Relationships or Rankings? What Does Social Media Mean To You?


I have a confession! As I approach the second anniversary of the start of my social media journey I am no longer enjoying the experience.

There – I feel much better now. They say confession is good for the soul which is a good start but now I want to go further and make changes which will regain my social media soul and transport me back to the early days when it was all just so much fun.

What has led to this sad situation? I have been trying to be all things to all men (and women) spreading my time too thinly in wanting to be involved in every new community in case I miss out on something. As a consequence I am spending all of my time chasing my tail and have lost the wonder and excitement of discovering and connecting with new people.

Friends old and new are ignored as I strive to reach an intangible goal that I don’t even understand. Content remains unwritten and the blog languishes with only the occasional morsel to retain my loyal readers interest.

Let’s be honest – it’s all become a bit of chore and I have just been going through the motions recently.

So on the cusp of this New Year I find myself at a cross roads, I could take the easier and negative route and just give in or I could take a step along the positive path and take some actions to rekindle the joy I used to feel. I have always been a positive type so I choose the latter and have drawn up a list of 10 golden rules to follow to keep me on the straight and narrow in 2012.

We all have different reasons for blogging – my motivation is to have an enjoyable hobby, meeting and engaging with fun and interesting people along the way, enjoying the journey and seeing where the adventure leads. I therefore feel I need need this radical overhaul and while you may not feel the same way I hope you will find something here too keep you on the right track whatever your destination.

Keep a balance

My number 1 rule! By this I mean have some balance in my life and maintain a healthy perspective to all of my social media activities. I am not and never will be a ‘social media professional’ but at times I have been thinking as if I was and taking it all far too seriously.

I don’t use one of those fancy smart mobile devices so tend to pop onto the computer in between doing other stuff to see what’s going on. From now on I will jump in when I have time but if real life is getting in the way I’m not going to worry about it. My online world will be for enjoyment and connecting with good people and not for adding pressure to my life!

Ignore the scores

There are so many ways to measure ‘success’ and ‘influence’ in the social media world and it’s very tempting to pay too much attention to them. I started out measuring my success by the quality of my relationships rather than the number of followers, likes and so on and that’s the way it is going to be again.

So no more Klout score or Empire Avenue share price worries for me – maybe these types of measurements have their place but I do think that too much emphasis can be put on them. To me they have just become a time waster and a distraction so I am going to ignore them and concentrate instead on just enjoying the ride and building relationships again.

Be real

It’s very tempting to automate stuff to find and share content but it’s not something I’ve ever been comfortable with.  I could see some value in Triberr for a while and have connected with some good people there but I did find that having a stream of content presented to me, sometimes from people I didn’t really know, with a pressure to share meant that the spontaneity and random nature of Twitter was missing. I’m sure it works well for some but it’s not for me.

The same goes for scheduling. I can see the benefits and I am happy to have a Buffer button on the blog for you to use but I would like to send my Tweets and shares out into the ether myself, it just seems more fun that way. I like people to know that when I’m active online that I am actually there.

So it’s back to popping into lists, subscribing to great blogs and just seeing what’s going on to find content to share. If I miss something so be it, that’s the nature of life and it’s trying to be in too many places which has taken the fun out of it.

Tweet with integrity

I am going to get back to sharing a Tweet for the best reason of all – because I like what it says or has a link to great content. Too often in the past I have shared something to try to impress or because I felt that I might upset someone if I didn’t.

I am all for Retweeting something as a way of thanking someone for their friendship or support but I must to admit to putting Tweets into my stream which I knew in my heart were rubbish to try to impress someone who is ‘influential’.

I have some wonderful online friends who would be perceived as such but it’s not their influence that I admire – it’s their personalities, friendship and support that mean a lot to me so in future ‘influence’ is bottom of the list.

Read – don’t skim

I have realised that I have got into the habit of not reading posts properly, I tend to skim them to see if they are the type of thing I would like to share but haven’t felt that I had the time to actually read them in detail.

So a little more time spent taking in the content I am reading will allow me to better understand it and as a consequence to be able to ;

Share with enthusiasm

Don’t just Tweet – if content is good then I am going to take a little more time to share it around in other places too. Not indiscriminately though, a little thought needs to go into choosing which community will appreciate it.

Interact and engage

So many ways to do this but so little time!! Thank someone for sharing, ask a question, send a compliment, add a comment or just say Hi. These are all fantastic things to do to get more out of the social media experience and to connect to and build relationships with some wonderful people.

Stop checking those stats

Is it just me? Do you feel the need to check stats repeatedly? Maybe it’s just the OCD side of my nature coming out but I find myself wanting to look at Adsense, Analytics, subscribers and all those other ways to measure far too often. It’s not as if they have changed very much since I last looked!

It’s such a waste of time and can be demotivating if too much emphasis is put on the results. It’s become part of the social media disease that’s been afflicting me so it must go. Once a week will do just to keep an eye on things and to identify any trends I need to know about.

Hit that ‘Publish’ button again

I used to add 2 to 3 posts to the blog each week with new ideas springing up all the time. More recently, while I have been chasing other things it has been more like 2 to 3 monthly. Not good enough I say, what’s the point in having a blog if it’s withering on the vine?

