM is not.

    If one writes a blog (or in my case a half dozen) the issue is, and always will be, being KNOWN for something, as opposed to being simply known. The numbers game and popularity contest bullshit is not worth the time it takes to think about.

    Start with your business model, what you are trying to achieve – work your plan! And probably not world domination! And start from the centre – you – in concentric circles out to an audience.

    Faith Popcorn (Ugh, did I just quote her?) coined a phrase called Icon Toppling. We just hate the “bigs” we envy them, constantly shake our heads and utter – “How did that putz (or putzette) get there?

    For the most part hard work and being somewhat first. Or they had a huge brand ported over to this space. Some even have written books !!! LOL

    I believe your success will come from the opportunities you afford others. Personally, if I wanted to be rich and famous I would have been a super model, or born to the Hilton family or slept with Tiger Woods. But alas, all those were not to be. However, to set the record straight, it is a lie I did NOT sleep with Ann Coulter! http://bit.ly/9Xi58R

    So I maintain my integrity, never suck up, never pander, never fawn and just carry on saying what I want, how I want and will take my lumps, or in some cases success.

    One Degree is a case in point – bought it a year ago and pissed almost every existing subscriber off. I knew I would. But I have slowly replaced them with folks and contributors who see the world the way I do. Latest stat – 87% of my traffic is new visitors. Numbers haven’t changed all that much but the churn has been interesting, encouraging and most of all FUN!. And I like where it is going – Twitter numbers have doubled with active followers who RT and converse and play. Also have been fortunate to meet (at least the local ones) quite a few folks in-da-flesh and cut a number of really nice deals!

    Net/net – stick to your knitting. Or, put out a sex tape.

  • This may sound crazy, but it all boils down to this for me: Stop trying to get, start trying to give. All the big bloggers share this as a tenet, yet for many they were so far ahead of the pack that when social media got all big in the britches, there were no other bloggers to follow. The elite were elite because of the market, not the blogger. Now there are thousands of us. I have found that the more I share, the more I get back. Honestly, commenting (here, or anywhere) is more about sharing my two cents than hoping anyone reads this and starts following me. If they do, that’s fantastic – the comment is a common denominator. If not, I don’t sweat it.

    As for hard work? Yep. Very hard. But worth every connection I have online. I consider a few top bloggers as acquaintances. But I consider several dozen as friends – much more than a passing tweet. I attribute it to sharing what I think.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I love that Ryah. Great comment!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    That is the most powerful and encouraging comment I have received in a long time Steve.

    Here’s another good reason to comment on blogs — for the money. : ) I have fomred countless business relationships with people from my blog community. Over time, those weak Twitter ties turn into stronger connections on the blog that lead to phone calls, meetings, and collaboration. Happens all the time. Blog rock.

    Thanks again for this very validating and uplifting comment!

  • Kim

    And the more people figure out how to manage social media, the less social and more commercialized it becomes. I had a blog not so long ago that I had had for nearly 4 years and let it go because the web had changed so drastically and I wasn’t even one of the ones who’d started out in the early aughties. Instead what I’d found was that because I was such an unknown my info (I was writing about trends) was getting used and I wasn’t getting credited. My traffic was building month over month year over year but I was going to have to turn myself into a little media empire to keep pace with the change.

    Not what I was going for. What’s nice about twitter is that there is a serendipty effect and it seems to work pretty well. Like finding this blog article: something I needed to hear that my twitter connection Kat Gordon turned me onto.

    It’s been a great addition to my life. But I haven’t tried to turn it into a commercial. Could be why I still like it so much!

    Now, my LinkedIn account, that’s a whole other story 😉

  • Hey Mark: I’ve been blogging (hard) for just a few months, but come from many years of professional writing, and on-line activity. My point? I don’t even KNOW who “elite” bloggers are.

    I think the “Social Media” community gets way too caught up in itself (ourselves). This is all “meta-blogging”, don’t you think? At some point, blogging about blogging is just not that important or interesting.

    I agree with your advice to build content & value…. I’d add: guest blog when you can and focus on an audience that is not already saturated with celebrity. If you are counting on re-tweets from brand names, it may be because your own brand is not adding anything unique to the conversation. Start by picking a new niche!

    Thanks for the insight.

  • Wow, two comments in two days; can you see me now?………

    Yes, I used to feel the same; I felt like I was putting in some effort and it was hit or miss if I was acknowledged. I would see these people totally plugged in and responding to others and I was thinking maybe I forgot my deodorant or something.

    But I do see the people w/ 10k plus following/followers and wonder how they can stay on top of it; how they can be organized enough to reach out to everyone. Yes, it is truly a numbers game so I have learned to not take it personally………..which wasn’t always easy because I’m a sensitive kind of guy………:).

    The one person who I certainly think is an ‘A’ lister and I will sing her praises as long as I’m in this arena is @GiniDietrich; she let me in and is about as genuine as you get. This was the door opener for me to meet and engage w/ some really fabulous people. Not only does she pull it off, it seems everyone loves her. More power to her.

    I’m learning as I go, but it still has been an interesting journey. Good post Mark.

  • Amen brother Mark. Amen. This is a real issue and I find that advice big bloggers give out whole sale doesnt work on smaller scale. Times they are a changing and what worked 5 yrs ago is no longer effective.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I have tried both. The knitting worked better for me. Certainly agree with you on Mitch. he wrngly gets characterized as a snob. A brilliant guy and a true professional. So nice hearing from you again! Thanks!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Awesome comment. You certainly get it and I hope I’m in your “friend tribe!” Glad you enjoyed the illustration. I have fun with those. It makes blogging just that much more challenging! : )

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Wow, you cover a lot of ground here! : ) You hit on a lot of hot topics but sound like you’ve found your course. There is this frenzied pressure on the social web and sometimes it is easy to be knocked off center. Glad you found your rudder, Kim!

  • Don’t get me wrong–a happy heart attack! 😉

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I agree but i do find blogging about blogging interesting so you’ll have to bear with me. The main reason is that blogs are EVOLVING and that is so very cool to see. If you’re new in these parts, i recommend my post of a few months ago about the Top 100 corproate blogs in the world. Shows immense diversity and energy in the space. That really has my attention as a consultant and teacher. Some people think blogs are passe. I think we are entering a golden age! Thanks for the great comment David!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    You picked a great one there. Gini is a constant inspiration to me. I have learned a lot about blogging and video from her. I have yet to meet her in person but think that will happen in 2011! I’m delighted you are commenting here Bill. The comments are always better than the orginal post and you are proof of that fact!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Honestly I don;t even read most of the big names any more so I’ll have to take your advice on that Dino! Thanks as always my friend!

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  • You kiddin’ me? Yes, you are a friend!

  • I think Dino was spot on with his Amen here Mark!

    In all honesty – I often go weeks without visiting the blogs of the “A-listers” that many people refer to. I have my own list of “A-listers” who fit the criteria that I deem worthy of being an “A-lister”.

    To me – you should focus on the people who’s work you read because you genuinely enjoy their voice, their content, their experience, their engagement and the impact they have on you. And these people aren’t always the big names you so often hear about.

    My A-listers are people who I’ve gotten to know and who have taken the time to get to know a little about me. They are those that support and encourage me. They are those that I learn from every time they publish a post. They are those who’s work I share because I honestly want to and am not looking for their attention or anything else for that matter.

    These people would include folks such as yourself Mark, or Danny Brown, Gini Dietrich, Marcus Sheridan, John Falchetto and numerous others who know how highly I think of them (I don’t want to fill up your entire page here by naming them all lol). These are the people who in my book do what an “A-lister” should and much more! They inspire me and by showing interest, they make me want to be a better blogger – and if that doesn’t count, then I don’t know what does.

    Focus on the blogs and bloggers who you think will be the next “elite”. For the one’s that are today may not be tomorrow.

    Focus on your own community. No matter who comments or who RT’s you – give them the time of day if they’ve given you some of theirs. The “A-listers” we often talk about had to start somewhere – they didn’t just become it over night. They started where many of us are today.

    Do what makes you feel comfortable. Focus on using your style and injecting your real life personality into your words. Allow people to feel there is a real person behind the blog – one that cares, one that listens, one that replies, one that is willing to help out, one that doesn’t give two sh**s about the numbers or the rankings – or at least not as a priority. Earn their trust and respect and you will see how far these people take you.

    I published a post today that touches upon “being overwhelmed” by all the good. As my blog grows – little by little – I have experienced a bit of this. And I can see why it becomes hard to keep up the conversation at times – luckily for me I don’t have that problem yet. I may become get a slower in replying or I may engage with less people on Twitter – but I don’t plan on changing my strategy (if you want to call it that) anytime soon. My strategy is mostly made up of common sense and little extra effort when needed. Managing Social Media or using it somewhat the way it’s meaning is intended doesn’t really take a PhD from Harvard.

    I think Danny Brown’s slogan says it best – “The Human Side of Media and the Social Side of Marketing”.

    Just my 4.5 cents ;).
    Thank you for sharing this interesting topic and the solid advice to accompany it. Hats off to you Mr. Schaefer – as usual!


  • Mark, your last paragraph is the secret sauce. You have to start somewhere. Find that niche with some other newbies and it will grow over time. Nice post!

  • Jeniferolson

    I love this post, Mark.

    I have to say that I’ve had conversations with just about all the “A-listers” at one time or another, but they probably weren’t even classified as such when I started following them. Still, I always try to read and comment on their blogs when I can, and I also try to ask intelligent questions about their work. Wonder of wonders, they usually respond when you don’t overwhelm them with requests for attention.

