Winning Friends & Influencing People with Social Media

Poster ChildI’ve been feeling a bit like the poster child for social media with the new job. Just after landing it, I saw this awesome TED video by Gary Vaynerchuk on Do What You Love (no excuses!) and I thought my God, he’s talking about ME. When my old company got bought out a couple years ago and my job became… well, less challenging – I started looking for new ways to put my energy towards what I love – developing better software. I started getting more involved with the community and used my blog and twitter to stay connected. I wasn’t trying to make money. I was just, well, doing what I love. And next thing you know, Microsoft is offering to pay me actual real live money for it. Gary would be so proud.

So I was curious to see John Moore present at last night’s SPIN John Mooreon Using Social Media to Promote Thought Leadership. And I thought he had some great points – including the importance of blogging frequently (yeah yeah, I know, I suck at this one). So thought I’d take his advice and share some of the goodness that I took away from it.

Step #1: Define Your Goals

I know, obvious, right? But I think it’s not just something you do at the beginning, but something you should always be rethinking and adjusting. With the new job, I’m soo excited to get to work with startups and UX designers — I want to become not only a resource for these folks, but an outlet where I can share with the rest of you the awesomeness that I’m getting to see.

What are your goals and is what you’re doing with social media helping move you closer to them?

Step #2: Jump into their networks and LISTEN

Funny because I was just given this same advice by a coworker yesterday about getting involved in the startup community. Don’t just jump in with some message and expect everyone to listen and love you for it. I love Seth Godin’s Expose Yourself post about how, with social media, we can chose who we want to expose ourselves to and how we tend to become like those we surround ourselves with. So go ahead and start following those awesome people you admire and spend some time listening to them, sharing their goodness with others, and jumping into the conversation.

It Ain’t About # of Followers

I love what John said here, “# of followers doesn’t mean anything if you’re not engaging with them.”

John’s goal isn’t maximizing the number of people that read his blog posts, and he says it shouldn’t be yours either. What he really wants to do is to change the conversation. Get people talking about the topics he raises. Maximize the value people are getting out of what he’s doing. I like that, I think I’ll adopt it as an evangelist goal as well.

Quantity Over Quality if you want to be One of the Cool Kids

Okay, I hate this one and I bet you will too. John says studies show that if you want your blog to be popular then it’s best to blog every day, or at least 3-4 times/week, so you’re a continual source of information. A recent study found that:

“The more words a person had contributed, the more attractive they were rated by the other members of their community.”

Even if that means your quality goes down. Hmmm… I wonder if this is similar to the More Pots Make Us Better story, whereby sheer virtue of doing something soo many times, we end up getting pretty damn good at it. Better than we’d be if we got all OCD-perfectionist and tried to just do a single masterpiece.

You Don’t Really Have 5,000 Friends

Dunbar’s Number tells us there’s a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom we can actually maintain social relationships. And that number is about 150. After that point, you’re just not able to remember who all these people are. John’s advice?  Use tools like twitter’s lists to group people into buckets around why you want to engage them.

Nothing Beats Face-to-Face

I am probably the poster child not only for social media, but for meeting peeps on the Internet in general. I met my husband on a BBS in 1993 (someone once said to me but that was before the web, nobody met on the Internet back then!). There was that Dave Barry in Cyberspace book that came out in 1996 which I was sure he was talking about me because I think I spent the entire period from 1993-1995 without actually talking to a single person unless a keyboard was involved.

But, even so, there is nothing cooler for me then getting to meet you guys in person. And even if we only get to see each other once in a blue moon, I think it just makes the relationships that much stronger when you’ve gotten to have that experience of talking to the person in, well, person.

What do you get out of using social media? Do you think, when it comes to content, quantity rules over quality?


13 responses to “Winning Friends & Influencing People with Social Media”

  1. Sam Laing Avatar
    Sam Laing

    Awesome topic. I have a blog and I am on twitter(@samlaing). I am very passionate about what I post … It started off as being a learning tool for me, but now I would like to start influencing and helping other – so I need more followers.   
    Much like you the quantity over quality doesnt sit well with me … but I think I might try it. I’m sure when agile was introduced the thought of emergent design didn’t sit well with architects either  🙂   
    Good Luck with the new post – doing something you love is awesome  🙂  . Hopefully we will meet face-2-face oneday(South Africa is a beautiful country!)  

  2. Eric Nehrlich Avatar
    Eric Nehrlich

    I think quantity over quality works only if you maintain a threshold of quality.  Seth Godin’s ability to come up with a concise point to think about every day continues to amaze me.  But people that post every day without having anything to say just annoy me. 

    I think in a world of RSS, it’s less important to maintain the constant output, as I don’t have to manually check somebody’s page regularly to find out when they posted.  But this may just be me rationalizing as I rarely post to Twitter, let alone to my blog.  But I personally prefer reading people like danah boyd and Clay Shirky who post occasionally but make me think when they do.

