Winning at AntiSocial Media the Steff Way

There’s a social media camp happening over on Vancouver Island, and someone’s first quote was, “Social media isn’t about you.”
Really? Ahem.
Every person I follow or engage with is because they’re offering something unique to them. If it wasn’t about them, I wouldn’t give a shit. If they’re just spouting links with no personal interjection, I don’t care.

T-Shirt design from

If social media isn’t about YOU, then don’t bother.
I could pretend to care more about the people who followed me. I could engage more without provocation. I could follow more people. I could do the “shout-out-by-name” bullshit I so loathe.
And yet… I don’t.
And YET… I’m followed by people in every sector of the industries I’m interested in — and from lofty, lofty places. Editors, publishers, and media magnates follow me.
Largely, I guess, because I’m just “myself” online.
I don’t kiss ass, engage my powerful followers directly, “use” them as contacts, ask anything of them. I don’t do shout-outs or any of the things people will tell you are “good” Twitter.
And it works for me.
Because it’s all me, all day, all the time. I’m consistent, I’m constant, I’m myself, and I’m interesting. I diversify my stuff, I don’t apologize, and I am what I am. Loudly.
Maybe I could have even MORE followers than I do. But if I have to dumb myself down and be “nice” more, then I don’t wanna!
That’s what social media SHOULD be. It should be people being themselves — for better or worse — and putting it out there without apologies, as long as they’re respecting others and not being dicks.
I disagree with people, often, and disagree loudly. Every now and then my passion gets the better of me and I disagree a bit disrespectfully — and that’s not cool. Generally, though, I manage to toe the line pretty well. I still isolate people, but that’s life when you’re bold.
Anyone who follows me because they like my piss-and-vinegar style of sardonic tweeting, but then unfollows me because we one day disagree on a topic, is clearly the sort of person who probably needs more hand-holding in friendship or debates than I’m given to provide. Or, they just plain don’t like diversity in people.
So, y’know, buh-bye.
Do you seriously WANT everyone to like you?
Have you SEEN what “everyone” entails?
These are the people who keep Jersey Shore on the air, who wear Ed Hardy, who slam Brittney Spears in one breath then buy her music in another… People who don’t know what they like, but change their tune once YOU do. People who kept King of Queens on TV for years, who think Tracey Morgan actually IS funny… People who celebrate mediocrity.
You want THEM to like you? What the fuck FOR?
“Hi! I’m mediocre! I’m not really different. But lotsa people follow me!”
Seriously. Maybe this makes me a bitch. Maybe I’m “classist” for thinking there could be better cultural diversity out there.
Shit, I’ll buy that for a dollar, Pat.
Yes, I think my tastes put me in a select group as far as appeal goes, but that’s what branding of any kind should do. I’ll admit, my online presence is a sort of “branding.”
Isn’t yours? It should be. It ain’t selling out — it’s smarting-up, man.
There are those who suggest every person who follows you rates a follow-back. Why? WHY?
In life, does every person who wants to be your friend get to be your friend? NO.
Why? Because not everyone has something to offer you. Often, what they seek from you is what they can’t provide you.
Just because a guy’s interested in me in the Real World doesn’t mean I return that interest — usually because they don’t have anything to teach me, or don’t inspire me in any way, or just don’t make me think I’ll grow from our relationship.
Why should Twitter or Facebook be any different? Because you fuckin’ smell a dollar at the other end? Get real, you likely won’t make a penny off that extra follower, you’ll spread your focus thin, know less about everyone in general, and that’s that. Way to be “social”.
When we stop worrying about winning EVERYONE over to our side, we’ll start having more honest interactions.
And that brings us to the other topic I disagree with from Victoria’s Social Media Camp. “Social media means being social in real life too.”
Yes, to an extent, sure. But you have much to lose from being too visible. One can greatly control their image online. The more you’re social, the less intrigue you create. The more you’re social, the more you have to try to live up to that highly edited, highly opportunistic way of communicating online — and the more you can put your foot in it, so to speak.
Online, I’m funny and edgy and brash. It plays all right in person, too. But there’s some kind of intrigue I’ve created, accidentally, from not attending events often. As a result, I’m now less likely to attend events because I know there’s more buzz from going to them rarely than there is from being omnipresent, and, also, I know the people I do conspire to meet with feel more “special” because I don’t make myself available to everyone all the time.
Seriously, it’s working for me.
A few of my thoughts?