    On a personal note, I will always remember the kindness that Chris Brogan showed when I asked him to help a fellow tweeter one time, and the genuine interest Jeremiah Owyang showed in everyone at a Tweetup I attended, and the time a couple years ago when Brian Solis asked me for input on what it felt like to be a new peep. These are good people, but their load is enormous. Frankly, I’m amazed they are able to do so much.

    Point being, I think we can and should learn from these top performers, but we need to recognize they are human beings, too. There’s a limit to how many people they can engage at any one point in time. Meanwhile, there are lots of other great people out there just waiting for us to engage them! So as you say above, let’s focus on building our own tribes, one relationship at a time.

    Jenifer @jenajean

  • Brilliant as usual Mark. Let me embellish a bit. First Dave, you should appreciate that Mark is an A-Lister himself, though he might not admit it. Either way, you have reached him and he’s engaging with you right on his blog and lots of his readers are too. (Now, what was that problem again?)

    I remember thinking like you did, Dave, it’s natural, but it’s important to realize that if the social web has any value, then certainly one of its biggest is that WE ALL GET TO DECIDE WHO’S AN A-LISTER TO US, AS INDIVIDUALS, and who isn’t. It’s a huge mistake to think that the most famous, most popular are orders of magnitude more important than anyone else based on their audience size alone. We all should drop this obsession with numbers and volume. That’s an old mass media/retail way of thinking that’s not really appropriate to the social web. For one thing, it removes the notion of authority and subject matter expertise. There are plenty of A-listers I wouldn’t trust to change the oil in my car or run a bake sale. I mean, you should be evaluating them based on their areas of expertise–not assuming they’re worthy of your attention in general. And guess what, that’s what you should do with everyone. Remember that relevance thing? It’s relevance to YOU, not the other way around.

    As Mark says there are lots of high profile people who are very generous with their time, but it’s just impossible for them to talk to everyone who wants to talk to them. The numbers are against them. My advice is build yourself your own community of interest. Go find people with the same interests as you, and follow them and engage regardless of how many followers they have. If you do I think you’ll be pleased with the results, and you may even attract the attention of some higher profile folks once in a while. You’ve already proven it works.

  • Erica Allison

    So enjoyed this post, Mark! So true and Authentic – as always! To Dave, I will share the following:

    When I hopped onto the Twitter train less than a year ago (wow), I had not a clue about A-listers or anything other than what the hell was I going to tweet about? It wasn’t until I began blogging, reading other blogs (yours and Gini Dietrich’s among the first) that I got it. I began creating my own community of ideal people – people I’d like to meet in real life (soon!) and people that I can learn from (daily!). So far, I’ve got an awesome group of folks/tribe that I read, learn from, and share with on a daily basis. Along the way, I’ve bumped into my own version of A-Listers (you of course, Gini D, Ingrid, Danny B, John Falchetto, Dino and countless others) who enhance my view of things, teach me more about blogging and myself, and make this social media world – big as it is – that much more connected. Keep at it and don’t focus on everyone else’s A-List, go out and create your own. You never know where it will take you or who you might influence along the way.

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  • Thanks, Ingrid. I like this idea of your own personal A-List. That’s the spirit of the socialweb in action isn’t it. I can wait to read your blog post. Thanks for the wonderful comment. I appreciate the time and care you put into your engagement!

  • Thanks for contributing to the discussion, Mark.

  • Well said Jenifer. I have also had that experience. Thanks for joining in the dialogue!

  • Awesome comment Steve and thanks for your kind words. I prefer to operate in stealth mode though. : )

    I really admire the way the folks with gigantic groups of followers hold it together. I would probably be a lot more grouchy if I were them.

    Extremely good points about building your own tribe. That’s where I get 90% of the value on the social web … From the people I have met On the blog. Love engaging with top-notch thinkers like you! Thanks!

  • Thanks for sharing your heart on this Erica. You’re doing an awesome job on your blog. I am fans of all you name here but I do not believe that i Have checked out John’s blog yet. I know he has commented on {grow} a few times and I need to get to know him better based on your recommendation. Love the way we make new connections like that! Thank you!

  • I was hoping so. We seem to get along real well! It’s nice that we have also moved ahead to helping each other on a few things. All in a short period of time.

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  • Mario Vellandi

    I’ve been blogging since 07, made some friends and many acquaintances with “A-listers”, all are nice, a small number have unintentionally become vain & proud of their status or high subscriber/follower count. In the long run, a desire for fame, recognition and so on is a fruitless pursuit that just leads to an attachment to outcomes. My advice is to focus on the process of how blogging can make you think more critically, learn your trade & unique interests better, and use these lessons as case studies for clients. Screw the social media generalists, find your own particular niche discipline & industry and focus the mf hell on that. I have as well as others, and it’s made us smarter and speak more confidently on that passion we have (that’s now just better directed)

  • Agree, agree, and agree. I’ve made little to no effort to appeal to the top bloggers because I know that’s not what’s going to get me to where I want to be. First of all, I don’t want to be thrown a bone (no leftovers please) and I know that in order to build an audience I need to create content that is unique and relevant to the people I want to reach.

    Dan Zarrella posted recently on findings that indicated that Twitter profiles with higher than average followers engaged less with their followers. His conclusion was that “engagement” in social media was over-rated. The major flaw in this conclusion is that it didn’t consider the very phenomenon you describe here. As followers grow, engagement is just going to have to go down.

  • The fact that I was able to pick the brains of some of the very best people on the blogosphere and I was able to add my comment to their posts and met other people along the way has always been good for me. Although I appreciate it if they take the time to reply to my comment, I put them under no obligation to do so. In the blogging community, good things will come to those who work at sharing the love and wait…and wait…and wait. 😉

    – Wes –

  • I agree: love for and engagement with the top elite is a mistake; engage real thinkers who show sings of mentoring others.

  • I am just starting out too, and all I do is show up every single day and be myself. I have made some incredibly great connections, and I am very grateful to have meaningful exchanges with some of the people I have in my “tribe.” I have attracted some very nice followers on Twitter, and I would like to think that part of the reason is I have not been pushy about it. I have been active on Twitter since about November and so far have almost 225 followers.

    I joined a blogging group on Facebook that has led to me making more connections with other bloggers which really has been fantastic for me in terms of not only learning, but encouragement.

    I read and comment here everyday because Mark makes me think. He also is one of the kindest, most gracious people ever. I emailed him with something and he replied to my question that day. His answer was exactly right too!

    I have new blogs in my inbox this morning because I just look around and see what is out there. That is how I found this blog. That is how I found my personal A-List.

  • Mark – Thanks for the post. Thanks for recognizing a struggling blogger and also providing me with a great excuse to live my dream and let the chips fall where they will. The post with my name on it was cool, but the information you provided was priceless, a never to be forgotten part of my business career!

    Dave Wellman aka Doulos Marketing

  • Thanks for pointing this out. I like Dan’s work but find that he might not always apply common sense to the Interpretation of the data. Critical thinking is a rare commodity on the social web to begin with. Thanks for bringing this up.

  • Stephanie – I guess the whole “social media” thing got me starry-eyed too. Marks willingness to communicate with me and his willingness to teach this great lesson have been my “Steve Rubel” moment. I have learned what my heart has been trying to tell me from the start!

    Dave Wellman

  • Agree Wes that patience is certainly a virtue around here, especially when building a blog. In my book I articulate a path of success that includes surrounding yourself with targeted contacts, providing meaningful content and being authentically helpful. If you do that, and exhibit patience, you certainly will accrue business benefits. Thanks for your comment Wes.

  • Thanks for adding your view, Saul.

  • Thanks for the comment. I have read everyone and am glad to hear things from your prospective. Mark’s post and his comments have given me the excuse to be free and to build a following “one reader at a time.”

  • Certainly believe you have a bright future as a blog Nancy. You are willing to connect and learn authentically and humbly. Thanks for giving so much to the {grow} community,

  • It’s great that you stepped up and asked the question that many others were probably wondering about any way. Thanks for your contribution to the community Dave!

  • Good for you Mario. You seem to be a well-centered guy!

  • What great advice Mark. And so much truth in “touching the hands on the front row” I am by no stretch an A-lister yet I try to keep the people I follow manageable – though that is quickly becoming hard as I meet sooo many great people. A constant “juggleathon” showing them the same twitter love as before with Retweets/DMs/@. One thing to remember is that every @/RT is a seed. They see you. You may have to plant, water and fertilize many seeds before a bud peeks out – even then you still have to tend to it for it to grow.

    Another thought I’d add is that expectations get us every time. We can’t expect others to dance to our drum and react the same way we do, or EXPECT them to. We gain so much more when we reach out to collaborate, share, learn and form genuine relations because we’re interested in what they say than if we go in with ulterior motives. Even though just 140 characters people can detect ulterior motives. My advice would be — don’t use their (unintentional/intentional) slight to trip you up. Instead take it and use it to fuel your own train to being a big name! My train only has one car! *wink*

  • Rats, no world domination…taking off my self made cape

  • nnnnn

  • I always love your images, Mark.

    I’ve been thinking about this since Srinivas’s “Digital Babies” post – I quickly realized “important” people on Twitter weren’t going to pay attention to me, so I unwittingly switched my strategy to the one you describe here. It’s paid off – I love the people in my Twitter circle, so to speak, and I’m always looking for new members.

    I agree with Paul Flanigan too. It is more about what you give. And yet, when you’re first starting, it helps not to feel like you’re talking to yourself.

  • This is a great post Mark!

    I agree with your sentiment of some of the reasons people seek the ‘Elite’ out. But I have found often the Elite are wrong in their views and beliefs regarding Social. So I am ok with what is going on. Meaning the rock star talking head image helps their bank accounts more than businesses, brands and people. In my view significantly. Over time this will change when more studies and less success is shown. But because they cultivate this following of people who pay to see them speak, read their blogs and pay for their books, it is the price of fame. 45% of the population is suckers by DNA. It takes a lot to un-sucker them. But they will get there.