Time will be set aside to write more again (Oh dear – I’ll have to think of something witty to say!!) and I will start building those relationships again so that I can invite some more wonderful guests to appear on the blog.

Be bold!

It’s so boring producing the same old type of content or even worse, no content on the blog or Tweeting out the same old stuff all the time. I need to be more adventurous again coming up with new ideas even if that risks falling flat on my face or making a fool of myself. Where’s the fun in playing safe all the time!

I need to have a more proactive approach to relationship building too reaching out to new people to connect with without fear of rejection.

If it’s not adding to the enjoyment then don’t do it!

The more observant of may have noticed that this makes 11 (I told you I was going to be bold!!) but I think this one needs to be set alongside all of the first 10 as my overriding social media rule.

So there you have my new social media philosophy. Having written it all down now I am sure it’s the right way to go for me. Two years ago I hadn’t heard of this amazing social media community and have had a wonderful time immersing myself in it. The direction of the journey had however veered on to the wrong road for me and I feel it’s important to recognise that and do something about it.

Now over to you! What do you think? Do you feel that you are on the right road or do you think that, like me, you have been sucked into a world that you no longer enjoy?

Do you think I am misguided and missing out on some wonderful opportunities by taking a more simple uncomplicated approach? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Many thanks for visiting The Top 10 Blog today, if you have enjoyed this post I hope you will share it with the world.

Wishing you all the best for 2012

*Image credits

Statistics – graur codrin /

ClockSalvatore Vuono /

Opportunity Road Sign – scottchan /

  • Ah Tony, you have hit the proverbial social media wall. It wasn’t too long ago I did the same and like you I was searching for the fun and wonderment I experienced in the early days.

    I was able to find what I consider my ‘sustainability’ level now. I no longer am trying to keep up with the ‘Jones” because all that was doing was making me chase my tail.

    The one thing I can do and control is being ‘me’. It’s good enough for me and for now, it will have to be.

    It sounds like you have your arms wrapped around what is going to work for you; I hope you find it, because I like having you around.

    Trust me, you are not the Lone Ranger; there are many feeling the same way you do and quite a few have decided to quit. Hang in there buddy, it will be worth it. 

    • Thanks Bill, I like your ‘marathon’ analogy.

      If we are going to last the course we need to realise that we are in it for the long run and not try to treat it like a sprint to avoid burning out too soon. I feel that I just doing a gentle jog again which will be much more sustainable.

      So glad to have connected with you this year Bill and wishing you all the best for 2012 :-)

  • The people that last in social media are those who love it. If it becomes a chore it dies. We all have to find the balance that works best for us. It sounds to me like you have or are on the verge of it. That is a good thing. Happy New Year Tony. Be safe and enjoy it.

    • Thanks Jack, so kind of you to leave your comment. I do feel much more comfortable now that I’m taking a relaxed attitude to it all again and don’t intend to lose that balance again.

      Wishing you and yours all the best for the New Year :-)

  • Tony, bravo to you!  It feels like you took a page right out of my diary.  Social media should be fun and interactive and engaging and positive and uplifting and informative and interesting and… well, I could go on and on!  When it stops being those things, then it’s time to make a change.  I know I did and I’m much happier for it.  :)  Kudos to you for being so public about your feelings.  Just know that you’re not alone!  Happy new year, my friend! 

    • Thanks ever so much for your comment Stacy, I was just glad that I recognised that I needed to do something or I think I may have quit altogether. Looking forward to the Social Media New Year much more now.

      Wishing you and yours all the best for 2012 – please let me know if you would like to make another guest appearance :-)

  • ghostleegirl

    Hey! Love this! I’m glad that you’ve found your balance. For myself twitter and FaceBook are methods of sharing things I enjoy and have an interest in. I don’t care about rankings, because truth be told, I find that people who worry about that don’t really care what they are saying, they just seem to feel an overwhelming need to be heard. At the end of the day, they really haven’t said anything, nor have they contributed in any way.

    I think that you may have inspired me to start my own blog!

    Good luck in your journey, my friend. Remain true to yourself, and leave the pressure behind, in 2011.

    Happy new year!

    • Hi and thanks so much for your comment. The post was definitely worthwhile doing if only for the inspiration it may have given you to start a blog! Be sure to keep in touch and let me know if you do.

      Wishing you all the best for the New Year :-)

  • Eleanor Jodway

    This is My All time Fav Blog Post of Yours Tony!  We All arrive at this place!  I Have been so much more happy and so less stressed, since I stopped using KLOUT.  I was falling into these very traps!  BRAVO, for pulling back!  I for one, will adore You even if Your KLOUT Score is 2!!!

    • Thanks ever so much for your kind words Ellie and for sharing the post around, it’s very much appreciated.

      It’s connecting with good people like you Ellie that make the social media world so enjoyable rather than any scores, ratings or rankings. I am certainly finding the whole thing a lot more relaxing now just popping in when I have time and not worrying that I might be missing something all the time :-)

  • This post really blew me away, so I’m sharing it on Twitter and Reddit. Very down to earth and practical perspective on social media. I’ve been getting into a bit of a Klout-craze, I think there is some value to it, but I find it not to be the best way to measure relationships (or “influence”). As someone with a psychology background, I’m pretty familiar with the limitations of trying to describe human behavior with just numbers and statistics. One thing I really need to work on is checking stats less and focusing on engagement more. Thanks again for these really sound tips!

