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February 24, 2010

Social Media Misconceptions 5: The ME in Social Me-dia doesn’t stand for “me” ….

In this, the fifth blog in my series on Social Media Misconceptions, I deal with the misconception that social media is all about you.

I would like to dedicate this blog to Thomas and Penny Power. Last night, several hundred of us celebrated ecademy's 12th birthday in London. Thomas and Penny would have been well within their rights to talk about all their achievements. However, they chose to celebrate *us*, the ecademy community. They played a wonderful slide show of pictures of all the people who make this such a great place to be part of. Thomas and Penny lead by example. Congratulations to the whole ecademy team for 12 fantastic years!

On with the blog:

It seems that many people struggle to understand the difference between self-promotion and self-publication. To my mind, the former is Web 1.0 mentality, while the latter is Web 2.0 mentality.

In a recent ecademy blog, Steve Holmes wrote: "I think we all appreciate that the explosion of what used to be called "vanity publishing" that has been unleashed by the internet has now reached the proportions of a flood with some people relentlessly releasing essentially meaningless and unnecessary Google fodder at their cute little "blog" sites day in day out like clockwork."

I think Steve is referring to those people who self-promote, and he has a valid point.

However, self-publication is a different beast and it is important to understand the distinction.

Self-publication shouldn't always be "me, me, me"!

In a recent article, "There's no "you" in Twitter", in the Times On-line, reporter Murad Ahmed, suggested that to get ahead with social media, you need to stop talking about yourself:

"This logic, to which many already adhere in the real world, is also becoming a rule when it comes to social networking on the web. Twitter seems like a medium dominated by narcissists and self-promoters, informing the public about their every waking thought. But research shows that the most popular "tweeters" are those who rarely speak about themselves.

A study undertaken by Dan Zarrella, a social media analyst and consultant based in Boston in the US, examined the language used by more than 60,000 Twitter users. He has developed a computer system called Tweetpsych, which can analyse the types of words used by people on social networking sites.

In his most recent study, Mr Zarrella looked at all the instances that Twitter users wrote self-referential words, such as "I", as well as more "inclusive" words such as "you" or "we". He found that the most self-referential Twitter users tended to have the fewest followers. Conversely, people who used more inclusive language tended to have more followers.

"No one wants to go to a cocktail party and hang out with the guy who's talking about themselves all night," Mr Zarrella said."

In his recent ecademy blog, "In social media, size matters", Nic Oliver wrote: "I took the blogs of 8 of the top Social Media Bloggers and looked at their percentage use of "I", "We", "You" and "They". In each case, I collected at least 5,000 words, which for most equates to between 6 and 8 articles. I know it's not a very large sample of writers or words, but I wanted to see if any patterns emerged. And they did!".

Nic concluded that that the top bloggers use the word "you" more often than "me" or "We/Our".

In my blog: "Twitter Wars: Katie Price vs. Peter Andre", I had a look at how the battling couple used their twitter accounts and how they were a reflection of their personalities. Ms. Price's account was all "me, me, me", while Mr. Andre's was all about the fans, including him replying to individual questions. I think I know which method will gain the most traction and create more loyalty.

This takes me back to the pub analogy I used in my previous blog. In a social situation, people prefer to interact with the person who is engaged with the group, who listens, and who shows an interest in others. The person who talks about themselves all the time (like Katie Price) is about as popular as a rattlesnake in a lucky dip!

On my training day, "How to implement a social media strategy for your business", I have a whole module devoted to how to listen first on-line, before jumping in. This module explains how to use different tools to monitor on-line conversations and therefore understand what matters to people, the sentiment of the group, and where you can offer support to others.

I explain why big numbers alone will not achieve success, but why having large numbers of people who choose to listen is the way to leverage this new technology.

The key word here is influence.. Become an influencer "through the killer app of friendship" to quote Thomas Power.

My tips for taking your first steps on-line are all geared around supporting others, and not trumpeting about yourself. These include:

- commenting on other people's blogs

- offering to connect people who may be able to help each other

- performing random acts of kindness on-line to help others

- answering people's questions

- being social and supportive and interested in what others are doing/saying.

Thank you for reading this blog. I hope you have got value from it. If so, you may be interested in attending some of my upcoming events:

On Friday 12th March, I'm running another of my ground-breaking "How to implement a social media strategy for your business" training days. This training will help you kick-start your social media engagement in 2010, and save you a huge amount of time from doing non-productive activities. Full details >>> here.

On 20th March, due to the previous event now being fully booked, I am running an additional "How to create great web video content" training day. This does what it says on the tin, but each delegate will walk away with a professionally shot video for their own use. Details >>>> here.

However you decide to leverage the social web, make sure that you follow the three golden rules of leadership, authenticity, and consistency, as advocated by Seth Godin.

If you have any misconceptions about using social media, then please have a look at my series of blogs:

I don't have time

I have profiles on all the main sites/platforms, so I'm using social media

Social media is a fad.

All businesses can benefit from social media marketing.

Regards N



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