    Plus technology is changing mighty fast. The Rock Stars who had insight to use Twitter and Facebook and Fanboy Generating vehicles might not be as successful when we migrate or fracture into new platforms.

    I only read 3 or 4 of the AdAge 150 top 50 blogs. I don’t follow the Brogan’s or Solis’s on Twitter. I find the real value elsewhere. Just like I don’t listen to Britney Spears, Kanye West or Arcade Fire. Music for the masses to me is watered down and weak. I want a Picasso on my wall. or a Banksy. Not a Thomas Kinkade. To each their own.

    Are people upset they went to see Kanye in Concert and he didn’t come into the crowd and shake everyones hand? They need a dose of reality.

  • Just Me

    This has been probably one of the most helpful posts I’ve read to date on navigating social media. I do admit that I find myself a little hypnotized by the success of the social media superstars. But I don’t think it’s because I am trying to capture their attention so much as understand the strategy. In one breath, the Brogans and Shankmans will tell you it’s about providing value and education to your audience – not sharing every personal detail, and in the next they’ll tell you about their trip to Disney and their cat’s vet bill. All the social media A-listers will tell you it’s about sharing something original while post after retweet is just regurgitating the same stuff that I’ve seen a million times, just worded differently. And most of it, mind you, is based on principles I learned about marketing waaay before social media was even an itch in the web’s pants. Am I barking up the wrong tree in thinking that there is something to be learned from the A-listers and perhaps – there isn’t anymore?
    How do you even find an original voice in the din of all that is repititious around the social web? And how do you feel confident posting your perspective on a trending topic, when it feels like the social media elite belong to a gang that will quickly eat you up and spit you out should you disagree?

  • I just realized I commented before reading your comment Ingrid. Now I need to go back and make my comment longer!

  • Mark on my own blog I have a list of of around 35 blogs and sites that are my A list. In my smug egotistical vane snobby mind, that list blows the socks off the AdAge 150. I can say that here because this blog is listed along with Ingrid’s.

    Now you can print out my comment. Blow it up. Place it in a picture frame. And put it on your office wall next to your college degree(s) LOL.

  • Dino how much do you charge to write copy? You condensed my comment above into 2 lines. I think Ingrid and I need lessons.

  • Focus…there’s magic there. Great points, Mario–thanks.

  • Mark–

    What’s interesting is that despite your hat tip and link to Dave and his desire to get noticed, he hasn’t participated in this conversation. He had a golden opportunity to engage with people who have strong opinions based on the length of the comments and he’s hiding under a rock waiting for the next top blogger to find him. Based on this behavior, he doesn’t seem very motivated to do the work of building his blog or a following. At a minimum, he should have stopped by and thanked you for mentioning him and getting the link. (BTW, that’s just poor manners.)

    Happy Marketing,
    Heidi Cohen

  • Thanks for this post Mark. I am a novice to this whole ‘Listers’ list and really don’t know how to approach this. Although I have been blogging for the last four years, I have never taken seriously the thinking which emphasizes on the importance of building a knowledge-driven community. According to me it’s the power of social media which lets the elite be associated with their own habit of knowledge sharing, at the very fundamental level. If they do not do so, they will not have their opinion heard and their insights read (if they think PEOPLE). I think, on the integrated platform of web 2.0, where people, brands and opinions intersect, it’s quintessentially inevitable to overlook many little things that bring value to your own thoughts. If I talk of my own experience with people like you, Jay and Brogan, it’s been truly reciprocative and that too in a very friendly way. However, again, their is no denying, big names do count if you take short-cuts and your passion is jittery. In that case ‘Elite’ can play a very big role but that will fetch a short-term result and will represent social media as ‘FAD’. But it’s not so. It’s extending it’s reach and going beyond what anyone could perceive. It’s getting more and more democratic. One needs words and innovative insights. If you have these two, there is no boundary.

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  • An interesting post and enlightening exchange via the comments have given me a lot to contemplate this Monday morning…

    I am admittedly not an active Twitter engager, and I only subscribe to one blog. There are a number of reasons for this:

    1. My perspective on social media is different than 90+% of the active thought leaders because I don’t focus on the external applications of social media like marketing and sales. There are few people who regularly address the intra-organizational applications and implications like I do.

    2. My “target audience” is social media rookies in multiple disciplines/industries, not fellow advocates. Even as a relative unknown, I face huge time constraints, so I have to pick and choose my information sources as wisely – and widely – as possible.

    3. I want to offer unique insights, and I worry that if I read other thought leaders’ ideas too much, I could inadvertently share their perspective as my own. That may sound odd, but it’s true.

    4. This signal/noise ratio on Twitter is not manageable for me. When I first joined Twitter I followed a bunch of people, and the activity level and the drivel drove me nuts. I had to unfollow them all to get any work done and have some piece of mind!

    Which brings me to my biggest concern, which is related to the ideas discussed here but hasn’t been explicitly raised: in-group/out-group effects. I have never been particularly focused on being recognized by the elite, but I have noticed a clique effect in numerous circles – even those that may not be official A-listers. It’s seems there’s a set of normative expectations for how people should engage with each other (particularly via Twitter), and if you don’t do abide by them you’re somewhat ostracized as being “uncool.” Since I skirt the edge of several of these cliques, it’s always a bit uncomfortable to interact with the people in them.

    No matter how you define your tribe, it might be a good idea to remember to keep the boundaries permeable and not become too closed. As with any form of networking, you just never know what new opportunities can arise when you meet someone new.

    It’s also probably a good idea for us all to remember that the vast majority of professionals are still social media rookies and have no idea who any of us are – including the elites!

    Now time for me to return to toiling in relative obscurity…

    Courtney Hunt
    Founder, Social Media in Organizations (SMinOrgs) Community

  • Top 100 or Top 10? I just did a search and found a post from Jan about Top 10…

  • Just Me, what I found was that if you look outside yourself- for finding an original voice you will-well not be original.

    You are correct there is a lot of repetitive conversations swirling around online, that happens when a collective communicates. The thing is everyone has a slightly different way of saying it-whether it is in the voice, their language or their writing style.

    I make room knowing that each style will attract it’s own reader. That weird personal thing that happens in life when we hear same message but in a slightly different vein that now resonates for us.

    Why would you care if an A-lister-elite (in their mind) eat you up? It is an illusion. We are in the time of “One Person”. One person has a powerful effect when they are willing to own it and stand in that essence.

    It is the internal negative conversations and fears that cause us to doubt our own “One Person”.

    Is it easy, heck no. Maybe a better question would be “Is is worth it?”

    Remember the Emperor Had No Clothes? Who will be willing to call out when they see the evidence? It happens in every area of life-social media too!

    Mark is it fair for us to hold anyone out and judge them by our perspective? I agree with you-Grow your own tribe. It is in our looking at others tribes that we hold ourselves in judgment.

    Thank for starting a great conversation.

  • Wow. This was tremendous, plus you managed to find a way to integrate ‘iconic douchebags’ into the text, which that alone Mark was pretty dang awesome.

    What a subject though– this idea of connecting to “A-list” bloggers. Like you said Mark, I think it’s important we don’t get too upset with most of these folks. They’re doing what they can and are getting pulled in a thousand different directions.

    I think I’m most intrigued by your suggestion to ‘create your own sphere’. In the last few months, I’ve finally found my ‘inner sphere’ and I feel they’re the best dang people on Earth. Whether it’s Danny Brown or Gini Deitrich or Ingrid from NittyGriddy or Mark Harai or John Falchetto or others, these are people that think like me, work like me, and want me to succeed. And I’d go to battle with each of them any day of the week…..very powerful stuff.

    So thanks for such a clear and professional perspective on this Mark. Loved it.


  • He responded several times below as Doulos Marketing. Thanks, Heidi!

  • hehe…Lets just say I think about this shit a lot 🙂

  • Isabelle

    Excellent post!

  • KRCraft

    Well now that I’ve stopped laughing at that brilliant cartoon, I think I can type a comment.

    Great piece, Mark. I thought your advice to newbie bloggers was espcially sound. I’d like to riff off that a bit.

    Social Media got a lot more interesting and more valuable for me once I stopped following the self-proclaimed gurus, and started listening to the the Thought Leaders in my *own* industry were saying & sharing via Social Media. The ‘Inconic Douchebags’ might think they understand social business, but unless they understand my business, then much of what they have to offer only scratches the surface of my reality anyway.

    Instead, I found much greater value in turning away from those voices, and turning towards the brains who are driving change in specific areas of interest. Not a mumbo jumbo mish mash of voices singing, “We can change the whole world by putting their company on Facebook! Woot!”

    As Ingrid mentioned in her comment below, developing one’s own listening system helps greatly. Where she has an ‘A’ list, I have an ever changing ‘Left Column’. It’s all about finding your own ‘Magic Donkey’ which I wrote about here: http://thoughtelf.wordpress.com/2010/12/03/the-left-column-aka-my-own-magic-donkey/

    As you astutely pointed out, learning who to listen to, and who you really ant to share with is a dynamic process. Obviously, there are some SM voices worth listening to, (else I wouldn;t be reading and commenting on this most excellent post right now) ;> But, I do believe that understanding your own goals and interests is first and foremost, rather than putting too much energy into pulling on the skirts to get attention from those who might not know a damn thing about your core industry to begin with.

  • Some great advice here Mark and spot on in my opinion. Your A list bloggers didn’t get where they are at by being douchebags. On the contrary, they got there by pouring themselves into the lives of others and serving up value on a consistent basis.

