The Secret to Success in Social Media

I know! I know! After months of searching, finally you’ve discovered someone has the secret, and you’re here to get it! Well, okay, maybe I’m being a bit facetious. But rule #1 of writing a good blog post is having a catchy title. And hey, it got you here, didn’t it? 

Seriously though, lately I’ve been putting a lot of thought into what makes someone successful in social media. I, like most others, don’t make a penny off of writing this blog. The other day I wrote a post about Why I Blog. The points I make there are valid and true, but what it doesn’t explain is why I travel around in these circles.

Since I was introduced to social media back in 2006 at Podcamp Toronto, I’ve been a pretty active player. I’ve got accounts on all the major sites (well, oddly, MySpace has never really appealed to me, but that’s neither here nor there), I regularly read and comment on lots and lots of blogs, and I’ve even been fortunate to be a guest blogger here, here and here. I have quite a few followers on Twitter, and somewhat sizeable networks on LinkedIN and Facebook. 

But does that make me successful? Just having lots of links and friends and blog posts? Maybe that stuff is kind of important, because it helps me to get my ideas out there, and in particular it helps me to connect and learn from what others have to offer. But I really think that the SIZE of your network is not important. 

Defining success is a very personal thing. Success is based on the goals you set for yourself. My goals for social media are as follows (in no particular order) –

– Have fun meeting, talking and collaborating with people from around the world
– Have an outlet for all this crazy stuff that whirls around in my head all the time
– Make some connections that may be of value in my career/job/business 

So if that’s how I personally define my success, what’s my secret for achieving it? It’s pretty simple, actually…two steps. 

Who Are You Linked To?
Operating successfully in social media is not about being Facebook friends with A-list bloggers and Twitter friends with SnoopDog. Whether you are an individual or a business, it’s about finding people who share common interests to you. It’s like going down to the local pub, bellying up to the bar, and striking up a conversation with whoever is sitting next to you. One of two things will happen: either you will make some kind of connection on either a personal or business level (or both), or you will have a pleasant chat for a few minutes and then slide down to the other end of the bar. You either make a connection or you don’t. It can’t be forced. You just have to let it happen. 

You Make Your Own Opportunities
The wisest woman in the world, my Mom, said this to me when I was just a kid. “You can’t sit around and wait for stuff to fall in your lap, because it will never happen.” You have to find out what you want, then do what it takes to get it. I listened to my Mom, and to this day, I’m not one to sit around passively waiting for everyone and everything to come to me. I decided to participate in social media. I introduce myself to people online, go to meetups and Podcamps and seminars by myself when I don’t know anyone. I get in touch with people if I feel I have something of value to contribute to what they are doing. As a result, I get opportunities to collaborate with amazing, brilliant people. I also sometimes get opportunities for my business. And best of all, I get to create, and share, and learn. 

This is MY secret, to MY success in social media. Your secrets and how you gauge your success may be very different. I feel good about the contribution I make, and most importantly, I have fun doing it. If it wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t still be here, that’s for sure. 

What’s your secret?


8 Responses

  1. Amen – and I really believe this line of thinking applies to all walks of life, jobs, careers, friendships – everything we do.

    There is a real need to re-define success, and many people are starting to do it.

    Find what makes you happy and healthy in yourself, and get on with it !

  2. Damn it SuzeMuse! I’ve been thinking of writing a very similar post (though with more snark, I gotta be me) and you beat me to it.

    I’ll save some of my thoughts for my own blog but your point about size not mattering (pause for juvenile jokes) is spot on. I’m always amazed by the number of social media consultants I see on twitter complaining about losing followers or problems with adequately tracking the number of RSS subscribers they have.

    These are the same people who preach to their clients saying it’s not about quantitative measurement, it’s a qualitative thing. Yet they seem to be more concerned about numbers than quality of comments, link love etc.

  3. I’m not saying that I don’t peek at my blog stats to see how many people have read a post. Actually, that helps me to figure out what works and what doesn’t, and what my readers are interested in.

    However, Joe, you are spot on in saying that qualitative measurements outweigh the quantitative ones. I’d rather have 3 people saying something good about me than 500 people complaining about me.

    As for tracking subscribers – just because someone is subscribed to your blog doesn’t mean they are hanging on your every word.

  4. Make that 4 people who leave appreciative comments. Oh, hang on – you replied to one… so it IS 3! 😉

    Great post Susan, and one that anybody with even the merest of passing interest in social media should read and take on board. Although, as Halyma rightly said, it can also be put to any walk of life you care to mention.

    No wonder you’re climbing the social media tree so well, Susan – cheers! 🙂

  5. I think your mom’s advice hits it right on. To achieve your version of success, you need to go out and work for it. I touched upon this subject yesterday (must be something in the air!):

  6. Nice post. Here are my 2 cents -success in social media is company/product/service/industry dependent. There is no standard approach here.

    Let’s take the case of (see Flash animations of casestudies)

    1) Commoncraft

    2) Starbucks

    Both where successful in connecting and collaborating with people – however -platforms where different – and result was different.


  7. Suz, I have been watching and reading your blog for months, and seem to come back to it a lot. I like how you think, how you write. I don’t always agree, but I always enjoy.

    What gets you where you want to go? One thing that seems to work for me is being constant in your direction. Always keep your goal in mind. Every choice you make, make a baby step forward if that’s all you can do. If you can make a leap, do so. Try not to go backwards at all costs. Even a lateral move is better than going backwards.

    Has this gotten me to where I want to go? I can’t tell you where I want to be, since I don’t really know what or where that is. What has happened is that I am really enjoying my life, my family, my friends, my work, on a day by day basis, and that may be my best serendipitous discovery to date, if I ever had one.


  8. Suze,

    I’m so glad to read this post. Online and offline, if we treat everyone with respect and an openness to who they are, we’ll find points of connection.

    Or, as you say, we’ll smile and slide on down to the other end of the bar, no harm done–preferably without flipping somebody off as we go.

    I recently had the experience of having a comment (on another blog) criticized in part because I didn’t have nearly as many Twitter followers as the blog author, as if that somehow reflected my worth as a human being.

    I don’t mind being disagreed with–I like an energetic exchange when everyone engages and really cares, regardless of whether we’re all on the same page. But disagreement can be accomplished in a way that keeps the door open for later connection on something else, or it can slam the door.

    That qualitative tone is bound to affect the quantitative measures down the road. Personally, I prefer to contribute to the positive side of the karmic balance sheet–makes the universe a little nicer for all of us. Your sense of openness to the possibilities of connection does that for me, so thanks.


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