  3. The Abbot of Unreason Avatar
    The Abbot of Unreason

    I think another way to describe the quantity over quality bullet is to fall back on core principles:  deliver smaller bits of value more often.  I don’t do the whole technical community thing bloggy-wise, but the problem when I’ve tried was the same as traditional development: big upfront design.  Instead of pushing out the thoughts in digestible pieces, I would always spend a lot of time on big story, multiple effect, novelization when all I really needed to do was provide a short story or poem to make the same point.  This took away time from delivering other value. 

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    This is a test

  5. Abby Fichtner Avatar
    Abby Fichtner

    haha, awesome point on the emergent design. I think I was one of the biggest opponents of it when XP first came out!  “You want me to do what?!”  😉

    Nice blog – I’m digging those home office pods.  I like how you have the menus for different topics, am pondering doing something similar here (part of why I left so much space at the top)…

    And thank you! Wow, South Africa sounds nice – I’ll see what I can do 🙂

  6. Abby Fichtner Avatar
    Abby Fichtner

    Huh, well, I’m glad to hear you say that.  Maybe it’s the rss readers I use, but I often find myself unsubsribing from blogs that post too much because I fear it makes me lose site of posts from other blogs I like that post less frequently.  

    I guess this is why it’s good to look up every now and then to see what others are doing rather than assume everyone is the same as you 😉

  7. Abby Fichtner Avatar
    Abby Fichtner

    yeah yeah, that’d pretty much describe what I do.  I keep saying I want my posts shorter but instead keep making them longer.  I’m working on it 😉

    BTW, unrelated question… do you get an email when I reply to your comments? 

  8. I agree that quality must be good enough, or most will eventually unsubscribe.

    I think the reason quantity is rated high is that it keeps your name in the reader’s mind. In my case I subscribe to a couple dozen tech blogs. Most I couldn’t name off the top of my head. The one’s I can are from those who post frequently (2-4 times per week.)

  9. Abby Fichtner Avatar
    Abby Fichtner

    Makes sense… thanks for taking the time to say so!  I will take this as another +1 for my breaking posts up into shorter, more frequent…

  10. Michael Avatar

    I guess I don’t buy the quantity over quality argument.  The blogs I read typically have some new, meaty content once a week or so.  I would rather someone distill their thoughts into something cohesive and thought provoking than throw out a lot of raw snippets.  I wish I was able to blog more frequently, but I would rather it was something that would interest my tens of readers 😉 .

    Thanks for the link to Gary Vaynerchuk.  He is an…intense…guy.  When he talked about having to dedicate nights, weekends, spare time to develop what he loved into something, how did that compare to your experiences when you had your epiphany.

    I couldn’t agree more with the get out there and listen.  Jumping into the conversation is important too, but the art of listening is something we need to cultivate as much as what the latest tools and technologies are.

    P.S.  Please don’t start blogging 3-4 times a day, things are working great right now.

  11. Abby Fichtner Avatar
    Abby Fichtner

    Well, thank you for the validation.  And, I don’t think you have to worry – I can’t imagine being able to blog that frequently!  Especially since I’ve also got a new blog with my new team but I would like to step it up a bit…

    And isn’t that video from Gary wild?  It’s funny, I’d bought his book before seeing it & I couldn’t bare to read it (his style works WAY better in person/video then in a book!) but the video really resonated. I was spending most of my nights and weekends – not to mention all my vacation at software conferences – getting involved in the community – not just through my blog, but learning the new technologies for NUIs and next generation software that I’m so interested in, contributing to local groups and dev sites, yadda yadda.  Spending my own time & money on hardware/software/conferences.  So, yeah, I’d say it was pretty much as he said.

    Well, maybe I will see you around in the boston startup community – I just signed up for the Lean Startup meetups so am going to try to make one of those and just… listen 🙂

  12. Michael Avatar

    The Vaynerchuk video is a trip.  20 seconds in I am thinking “this guy is a jerk (I may have said something else)”, but I keep watching.  Then a few things start hitting home and I’m thinking “OK, maybe he’s not that much of a jerk”, and I keep watching.  Then he starts begging people to stop doing what they hate and by now I am in a full blown frenzy, yelling “Power to the people”.  It all gets a little hazy after that. ..

    Seriously, as someone who is trying to figure out what is next, his message is still rattling around in my brain.  I am sure I will come back to that video again.

    Good luck with the new gig.

  13. Abby Fichtner Avatar
    Abby Fichtner

    hah, “jerk” is much nicer than the words I used in reading the 1st few pages of his book before giving up. 

    Good luck to you with figuring out your next thing! You’ll have to let me know what you decide on.

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