    I’m just getting started on blogging seriously, and at times I get overwhelmed with giving the blog community what it deserves and running a business. This is a tremendous amount of work to say the least!

    I’ve had great success building community by connecting and building relationships with up and coming bloggers like Marcus Sheridan for example http://www.thesaleslion.com/. @Dave Wellman – Plug into this community in a meaningful way and watch what happens.

    Read the comments on this blog, check out the quality people here and I think this may just be ‘one’ answer you were looking for.

    Not to take anything away from you Mark. I come here to learn because you “get it” big time. But, as with all rising stars and thought leaders, time is just not on your side and I just appreciate the feedback you provide, time provided, and the insightful posts you consistently crank out.

    Good stuff Mark – cheers to you!

  • Personally, the power of commenting comes from the communities I encounter in the comments–sometimes providing even more benefit than I derive from the actual post. For instance, today’s comment section on this post led me to a post by @Paul Flanigan. I liked his comments here and I am guessing I’ll enjoy following his blog. Yet that relationship didn’t come because Mark Shaefer “made it so.” But Mark Shaefer’s community made it possible. Those circles of influence and fellowship are what matter to me. And the daily connection those interactions afford is far more important to me than growing my own blog or becoming a household name. Although Mimi Meredith does have a nice ring to it, dontchaknow.

  • Excellent post! As a newbie blogger, I have no idea if anyone’s even reading it or not. I’m still in the stage of trying to work out all the WordPress bells and whistles just to get the thing optimized for SEO, and then promoting it on my own through social media. I’m still working on the static page thing.

  • How do you create your amazing illustrations Mark? ; )

  • Michael Trow

    Hi Mark,

    As Jenn and others say, great post! This is a topic I often think about as I look to “establish myself”. You make good points and I think you are correct when you say that it is important to build your own following. “Online Fame” is something many seem to strive for but I agree that it could be better to be recognised by a smaller group gaining value from your postings.

    Can I ask, how many posts on average would you say gives a startup blog enough content for it to be taken to the next level of promotion? Or do you think it is a question of time?




    twitter @mike_trow

  • I hope people really absorb this post, Mark. It’s in line with something I’ve been talking about for the last several months because I had to learn it the hard way.

    You see, when I first signed up for Twitter, I went to the pages of people that Twitter recommends you follow. I went right down the list, clicking accounts like Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, some big name tweeters, etc. Then I started sending tweets, and nobody answered.

    “Hmm,” I thought. “Maybe I need to be more conversational.” The trick that very few people talk about is that when you are new to Twitter, you have no one but huge names to talk to. If 2 A-listers are talking and you try to jump in with your 7 followers, you very probably are not going to be incorporated into the conversation. This is not a hit at you, nor is it badmouthing the A-listers. They just don’t know you.

    Ultimately, the most important lesson to learn is that the “big names” are also people. When you tweet them or mention them on your blog site, you are layer 2,017 in the lasagna of people going after their attention. And as you say, Mark, the way an A-lister can make a difference for you is not just through a mention or an RT. It’s truly engaging with you. It’s commenting on your post, vouching for you in a crowd, things like that.

    The lure of the massive RT is kind of like finding the 7 cities of gold. You go out and look for it and all you find are a bunch of strange people you don’t understand 🙂

    Great post!

  • Just thought of something else, too. I am hardly the SM elite, and yet, if you use the Twitter-style RT to RT me, I don’t see it in Hootsuite. I’m missing you!

  • Jeniferolson

    HAHA “…layer 2,017 in the lasagna of people” is just so appropriate and too funny! I have to share this one. Thanks, Margie!


  • I came to this post via @NealSchaffer, so I suppose that makes me a new member of your tribe. A nice down-to-earth post that among other things asks: does size really matter in social media? Trick is, size is so relative. I’m reading through 80 comments thinking, hmm, this post was a home run. Others might revel in such numbers. So perhaps you measure your success by the company you keep, and from the engagement here you look to be in good company.

  • i believe we start with short blog posts, first of all. anything below the fold should be considered “Part Two”. write with passion, and relentlessly edit for brevity, constantly shortening paragraphs, sentences and phrases.

    second, use twitter and FB to engage, not your blog. a recent article on YouTube about the Laughing Baby is an example of YouTube getting more hits than any blog ever did, and we can use FB and Twitter to drive traffic, Twitter being much better at it than FB. ( statistics, analysis, and research indicate that it is the number one source for driving blog hits. ) you can also self promote to a blog without any ill feelings, it’s done by everyone. I include people in my TinyURL blog link, and they end up doing the work for me. ALSO: very important.. PROMOTE OTHER BLOGS on Twitter, they will reciprocate

    after driving the traffic, use Twitter to “sound conversational” with people, choose a different person on your timeline each hour, respond, say hello, make a comment. i am no prime example, but i at least engage… you are saying “so what”? but i had 600 mentions this Sunday yesterday, March 27th, and there was no way I could respond individually to each tweet. at the very most, i can “bundle” them and mention them in multiple enduser “mentions” or “Shoutouts” . to those who i failed to mention, maybe they never speak to me again, they think i am “stuck up” as you say, but my timeline, logic, and multiple examples of me engaging them would seem to tell them otherwise, i am in fact responding, and they understand i can’t get to them all.

    if you want mentions and notoriety on Twitter, you have to give it. i start #FF or #FollowFriday mentions on Wed or Thursday and by Friday, I have upwards of 1,000 mentions. does all that traffic cause headaches…?

    best headache i ever had.

    celebs are way overrated, and they don’t drive traffic, and the Tweeps they drive? are newbies and innactives and people who dont tweet much, build your base by being social.

    editor/author Sarcastic Sam I tweet at @Samuel_Clemons

  • Maybe I am missing the point or value of belonging to the “cool kids” clique, but isn’t there a whole bunch more people that are not Social Media Superstars than there are Social Media Superstars?

  • Holy Cow! That photo split my side open with laughter! LOL. Great work there.

    And as for the crux of your content…you’ve hit out of the park! I couldn’t agree with this outlook more! I think people need to stop looking up and start looking around.

    As you said, “My second thought on this question – maybe the attention on the social media elite is mis-placed. ”

    Yes. I definitely think it is.

  • Wow Heidi that seems awfully harsh since I have been in the conversation from the beginning. My name is Dave Wellman, my blog is http://www.doulosmarketing.com and my “handle” here in Mark’s comments is DoulosMarketing and my frist of several comments was posted an hour before you wrote this.

    I was looking for help, Mark was gracious to provide it and I am grateful to everyone who has sought to help. Sorry you missed that.

  • Marcus, I have talked about you for over a month (after reading about your pool blog). Just stopped by TheSalesLoin – awesome stuff!

  • Mark – I want to take time to thank you again and all the members or your “tribe.” The comments have been great and I have learn way more than I could have ever hoped. I am following new people, have a whole new group of blogs to make a part of my regular reading, and hope to make my way through the noise to a place where I can help others coming up in this industry the way you have helped me.

    All I can say is thanks again for your kindness and that of your tribe!

    Dave Wellman

  • Impossible to keep up with Ingrid Howie. It’s better just to sit back and watch. In fact, I think one day someone really smart is going to go around the blogosphere and compile all the comments she’s ever written, and turn them into some sick best selling SM and marketing book 😉

  • If you want your blog to be a success, you’d be better off taking the time you’re investing in “influencer” outreach and spend it on SEO. Influence is subjective and fleeting. SEO is objective and mostly permanent.

  • The other key is to not focus your attention on the “A-list” but rather build peer relationships with newer bloggers. Then, when that group starts to take off, you have a built-in success network. A rising tide lifts all boats.

  • Not to be presumptuous, but from my personal experience (not being social media elite, but having the size of my audience grow a bit in the last few years) I can also tell you that having a big online audience doesn’t always translate to gobs of money. I stay fairly isolated from the people who ReTweet me, comment, etc., because I’m working with clients trying to earn a living.

    When I get to the end of my day, I’ve got two kids to focus on. If I have energy and want to get back online at night, I only have a few hours to get work-work done (meeting with clients most of the day is insanely counter-productive, if you ask me), so the time to engage and interact is minimal.

    I keep up as much as I can, but it’s just not possible to get ’em all.

    And I don’t consider myself to be anywhere near the Kawasaki/Brogan/Vaynerchuk stratosphere. Maybe one day, but until then, I gotta earn a living.

  • Thanks Jay – you make good sense. Something I have learned to expect from you (I follow your blog too).


  • Just read an article about Gary V. on Inc’s site talking about how much time he spends steeping in the conversation.

    This guy is a beast! He lives and breathes tweets and pixels as can be witnessed in his response to the people who engage him on facebook, twitter or ustream or wherever else he’s lurking. But this guy, when I saw his presentation at Tony Robbin’s Ultimate Business Growth seminar hammers home the fact that you’ve gotta work your face off if you want crush it.

    No easy street, auto-pilot, B.S. from Gary.

    Most people aren’t willing to work as hard as I believe Gary does. This would be one reason why some guru’s won’t get back in touch with followers. The other part is if the guru can sense the follower is just totally lame and trying to “Get” instead of “give/offer” some kind of value to the guru themselves or the their readers.

    Another factor is how much work it takes to run a successful site. If the guru has a team helping, then there’s no really no excuse for not keeping a feel for the pulse of the market. If they’re a one or two man show, I totally sympathize with the overwhelm factor that can set in, and yet keeping your finger on the pulse of the market is what’s brung you to the dance and will keep you there.

    Thanks for the awesome post and advice!