    • Many thanks for your comment and for sharing my post Steven. I think it’s sometimes hard to get the right balance but personally I’m finding that I am enjoying my social media engagement much more now that I am taking a less analytical attitude.

  • YSMMogul

    Hey Tony!  Way to be bold and daring!  Congratulations on taking a stand!  I too have found myself spreading myself thin, skimming over the dozens of blogs I find myself reading, trying to comment, retweet, etc… perhaps I will take a page out of your playbook this year! :)  Your friend, Knikkolette a/k/a Your Social Media Mogul. :)

    • Hi Knikkolette, how lovely to see you here and thanks for the comment. It doesn’t really feel like taking a stand although I suppose I am swimming against the tide. I just felt that I needed to change as the alternative was to close all my accounts and quietly disappear which would have been a real shame.

      The downside is that I sometimes miss good content that I might have picked up before but to me that’s a price worth paying. I’ve subscribed to your fine blog now so that you won’t come into that category :-)

      Wishing you all the best for 2012!

  • I know exactly what you are saying here, Tony. My epiphany in the last year has been, “Go with your heart.” Pretty simple thing that I missed. On this list, “be real” is the one that jumps out at me. I think in blogging, it is so tempting (at least, it was for me) to ride the wave of what’s trending, what everyone’s talking about, etc. But when I started writing about the things I care about, the things that are important to me, the passion just comes through. I started as a marketing blog! It was because we had our marketing firm for 20 years and I was most knowledgeable in that area. But it wasn’t my “heartsong,” as they so eloquently call it in the movie Happy Feet. I am a writer with stories that are itching to get out. I accept and embrace my inner self! And, yes on #11, if you are not enjoying it, don’t do it. Really, really good post, my friend. 

    • Thanks Judy, lovely to see you over here and thanks for taking the time to leave your comment. It is tempting to follow the crowd but much more satisfying I think, as you say to follow your heart, a quality that shines through in your own blog.

      Wishing you and Bob all the best for the coming year.

  • Anntran_

    Hi Tony,

    I felt the same thing sporadically this past year . I took off three weeks from blogging and tweet when I felt like it and recharged.  Excellent post.

    • Thanks Ann, I t think that’s a good idea just to overcome that fear that we might miss something and take a break sometimes. It’s amazing how you find the world has still been turning while you’ve been away and certainly can keep things fresh.

      Wishing you and yours all the best for 2012 :-)

  • Meredith Allison @RockTique

    Hi Tony :) Great post! I think you have said what many of us have been feeling lately. I appreciate that you took the time to put this into words. I too have become so overwhelmed with trying to always,’do the right thing’, whether it’s saying Thank You to people or returning a retweet ‘favor’…it’s all suddenly becoming so very clear. I started out with great intentions & have lost myself on the way…to the point it’s all become a chore. Not much fun! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and letting us know we are not alone, I almost feel as if this post gives me permission to be ME again and well…that is just awesome!

    • Hi Meredith, it’s so kind of you to leave a comment, I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      It seems there are quite a few people like us out there who feel they have been sucked into doing more than they intended by the social media monster. I know getting more involved works well for many people but I think it’s important that those who want to to their own thing feel comfortable doing so. I am so pleased to hear that the post has helped to get you moving in the right direction for YOU again :-)

  • How many of these posts have I read lately?! Just wrote my own, have more coming soon. It’s not that all the ‘fun’ has lost its magic for me, quite the opposite. I’ve gotten happy and comfortable in some places, could spend all day doing this… if only someone else would pay my bills. ;-) 

    So, so many of these are on my DO and DON’T lists, trying to not worry so much about the numbers that don’t matter (Klout) while putting in more time on the numbers that do (connections, referrals that drive business). Only point I’m not sure of the ‘share with enthusiasm’ – I do it when something is REALLY awesome AND appropriate for all audiences. I don’t want to blur the personal/professional line too much, nor annoy people repeating myself. Like you said, put some thought into what we share. I literally was just thinking about Balance and Real, had a revelation: both are overrated and/or mythical. I’ve never subscribed to the full-disclosure, transparency b.s. as ‘real’ nor the ‘happy, happy’ for appearances sake. Balance is another one and you know what? If I LIKE being online in the middle of the night, if my hobbies and ‘fun’ do come from electronic endeavors, so what? It does not mean I don’t have ‘balance’ or that b/c it’s online it’s not ‘real.’

    Here’s hoping we figure this out in 2012. FWIW.

    • Hi Davina and many thanks for your thoughtful comment. I suppose what I am trying to say is that whatever our motivation we should do what we are comfortable with, as much as we want and at whatever time suits us. What we should resist though is the pressure to do things differently by being sucked too far into the social media whirl.

      Wishing you all the best for 2012.

  • February Grace

    Bravo! Great post.

  • Bravo! Great post.