Never in the “IN” Crowd
If you’ll indulge me, I’m going to share a bit of back story. Growing up I was NOT the popular kid in school. I was the straight A student with the only B being in PE, the non-social, non-party, super square. I sat in the front of the class because I wanted to learn and got nicknamed the “teacher’s pet.” I actually did my homework every night and never turned in anything late. I also did all extra credit, needed or not. I was incredibly UNcool, UNhip, UNeverything.
Nomadic Made It Easy
I wasn’t a Geek that would have meant I had a crowd to hang in, I just sort of endured school. We moved a lot (no, not military, mom’s whim) and so I never stayed more than three years and often just one, (it meant seven schools before high school graduation.) Nomadic made me adaptable and also not one to make many friends. Moving was a great excuse for dodging social opportunities. I was a sitting duck for the social media revolution! Here was an arena I could shine in, I could finally discover “popularity.”
A Sucker for Recognition
I’ve always been a total sucker for recognition. It is why I love to speak publicly and teach as well. Nary a jitter or a nervous stomach, instead I am energized by the attention. Well there was a hitch, as my Twitter following grew and grew, I was feeling responsible for my followers. How crazy was that? I felt obligated to climb on and indulge in the care and feeding of my followers whether I had much to share or not.
The Hug Rut
I fell into a rut so to speak and while it was my content, I indulged in less and less real time interaction, and more and more automated scheduled tweets. It didn’t feel real and still took valuable time. The tricky part was that many loved my tweets and my interaction consisted of going in 4-5x a day and sending out hugs. I had a bit of fun with it, creating HUG-A-THONS, HUG HERDS, HUG-A-LONGS, HUGFESTS, HUGMANIAS, and all other manner of HUGDOMS, but at the end of the day, I didn’t feel huggable about it all.
Where I Learned to Tweet
Oh and did I mention that I learned to Tweet from the “big boys.” That meant I was told to accept every request, auto-follow back everyone, and follow those similar to me, colleagues always, and thousands more. I was also schooled in the “tools” to grow like Tweetadder. Yes, you can gain an amazing number of totally irrelevant, uninterested followers in a very short time. WOOHOO! Oh and ironically many of those same “big boys” have left Twitter, not as dramatically as I may have with the Big Dump, but they stepped away and left it all there.
Twitter is a Business Tool
In reality, it made no sense at all. If Twitter is a business tool at all (and it can be a valuable one), why on earth would you follow all of your colleagues except those you genuinely enjoy and interact with? They aren’t going to give you business. (I see this a lot with creative Tweeps especially, social networks are the water cooler, not the prospect connection place.) This is totally okay if that is how you want to invest your time. For me, I prefer my personal relationships to be personal and that means moving them offline to voice to voice and face to face whenever possible (it isn’t always, of course, but that is my goal.)
Ditching the “Dead Weight”
So despite the fact that I had a few hundred out of the massive 50K (and it got as high as 55K) that I really enjoyed, looked forward to and engaged with, I realized the rest was nothing more than “dead” weight. I know it sounds harsh, but it’s true. I couldn’t figure out how to dump them. I know the tools and a following that large is just kind of unwieldy, no matter how “popular” (remember the childhood story?) I felt. I suddenly had an epiphany that being “online popular” wasn’t all I thought it was and began toying with the idea of dumping it all.
But What About Fame?
Yes, I did have the Forbes Top 20 Women of Influence accolade and that was nice, but didn’t lead to what you might think. Maybe because I didn’t chase it there? Or maybe because like so much in life and business today, there is a new list out almost weekly trumping any old list. Today it is .00005 seconds of fame, not the 15 minutes of yesteryear. (Besides I grew up with a famous mother, there is a high price to pay.)
Timing is Everything
The holidays were my catalyst, I struggle through them every year. Putting on a brave face for friends who invite me and I turn them down, preferring the solitude of my own company and my feline family (Yin and Yang.) It is my time to reflect on the year passed and decide how I want to live the year ahead of me. I say struggle because it is the one time of year I can slip easily into melancholy missing family that long ago lost the glue to hold it together (aka my mom who passed 25 years ago.) I decided it was time to unburden myself and having mulled the decision for 90 days, I tripped the switch on New Year’s eve.
I had a few folks tell me to just change the name of my profile to my own and leave it up and invite everyone over. I didn’t want everyone, just a handful of those who matter most and I’m finding them again and they are finding me. It is a very new experience but a lot more rewarding and fulfilling. I don’t blame social media at all. It has always only been a set of tools, never a solution to what ails anyone personally or professionally. I simply offer this challenge, do you know why you are on Twitter? Do you know if the time you are investing has an ROI or is a black hole of expense whether personally or professionally. Think before you reply.
Numbers Don’t Mean Anything
Oh and know that I still like Twitter, this isn’t a slam at all. It is a plea to those who are clamoring for more followers. WHY? WHY? WHY? I’ve had the great good fortune to meet some very cool Tweeps, to enjoy many coming to my programs and I am honored by that, truly. And the awesome part is, that they are on my private list. I didn’t leave those wonderful folks hanging out there. I invited them to join me and those that wanted to did and still do.
The Light of a New Day
I now tweet under @melissagalt. I don’t climb on every day. I don’t feel obligated. I totally enjoy looking at my followers feeds and retweeting, commenting, and engaging. Sometimes it’s just for fun, other times it is with an agenda, I might be looking for a resource, or announcing a program. (I am A-okay with promoting on Twitter when you provide value content and you are real and not hype.)
Follow Your Heart
I will gladly teach the ins and outs of social marketing and the media tools that make your engine run, simply rest assured that nothing beats the personal touch. And you will go farther faster when you bring your heart to the table, your passion to your purpose, and are selective in who you follow and who you allow to follow you (did you know you had a choice? The block key became a favorite to keep bots out, lol.) Don’t fall into that trap of perceived “popularity.” It’s a time robber for sure and I plan to keep my Twitter following closely in check going forward. Life is much better when the noise is turned down, the clutter abandoned, and the chaos quelled.
I’d love your comments here, this has been awhile in the writing and definitely a little scary to release.