  • It’s very beneficial to create your own “inner circle” with other newbies. I’ve done that and it has benefited me immensely. I recall a few members taking Darren Rowse’s 31 Days to a Better Blog. As I recall they really enjoyed the camaraderie.

  • great post, Mark. I could not agree more

  • You are one of those great friends I have had since the beginning of Twitter and although you have been a regular contributore on {grow}, I think this is one of your all-time best comments! Thanks Natasha!

  • This is a grat point Jenn. That’s why in my book I recommend that new folks put some time upfront in finding interesting and relevant people to follow. In fact I recommend shooting for about 200 becuse if you have less than that, it is going to be pretty boring … especially if one of the people you are following is ME! You rock! Thanks!

  • I was with you until Arcade Fire. I love Arcade Fire. Oh well, I believe that is the first time we disagreed right Howie? : ) I always love the boldness and passion of your comments. Good job man.

  • Boy this would make a great blog post in its own right and you bring up a lot of interesting points. The great thing about the social web is that there is constant renewal. Yes, there are some great orginal voices out there. I would start with the four folks who are regular columnists on {grow}, Stanford Smith, Neicole Crepeau, Srini Rao and Sidenyeve Matrix. I invited them to be regular writers because they are among the most original thinkers anywhere and they deserve to be heard. There are LOTS more out there who I would love to have as paid contributors if I could afford more. I guess it’s like Thurgood Marshall and porn. He said he would know it when he saw it. Same with orginiality! Keep loolking. There is a lot of good stuff out there! Don’t despair. Thanks for the great comment!

  • Heidi is a great pro and was trying to be helpful I’m sure. One best practice is to use photos and real names when possible on Twitter, comments etc. This helps the transparency for every one. Thanks Dave.

  • You’ve opened up a big topic there. I actually think the social web is about the most un-democratic institution around. I used to (naievly) hope and believe that it would be a great leveller, but that is not so. It amplifies extreme personalities. Gives undue power to spammers and SEO tricksters … perhaps over extremely great work. Any way, that will have to wait for another blog post : ) Thanks for your cotnribution to the discussion!

  • We need to talk. Seriously. INTERNAL uses of social media? Long overdue. I want to learn more.

    I wrote a blog post in 2009 called the social media country club. (http://www.businessesgrow.com/2009/09/21/the-social-media-country-club/)

    In this article I described the clubby and fortress-like tendencies of the people at the top. I figured I wrote my death sentence with this post but quite the opposite thing happened. Folks came forward and said, “thank goodness somebody finally said this!”

    Since then, I actually think some of this has diminshed somewhat because since 2009 the pool of bloggers and Twitter-ers has grown so much that the clubbiness is somewhat diluted.

    I also understand about not reading a lot of blogs. I have cut out almost all of my subscriptions for the same reason. I don;t want to be caught in the echo chamber. I don’t want to write or think like everybody else or even have patterns of thought start to work their way in.

    Would love to keep this discussion going offline?

  • Thanks for the thoughtful comment Michelle. To answer your question, I don’t like the repetitive conversations because they are so often wrong. Here’s an example. One very well-known company put out research with absolutely no statisitcal validation. In fact they were making a claim in one case based on the feedback of TWO respondents. Complete trash. Ad yet this study was re-tweeted 600 times. It was blogged about and discussed as if it were a fact and significant new contribution when in fact much of it was hooey. The lack of critical thinking on the social web is shocking sometimes, but again a refelction of society in general I guess. Thanks!

  • Glad you liked “iconic douchbag.” I have actually used dipshit, douchbag and whore in blog post headlines. I am working down my list. : )

  • Amen. Brilliant comment. Nothing I could add. Thanks!

  • Oh don’t tell me that. I want time to be on my side. I need to make it work Mark. Just need a system : ) … and a few more hours in the day. Thanks for your wonderful feedback and consistent support on {grow}!

  • Love this. I wrote about this topic two weeks ago: On Twitter No One can hear you scream: http://www.businessesgrow.com/2011/03/08/on-twitter-no-one-can-hear-you-scream/

    I agree totally that blog communities are where the action is! I have made more friends and connections on my blog in two years than in the last 20. Thanks Mimi!

  • Hang in there Debra. Remember there are some compelling business reasosn to blog even if nobody is reading it!

  • I don’t think there is any absolute number when it comes to number of blog posts, it takes to be succcessful, but I do think you need to have critical mass. You can’t just blog once a year and expect to build a community. I would shoot for at least once a month, and then try to build up from there to maybe once a week. I think the most important thing is your voice and content. If you focus on connecting with people, delivering meaningful content and being authentically helpful , you will fine! Hoep that helps.

  • You are an incredibly gifted writer! This is a wonderful personal tale. I am going to totally steal the lasagna of people idea. Thanks for this gift Margie.

  • Glad you found us here Joel. I suck when it comes to assigning goals to the blog. As logn as it keeps going in the right direction I’m happy. You’re right in that the community is the benefit. Every day is like Christmas. All these little gifts to open! Thanks for yours!

  • You know I have seen you around Twitter and am so glad you have stopped by to comment! All good points but I will say my mind has changed about engagement and blogs. I used to think that blgos were not covnersations, just a stream of comments. But I have also seen some amazing things happening on {grow}. People are meeting here and taking ti offline. They’re forming new collaborations and important business relationships. It’s starting to act like a REAL community. So my mind is changin on that. Thanks for all your wisdom today!

  • I guess it depends on how you define superstar : ) Since just about everyone on Twitter is a social media guru, you could argue the other way too!

  • Thanks for caring enough to comment Marlee. Much appreciated.

  • Exactly. Why didn’t I think of that? Perfectly said Jay.

  • I am so glad you commented on this Jason. You are certainly one of the guys I had in mind when I was writing this … the hard-working pro, not the douchebag. : )

    I’m getting a little taste of what you have been dealing with for a long time and effective engagement takes a lot of work. Admire what you have accomplished and hope you make a ton of money too.

    Ironic that we are all writing about the time it takes to engage … and still engaging. Appreciate it very much Jason!

  • I ended up writing a whole response post to this because my comment turned into a dissertation, but the first thing that jumped into my mind when I read the first part was “If the comments they’re leaving are like half the comments I see on fancy social media people’s blog and just say “Excellent post” no wonder people aren’t getting back to them. If you’re not leaving something that gives the person something to respond with other than “thanks” then no wonder no one’s getting back to you.

    With that said, I’ve had Chris Brogan and Guy Kawasaki tweet me before, and while it led to immense amount of traffic to the direct post they lead to, the vast majority of the traffic didn’t really explore or stick around. You’re much better off finding people who are smaller and in you’re field and partnering with them.

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  • Fancy meeting you here.

    P.S. You always leave good comments.

  • EeeeeeeK! I wasn’t sure how to respond to this…

    My first thoughts as I was reading was, “well, yeah, I’ve retweeted you and I add a “witty” comment here and there… Did you get back to me? No! Did others follow me from it? Hmm I don’t think so! But I continued reading this blog and see you explain yourself by saying “I am succumbing to an inexorable corrosion of engagement like everyone else. Some people probably think I’m ignoring them.” So, I forgive you ;o).

    “Why does the world need another suck-up regurgitating the same old blog topics week after week? How many social media sycophants have gone on to stand out and create distinct value for their readers?”

    I particularly liked this paragraph. Afterall, much of what we see is often reposted either by the author or someone else (lol I guess that would make sense). What I mean is, someone I started following on twitter recently, she’s a life coach come SM type person, anyway, she did a really good blog that I enjoyed and in fact I did retweet. However, about a week or less later, she tweeted it again, then again, then again… I really don’t like that and although I haven’t unfollowed her, I don’t read her really anymore.

    I’m still in the early days too, but I read what the “top” guys have to say and some I agree with and some I don’t. I also wonder how the people doing all the blogging and tweeting etc about SM make any money at all – when do they find the time to put their sage advice into practise for clients??? :o)

    My main point though is, I’ll be your pal, Dave!! We can suck up to each other, if ya like!

  • I’m more like the douchebag. : )

    It does get a bit tricky. Unless you have a staff to answer comments for you, as an audience and community grows, there’s no simple way to scale. Check any particular span of time of my Twitter stream and you’ll see constant @ messages. Scoble hates me for it. But that’s why I’m there: to participate.

    I’m the #1 commenter on my blog, as I should be. But I don’t reply to every comment. Especially not on travel days.

    I think the most salient point you made is that tweets and attention from the up and comers is way more important than my nod. Sure, I send traffic, but finding and cultivating fans is way better. Turning those fans into a community is the bigger game, and how I survive.

    Gotta go back to being a douchebag. : )

  • well as per my post today, make sure you credit the idea when you use it 🙂 Glad you liked the comment. As I told Jennifer, your posts inspire! 🙂

  • I agree that Gary is a machine. Probably has sacrificed a lot. It gets down to a matter of priorities and balance. For me, I’ll probably never “crush it” in a Gary V sense because I there are a lot of other family actiivities and charity projects that more important to me than another 10 tweets. He’ll be rich in his way, I’ll be rich in mine : ) Thanks Lewis.

  • Stunning post Mark, particularly your middle part on “in the wrong places”. Building a community means to build it with likeminds in my view. Calling on the big boys for this might not be the best place to start. I would rather like to call on those I can help and whom I can grow together with. The big boys will always come eventually, I am sure 🙂

    Thanks for a great inspiration to start my day. You know where this post will end up now ;), speak soon again here Mark 🙂

  • That’s a cool idea Torrey. Darren is full of great ideas.

  • Thanks, Lou.

  • I am not fancy in any way. I can assure you : )

    Sounds like you had the same experience with celebrity tweets. I think that is a pretty common theme! Thanks for taking the time to contribute Leslie. I look forward to your post!