  • Pick your events wisely.
  • Ensure you have people on your side that’ll be there when you do attend.
  • Always know your “safe port in a storm” — a person you sidle up to when things feel they’re slipping away.
  • Make sure you have connections worth making by attending those events, that it’s not just the usual suspects you’ve befriended time and again — that’s not networking, that’s “hanging out”.
  • Shut your mouth until you’re confident your thoughts are relevant and you know what’s honestly being spoken about and even what the going opinions in the discussion are.
  • Don’t steal thunder from presenters at events by hogging questions or diva-ing it up with your resume before you ask a question, because other attendees will resent you. Resentment breeds distrust; way to shoot yourself in the foot. If your question is awesome, that’s ALL the introduction you need.
  • Know the limits of your appeal. Don’t oversell yourself.
  • Less is more.
  • Be interested in others — you’re not as important as you think you are, and showing that interest can be compelling to them.

You can’t undo bad appearances. You can’t take back a first impression. If you’re not feeling like you’re “on”, then don’t risk the damage that can come from appearing at a non-essential event when you’re not on your game.
Networking takes mojo. Being different takes actually operating differently and even taking risks.
And when you play the game, think about the long-term, not just the one event. Will it really help you obtain new ground? Or is it just another networking event where everyone who’s hungry for clients are all out competing for the same piece of meat — like a pack of hyenas on a single little fox’s corpse?
Because that’s most likely the case.
Networking with other entrepreneurs is useful occasionally, but don’t kid yourself that it’s a surefire way to pay the rent. Pick your battles and pick them strategically. In so doing, be yourself, ‘cos no one else has what makes you “you”.
Question is: Do you know what that “uniquely you” thing is? Time to find out, if you don’t.
You should follow me on Twitter, you know. Click Here.

7 thoughts on “Winning at AntiSocial Media the Steff Way

  1. steven schwartz

    great post Steff, the social glad handing and reciprocal self masturbation at these events can be nauseating. I am aware that for some “Social Media” is their life, hobby, career and self esteem all wrapped up into one. The epidemic “Look Who I know” crap, when the “who” is a blogger and not someone who changed the world or stopped kitties from being drowned in a hurricane difficult for me to handle without loosing it.
    It is usually the same circle of folks telling the same circle of folks how to use the same things to do what they already do anyway. The events I will be going to from now on will have to have a close friend to support or some topic diversity to attract me.
    In closing it is not a fucking “Un-Conference” or a “Camp” if there is a person on a dais and a audience and a schedule of events it is a fucking conference. And a Camp is a place in the woods that you enjoy the outdoors maybe go for a swim.

  2. Lynne

    @Steven Marry me? ๐Ÿ˜› You hit many nails on many heads with that comment. I purposefully avoid a lot of the local ‘social media’ events for these very reasons–and yes, they are fully getting the ‘unconference’ concept way wrong.

  3. Susan

    I enjoy your genuine nature Steff and I like the way I met you in real life after reading your tweets and blogs. I drove you to a maze in a cornfield, like people do so often in our culture! Random moments and interesting conversations are what I hope for most when I meet people from online IRL. I like your “less is more” re: in person events vs. your frequent tweeting sessions (which entertain me highly). Anyways I’m not trying to kiss your butt or anything. Just sayin. Commenting. Because bloggers love comments right? xo

  4. harriet

    I totally agree. I think twitter and social media belong to the user. You make it what you want by being who you are. Period. I’m tired of marketing people telling others how to do things. I think FINALLY, we’re in an era where people can actually be their unique selves and that is their strength!
    Keep on keepin on!

  5. Leslie

    Steven: “It is usually the same circle of folks telling the same circle of folks how to use the same things to do what they already do anyway.” — Precisely.
    Steff: I’m not interested in attaining as many followers as I can get, or in following everyone out there, or in (necessarily) socializing with online acquaintances in real life (although a few folks have made the transition from online to real life friends, and that’s nice). Nor am I interested in attending most social media events. I use Twitter and other social media to have interesting exchanges, and to read interesting stuff (like your blog). Thanks for this post, I entirely agree with it!

  6. Darren

    I’d argue that you’re willingly participating in the much (and rightfully) despised inside baseball by writing about how you’re not participating in it.
    Like Hummers and sequined t-shirts on men, the best response to this behaviour is simply to ignore it.

  7. A Scribe Called Steff Post author

    Darren — Heh. Yes, sequins, hummers, etc. I don’t usually comment on the soc-med punditry matters, but there it was, filling my tweetstream, and I figured I wanted to do the old more-ways-than-one-to-skin-a-cat kind of posting. I despise the whole “it’s about everyone!” must-do mentality about social media.
    Writing a blog post really doesn’t take a lot of effort. It’s good to keep the pot stirred a little.
    LESLIE: Thanks. Goes to show you social media is so much more than what it’s pigeonholed as.
    HARRIET & SUSAN: Thanks, ladies. ๐Ÿ™‚
    STEVEN: I thought I’d replied… weird. But YES. I agree with much of that little rant. Maybe not as strongly, but I agree.
    But if I went to event to argue about not going to the event? I’d be Wanker Exhibit #1. Totally.

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