  • A-ha! A tribe member for Dave! Thanks Rosie! And thanks for providing the good feedback too.

    The money thing is a tough one. Blogging takes a lot of time and the comments take more time than the blogging ; ) But at the end of the day, I have realized wonderful business benefits from blogging and amazing connections.

    On the thanking issue, you know I used to thank every single person who re-tweeted one of my posts. Then as the volume grew, that practice became annoying in people’s Twitter streams. I got complaints. So I stopped. So you can blame the Twitterverse for me being so impolite! Again, it’s a balance isn;t it?

    Thanks for provising such a thoughtful and well-written comment!

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  • Thanks, Mark.

    I see in the response to Leslie Joy you mention celebrity tweeters. When I first was on twitter I followed quite a lot of celebs. After awhile my view of twitter became tarnished as all it seemed to be was a celebrity playground where they tweeted to each other but us lesser mortals, while trying to engage with them, became ignored.

    Of course, I can see that their feeds would be inundated with comment, so, replying to each is too difficult. But then I thought, why am I even interested in this person, so I had a cull and got rid of them all apart from the lesser celebs that had, at some time or another, the good grace to acknowledge me (lol that sounds a bit pompous… memememememe!!!)

    I can also see what you’re saying about how your feed would look to thers if you just thanked folk. But you thanked me, and that’s what counts!

  • Thanks, Mark.

    I see in the response to Leslie Joy you mention celebrity tweeters. When I first was on twitter I followed quite a lot of celebs. After awhile my view of twitter became tarnished as all it seemed to be was a celebrity playground where they tweeted to each other but us lesser mortals, while trying to engage with them, became ignored.

    Of course, I can see that their feeds would be inundated with comment, so, replying to each is too difficult. But then I thought, why am I even interested in this person, so I had a cull and got rid of them all apart from the lesser celebs that had, at some time or another, the good grace to acknowledge me (lol that sounds a bit pompous… memememememe!!!)

    I can also see what you’re saying about how your feed would look to thers if you just thanked folk. But you thanked me, and that’s what counts!

  • Well, that makes two of us then. And I think it is too. And post is already up: http://www.socialmediamercenary.com/maybe-its-not-them-its-you

  • Christina Shaw

    Mark, So much learning and knowledge came out of this stream for me yesterday – big picture and tactical. I feel like the covers have been pulled off and the douchebags can no longer hide! (One even stopped by!) You have inspired me to write that post and have renewed my interest in finding my voice (and others) amidst the din. And to have found so many great people to follow and start my “left column”(Thanks @KRCraft!) – just awesome!

  • It’s an attitude, Chris, and yours is such that I doubt anyone would ever think of you that way. I just included you in a riff on this post as someone I think of as genuine and humble despite having achieved great recognition. Great post over here, by the by, on being appraised by people who don’t take the time to know you — http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/03/the-best-way-to-make-a-convincing-argument/. You and Mark are role models to me in this regard…please don’t stop!

  • Thanks so much for your kind comments. Sounds like you’re working on your own take on this? Look forward to it!

  • Hilarious. Always impressed when you find the time to comment. Thanks, from a douchebag in training. : )

  • I’d love to talk offline, Mark. I often feel like I live in a “tribe of one” : ), so it’d be great to connect.

    If you have time before we chat, you can get a sense of my perspective by visiting the SMinOrgs website (http://sminorgs.net), and particularly by reviewing Parts 1 and 2 of the Social Media Primer I’ve been developing (links to both blog and SlideShare versions are accessible via http://tiny.cc/SMinOrgsPrimer). SMinOrgs addresses external applications too, but that’s not our primary focus.

    My contact info is on the website. I look forward to hearing from you.

  • I agree with you there is no shoutcut to blogging success you have to treat your readers like kings and queens

  • Dave Choate

    Great article, Mark. It can be a difficult thing to have the patience required to create original content and doggedly put it out there, but as you say, you can’t count on Twitter mentions from Charlie Sheen to do much for you.

    It took me well over two years to build my personal sports blog up to the point where it was pulling down the kind of traffic I wanted, but by putting the content out there and engaging I made great friends and built a community. At the end of the day, that’s what’s important.

  • Thanks for the encouragement! I finally worked out the SEO thing last night, and in the process ran across one of your earlier. “On Twitter, No One Can Hear You Scream.” Loved it! It just reaffirmed my intent to keep blogging.

  • I needed this, Mark! Thank-you!!

    I’m trying so hard to keep up with everyone (I manage more than New England Multimedia’s social media!), I’m getting overwhelmed. Last night I was watching “Up” with our daughter while I tweeted, commented on blog posts, replied to comments, and caught up with a few folks on Facebook. She kept asking me to look at this scene or that, and I was getting crankier and crankier!

    I needed someone like you — who I genuinely look up to for many reasons (see “Organizations I Believe In” over on the right) — to set me free from the expectations I’ve put on myself.

  • Thanks Mark! I must have just had my morning coffee 🙂

  • It takes effort and it takes guts to yourself out there too. It has been worth it for me and it sounds like it’s been good for you too. Good to hear. Thanks for commenting.

  • Gosh Michelle I can certainly relate. We should talk soon and compare notes. Might be a good way to get to know each other and support each other better! Drop me an email and let’s set something up! In the mean time, hang I there!

  • @ProductDrew

    Well said. I know that you aren’t the first to say “Stop trying to get, start trying to give.”, but it’s such sound advice….and so needed by so many.

  • I know, I know. Late to the party. This is an awesome post Mark and one of the most popular of all time on Grow, if I’m not mistaken. Funny that a post on this topic should elicit such a mass response, which of course is wonderful – as are the sentiments of your piece.

    It’s all about small steps to a big change. And boy, has Grow become BIG!

  • MARK,

    Greetings from rural Australia.

    Loved this post.

    You’re spot on.

    I’ve NEVER benefitted from social media stars or Twitter stars who retweet my posts.

    For example.

    At the SocialMediaExaminer’s Blog Summit earlier this year, I sent a chat note to Jessamyn West asking her to please pass on to Denise Wakeman my admiration for her. At a pre-summit session, Denise inspired me to take my blog more seriously.

    In my chat note, I also included a link to my blog.

    To my utter surprise, Jessamyn not only read my note out at the end of her session, but also included the link address to my blog.

    Not one person came to visit my blog.

    Ditto for a Twitter follower who has 11,000 followers. He’s twice retweeted my blog posts.

    One retweet drew 2 peeks at the post. And that was it.

    I’ve come to realise, as you so poignantly point out, that people follow you because they feel a connection with what you have to say. Or what they can learn from you.

    Everyone is so over connected today, they no longer surf aimlessly for blog posts to read.

    If a post strikes a chord, they pay a visit.

    Where do I get most of my traffic?

    Some come from comments I leave on blogs. If my comment resonates, people will come to have a look.

    Some come from friends in my Twitter community.

    But most come from my customers. My tribe.

    My database is extensive and every email to them has a link to my blog. Because I have a personal relationship with just about all of my customers, they’re inspired to visit. Some subscribe. Others just revisit. 30 or more times!

    And I’ve built up my following just as you say. One visitor at a time.

    If someone resonates with your blog, they’ll come back for more. Just like real life. Friends are the men and women who respect each other and who want to stay in touch.

    Social media is hard work. And over hyped!

    I came here via a link from Michael Stelzner. And am so impressed with this content, I’ve subscribed.

    Lovely to meet you and I look forward to staying in touch.

    Best wishes and take care,


    Carol Jones
    Interface Pty Ltd
    Designers of The Fitz Like A Glove™ Ironing Board Cover

    Ironing Diva’s stories are at http://bit.ly/TheIroningDiva

  • MARK,

    Greetings from rural Australia.

    Loved this post.

    You’re spot on.

    I’ve NEVER benefitted from social media stars or Twitter stars who retweet my posts.

    For example.

    At the SocialMediaExaminer’s Blog Summit earlier this year, I sent a chat note to Jessamyn West asking her to please pass on to Denise Wakeman my admiration for her. At a pre-summit session, Denise inspired me to take my blog more seriously.

    In my chat note, I also included a link to my blog.

    To my utter surprise, Jessamyn not only read my note out at the end of her session, but also included the link address to my blog.

    Not one person came to visit my blog.

    Ditto for a Twitter follower who has 11,000 followers. He’s twice retweeted my blog posts.

    One retweet drew 2 peeks at the post. And that was it.

    I’ve come to realise, as you so poignantly point out, that people follow you because they feel a connection with what you have to say. Or what they can learn from you.

    Everyone is so over connected today, they no longer surf aimlessly for blog posts to read.

    If a post strikes a chord, they pay a visit.

    Where do I get most of my traffic?

    Some come from comments I leave on blogs. If my comment resonates, people will come to have a look.

    Some come from friends in my Twitter community.

    But most come from my customers. My tribe.

    My database is extensive and every email to them has a link to my blog. Because I have a personal relationship with just about all of my customers, they’re inspired to visit. Some subscribe. Others just revisit. 30 or more times!

    And I’ve built up my following just as you say. One visitor at a time.

    If someone resonates with your blog, they’ll come back for more. Just like real life. Friends are the men and women who respect each other and who want to stay in touch.

    Social media is hard work. And over hyped!

    I came here via a link from Michael Stelzner. And am so impressed with this content, I’ve subscribed.

    Lovely to meet you and I look forward to staying in touch.

    Best wishes and take care,


    Carol Jones
    Interface Pty Ltd
    Designers of The Fitz Like A Glove™ Ironing Board Cover

    Ironing Diva’s stories are at http://bit.ly/TheIroningDiva

  • Well glad to have you aboard Carol. Sounds like you have had a similar experience to me (and many others commenting here!) Look forward to your contributions to the community!

  • The popular of this post took me by surprise. I would say in terms of page views it is in the Top 25. Sometimes I KNOW I’m going to hit a nerve. Didn’t have that feeling on this one, so always learning! I struggled with the headline. Did not want to be too provocative but still wanted to be accurate and catchy. Any way, I’m not sure why it took off. It seems to be an emotion shared by a lot of people I guess. Thanks for stopping by Jon!

  • Susan

    Terrific post. Your wisdom applies to more aspects of life than just social media. Once the marketplace “gets” you and your gift (whether it’s a product or book or service or cure), the elite will find you. Think of those who worked at their craft for over a decade, and that next song, movie, painting or play catches on. Life changes on a dime.
    The elite of today may not be that tomorrow. A corollary: we must never forget where we came from. The smart “elite” in any field remember their roots and encourage the next generation.

  • Susan RoAne

    Terrific post. Your wisdom applies to more aspects of life than just social media. Once the marketplace “gets” you and your gift (whether it’s a product or book or service or cure), the elite will find you. Think of those who worked at their craft for over a decade, and that next song, movie, painting or play catches on. Life changes on a dime.
    The elite of today may not be that tomorrow. A corollary: we must never forget where we came from. The smart “elite” in any field remember their roots and encourage the next generation.

  • Off topic, Susan, but I wanted to let you know I’ve used and recommended your “How to Work a Room” book for many years and think of it often when I attend events. How fun to see you in cyberspace!

  • Kenny Rose

    As always. Your on point Mark. I agree. I like a lot of the A – list bloggers and have had some success actually engaging with some of them. I have had a comments on my blog from an A lister and RT from an author who is respected globally amongst the corporate elite and my blog only has 7 posts.

    I am new born in this space. But I have views I know a lot of people will not like. But I won’t apologize for being me. I will respect feedback and seek to understand other perspectives so I develop as a human being. But I understand ultimately people don’t want to hear my re-hash of an A listers “halo” they don’t care about that. They just want to read interesting, informative articles that help them grow or develop their business or provide insight they can use.

    I want to develop my own circle of influence but while I am doing it. I will give respect where it is due. And hopefully keep improving and refining my concepts and ideas until I achieve a similar level of success as those I admire and that will always include those who are not even part of the alphabet yet!!

  • I’ve continued reading the comments on this post but haven’t been able to respond to the great reflections and thoughts being shared.

    A theme that’s occurred to me is the role that serendipity plays in all of this. There is a certain mystery to drawing traffic to blogs that makes me shrug my shoulders and say “who knows?” when it comes to identifying the keys to success. But at the same time, I move forward, because “you never know…”


  • Mark W Schaefer

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom with the community Susan!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I love your passion. You are going to be an awesome blogger. You tell it like it is, always. You should leave a link to yoru blog so people can check you out. Might find some new tribe members! Thanks Kenny!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Twitter = connections through serendipity.
    Blogs = connections through sustained momentum

    … my take any way.

  • Arminda

    Huh. I guess I didn’t know I was supposed to feel left out of the “popular crowd.” Truthfully, I have so much fun engaging with folks who impact ME, and I really could care less about the opinions of those who behave with a middle school mentality.

  • I’m with you on that. I’ve made a lot of tremendous connections — lifetime connections — and I’ve never even looked at their klout score : ) Always nice to see you in the community Arminda. Look forward to seeing you at Social Slam!

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  • Bob

    When you wrote about a small group of beginning bloggers supporting each other, it made me think of a recent interview with an A-list movie star. He talked about how he started out in New York City broke, sharing rooms with a group of equally unknown actors. Many of his roomies also have had remarkable careers. Find a group of people with the same goals, and help each other take the next step forward.

  • I don’t get this world where “social media” has elite and they all have to know each other. Sounds kind of like high school

  • Great analogy Bob, thanks.

  • Hmmm!
    I unfollowed you on twitter yesterday, then refollowed.
    I clicked on this post and was smiling.
    I am a little older than a lot of the blog types, but I was thinking along the thoughts you posted.
    Started a blog this week, needs a lot work, but I’m doing it.
    So off to find a set of newbies that I can related to too.
    Best regards

  • You un… followed … me?

    I doubt you are older than me. I am in the 99th percentile of old bloggers. This is a statistical fact which I just made up but makes it no less valid.

  • Yeah, I think we get sucked into the numbers game and forget that meaningful connections are nurtured. In real life, we’re lucky to find a handful of really close friends. Those relationships are developed over years. I don’t see why people would think they can create really valuable connections without at least SOME genuine investment of work and time.

  • I have seen a few work like crazy to gain acceptance into those circles but to no avail. Here’s a great post that I think has relevance here: http://kikolani.com/kick-start-your-blog-by-embracing-the-nobodies.html?utm_source=PushingSocial&utm_medium=twitter

    In it Danny talks about the fact that strength and growth comes from collaborating with equals, not chasing after those who provide no benefit. That’s what this boils down to.

  • Anonymous

    I reply to many celebs and media giants, as well as retweet them and from time to time they respond. But I in no way think it’s a game changer. As you have noted in your article. These people are busy and have a lot of followers, so don’t expect a reply or recognition for your interest in them.
    Just take it for what it’s worth, a response from someone busy and popular when they have time or impetus to do so.
    I am slowing building a following on my own and it happens one person at a time. Just take a moment to thank your followers and respond to them when they have something to say to you (till you too become a superstar then hire a surf to tweet for you).
    It’s a long ride and you’re not in control of the throttle. Just sit back and it will happen if it happens.

  • I guess it’s either a personal failing or (by your article’s estimation) a spark of AWESOME but I made the same conclusion within 2 months of starting to tweet.

    I can never stand to be ignored and can usually find my own circle of friends in any crowd, so building my own community or joining a welcoming community instead was an instinct of mine. I feel that the web is just like the physical world: enough room for every clique 🙂

    Great post, Mark, and a reminder we need every couple months as tweeting, blogging, FB’ing Linked-Inners.

  • I found this post because my friend Jillian shared it on her Facebook. After reading the post, I signed up for your RSS feed, which will now deposit into my Google Reader. The reason I came, is because someone I like and respect recommended it. The reason I signed up, is because the post was innovative, topical, and well-written.

    In other words, none of the above happened because anyone was a “name.”

    { twitter = @danenow }

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  • I think that your post not only turned on a light for me, but it generated an approach and a purpose.
    Like surfing, get your level of newbee surfers and learn from afar watching the good ‘uns; and at the same time learn, laugh and let it rip!

    Thanks Mark and I am 56, but more like 40:)

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  • Dude, you *are* the elite.

  • Nothing is more rewarding than knowing that I helped somebody out there so it means a lot to me that you took the time to tell me. Thank you Billy!

  • If you surround yourself with interesting people (not spammers), try to engage with content that is interesting and offer to be helpful, it WILL happen. I have seen so many of my students and clients create business benefits that there is no reason it can’t work for anybody who gives it a legitimate try. Hang in there and good luck!

  • I always love to see your smiling face in the comment section Jillian. : ) But it is also a chilling reminder. A couple of times, people have asked why I am ignoring them. I had NO idea what they were talking about. In their minds they had reached out to me in some way but it completely went over my head, probably due to sheer volume.

    So when you say that you can;t stand to be ignored, that really resonates with me. Brings up fear actually. I don’t want to ignore anybody but there is no way to avoid it.

    Here’s an example of what I wonder about … if I put out a tweet that says “Had a great client meeting today!” I might get 25 tweets back and some of them will want details. In some cases I can’t supply details, or don’t have the time to supply details, or maybe don’t want to clog up the Twitterstream with 25 responses. So I wonder if people really expect a response on every tweet. They probably do! I hate the idea that I’m in the “asshole” category for some people but it’s probably unavoidable. : (

  • Hurray. Social media at its best! Thank you for following my blog and welcome to the community Dane!

  • Adjectives like “elite” or “expert” live in people’s heads but if you get to know me (and I hope you do Ari!) you will realize I am not an elite anything. I try to do good work and I’m blessed that people seem to enjoy it. That’s all there is to it.

  • You’re also modest.

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  • I think a lot of people believe the only way to be successful is to have thousands of followers and talk to the big guns. The question is, what does a big gun do for you? What is your mission? Why are you wanting to be in a social community? It seems so many people today think you have to show others success to be a success in a social community.

    To me, you just have to add value to those you do touch and thank those that add value to your mission. If you have a social strategy and a business plan…rather than just acting star struck or numbers hungry…I think it can create a much more powerful experience for all.

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  • Missed this post Mark, you can thank Brankica for sending me here. Great comments and as always, you’ve got me thinking… I do read some of the elite, keeps me honest to see what others have to say (outside the various echo chambers). For me it’s as much about what I’m learning, whether or not my comment or RT was ‘ignored” though I will admit, I notice… human nature.

    I think you nailed it at the end w/ building your own elite community via your own ideas, your own originality. That as much as anything else is what works.

    I’m mixed on the time thing: It’s strategy and TEHO; maybe some don’t want as much community; it’s not all about conversation and relationships, I get that. And if you publish something I do find valuable, I should just say thank you and move on. And yet… it can be done. Maybe blog less to engage more, if that’s your plan. YOU do so Mark; guest blogs, you reply, comment elsewhere, RT. IDK… I’m nowhere near as busy as the ‘elite’ and probably never will be; that said, if I ask for your time I will make the effort to give you a little in return, as that is part of my strategy. FWIW.

  • Type your reply…

  • Thanks for the honest assessment, Davina, and I agree!

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  • Thank you for your thoughts on this subject. Your mention of “originality” reminded me of a slightly different take on the stand-out-in-the-crowd journey. I see originals being (unfortunately) often way ahead of their time, and often lost in the timeline, until there is critical mass of awareness/acceptance. Many a great idea lost in space. One can bring uniqueness to the conversation, rather than being the first or the only. We can instead add value through our distinct, unique contribution to expand understanding and appreciation.

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  • Well said Marcia. Agree! That has been a theme of my blog.

  • This is a superb comment. It can be a trade-off. Time and numbers of followers versus community. You have to examine your goals. Thanks Andrew!

  • I agree, Andrew, and have been thinking a lot about this issue, especially when I see so many posts about clout/klout and influence. There are many small fish in this land of a thousand cyber-lakes who aspire to be big fish, either in the big pond or a a small one – but what we really need to do is to find the right pond to swim in. When we do, we’ll grow to the right size that works for us…

  • Love that perspective!!!!

  • Anonymous

    I have to thank Daniel Sharkov (@danielsharkov) AGAIN for sharing a great post. I’ve had my twitter accounts for a while, but I’m a super new blogger and this is extremely relevant to me. Twitter took me a while to really get into (and I admit that the unspoken rules still confuse me from time to time), so I haven’t really been consistent with it. Blogging has been something that I’ve wanted to do for years, but I’ve been very afraid for varying reasons: first was the fear of overexposure, second was the fear of embarrassment, and now it’s the fear of mediocrity.

    I want to just share my thoughts and ideas about stuff, without worrying about retweets, trackbacks and traffic. However, with a business to promote, I’ve been told that there are all these rules as to how to be a “successful” blogger. You must post consistently, your posts must not be too long (or too short), you shouldn’t talk about this, you should DEFINITELY talk about that…. so many rules it makes my head spin.

    Your post, Mark, has reaffirmed my belief that with the help of a few simple guidelines, I can pretty much to whatever I want. I know that there is someone out there who will appreciate me for exactly who I am and that my following will grow organically. I look forward to celebrating each small victory.


  • Great post Mark! Your post has encouraged & inspired me further to blog more frequently & be a professional blogger. What is your suggestion as in how many post a beginner should start with? Your suggestion is right as far as building communities are concerned & i am also applying the same formula on twitter too. Now i have started mutually following most of the persons who follow me on Twitter. I feel much better now 🙂

  • Hi Mark,

    I’ve asked the same question a few months back. Not that I’m completely being ignored, I actually have few “blogging giants” in my network on Facebook, but that’s it, they’re there. I’ve also recognized a few reasons to be true. So I asked a couple of blogging giants as to why some of them are too “seem so near yet so far” and guess what? I’ve got two completely opposite responses. One responded that I could be “asking the wrong question” or in this case, approaching the wrong person. While the other one told me that everyone has a value and he actually prefers to mingle with us, “commoners” which is really uncommon. If you visit his blog, you will see that he really responds and interacts with his readers and always takes time to “get to know” his readers – which is really rare. So yeah, I guess it’s not just YOU but it’s also about the person’s perception of himself, and others.

  • Thanks for passing along this insight Jonha. DIfferent strokes for different folks : )

  • That’s great, Harmanjit. There are many blogging tips in the archives of this blog if you look under the “blogging best practices” category. A good place to start.

    As far as how many to start, I think the best answer is ONE! : ) You just have to start and try to be consistent with your posts. Maybe aim for one per week?

  • Sorry to come to the party so late, but I loved the post. I completely agree with @PaulFlanigan:disqus ‘s comment.  Give. Give. Give. I have connected personally with the “social media elite” but I don’t do it for increased readership or because I expect anything – I actually do it because I appreciate their sentiments, their work and ideas and think my audience will appreciate. I think even busy “successful” people appreciate being recognized.  But, even when they do reply I don’t expect that it makes us best friends, of that they (or anyone else) “owes” me something for spreading their word (though a “thank you” IS good manners). I will say this: reply, comment on my blog, share a tweet and I will buy your book for myself and for the SMC whose board I sit on. Don’t respond? To your point,  I might still buy the book. I still might share your info with my audience. But my interest may wane and you’ve lost the opportunity to create a true advocate. However, Its important to remember that even though social media has a “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” mentality, we all reserve the right to engage and support those with whom WE choose…book or no book.
    Thanks for the great conversation starter.

  • When I first started blogging I had one real sole purpose – I wanted people to notice that I had something to say about the social media channel. It worked but it took a good length of time! Now I work in a great digital role, the blog is a fair success & I even occasionally get booked to speak about social media. I never stepped out and tried to get the attention of the ‘rock stars’ – instead I used them as a valuable source, heck I even challenge some on their thinking. Make your own name, have your own angle and work hard & you will see success. Like you say Mark, everyone else is too busy trying to give you a boost. I do have to say that some ‘rock stars’ take a lot and give little back, but like any industry there are always a strong % of d***heads.

  • Great perspective, Mike. Glad to see you’re having some success!

  • Very wise and sensible Tara. Thanks so much for sharing this perspective!

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  • Excellent points.  I’ve shared this on my G+ with my “circle of influence” as it were.  Great stuff 🙂

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  • Rebecca Leaman

    Your second thought is my thought, too.  Why chase the “elite” when there are so many fascinating “unknowns” to connect with?  No, seriously. Why? From an ROI perspective, it seems rather like banking on a lottery win for retirement income, and from a human perspective, it’s like going to a party and turning your back to the room.

  • great post. I have to agree with Paul on “Stop trying to get, start trying to give.” I don’t sit by the traffic counter after I share something via social media (blog comment) unless it’s a big campaign. I genuinely only want people that really want to follow, read, etc. 

  • Basically, for every 10 tweets I get a real follower – and I block the fakes. Not a bad metric since I’m cruising on fumes ( no money to “outsource”)  There’s an advantage to that too. I like to tweeter and I am try to have fun in the process.  I’m trying to learn.  I get a little zany but I try to tweet what I think is valuable information – in my field and what’s going on in the world.  Don’t worry about being too PC (not too much – you will know my mind).  I’m a contrarian.  Sometimes success has nothing to do with achievements and talent.  It’s just being lucky and being in the right place at the right time; and I have had spectacular success before.  It feels like its been forgotten now because we crashed and burned and I have to restart again.  So have others and I try not to get discouraged. I could be sitting under a pile of volcanic ash or the debris of a tsunami – that would be worse and my family is healthy.  I have good friends.

     I have enjoyed your contributions and hopefully I have something of value to offer you or your followers.  It’s just part of being a good citizen of the world and an astute business person in a changing world.  I’m not dead yet and my mind is open. Thanks for this post.  I’m pressing on.

  • Cool. Thanks Bobbi Jo!

  • Love that Rebecca.  Very true.  So many connections, so many possibilities!

  • Great attitude. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  • Thanks for adding your wisdom today Lisabeth!

  • Great post!  For someone that’s relatively new to blogging, I appreciated this post very much.  Thank you for sharing!

  • Bruce Conway

    Yes, the Golden Rule is pervading social media.  Marketing may be the last to pick up on it, but PR is also slow.  

    It is about the giving of ideas, but smart golden-rule-ers know that giving gets.

  • Bruce Conway

    Yes, the Golden Rule is pervading social media.  Marketing may be the last to pick up on it, but PR is also slow.  

    It is about the giving of ideas, but smart golden-rule-ers know that giving gets.

  • Bruce Conway

    Who wrote this article?  Might help to have an author name at top.

  • Bruce Conway

    Who wrote this article?  Might help to have an author name at top.

  • Which seems to be incredibly antithetical to the very nature of marketing and PR. Give. You’ll get.

  • Sedruola

    I loved this post because it helped solidify the thought process I was having with myself lately. I haven’t really tried to get “in” with the elite, but I wondered how to get to a place where I’d be that noticed. I’ve tried a few things and I’ve realized that the book I read last year, and need to re-read “Go Givers Sell More” is abundantly true. I’m now in a place where I simply provide value as I can to those with whom I’m connected and let my numbers grow organically from my work and effort in various ways.

    Thank you so much for helping this thought truly gel for me. I sincerely appreciate that simple thing.

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  • You & Paul have summed it up, give give give and then give some more.  Like Paul, I’ve found the more I share, not only on Twitter but on all social platforms, the more I get back.

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  • You are so right! You create a community with people like you and then go on the journey with them. It is the same with startup founders – the people that are your real support base who cheer you on and go through the lows and highs with you are your peers.

  • It’s my blog. I write the articles unless otherwise noted : )

  • Glad it helped. Thanks for letting me know!

  • Love that analogy. Thank you Susan.

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  • I can’t say I would even call experienced-bloggers “elite”. They are just “people” like you and me, but the difference is that they started before everyone else jumped in and got more established. I believe we can all learn from those that have “been there-done that” and turn that information into something that we can keep sharing with others. At the end of the day, people will retweet what interests “them” and if the content is good you will see others share it too.

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  • Great article!  I will have to share this with Don Stanley and my LSC432 class.  I think that my class and classes to come will greatly benefit from this.

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  • Jim Barry

    I felt the same way about the elite until I realized my intentions were to find where they hang out – not to become famous. i.e., Knowing what LinkedIn group discussions they support, for example, said a lot about the credibility of the dialog underway.That’s it! Many of the quick responses from the elite are merely cooking cutter “thank you valued customer,” for spending money on my conference and book. If you drop a notch in your cocktail party invites and communicate with social media colleagues instead, you may find more golden nuggets of wisdom while building a friendship in the process.

  • Nice insight Jim. I had not thought of it that way, but that is interesting

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