12 Most Epiphanic Moments of a Decade on Social Media

12 Most Epiphanic Moments of a Decade on Social Media

Like the curious, geeky gal I am, when wading into social media, I caught some of the early waves. I joined LinkedIn in 2003, for instance. Started on Facebook three years later, but didn’t get to Twitter until 2009. (I’ll blame having two kids for slowing me down, at least a little…)

Along the way, I stumbled and fumbled on social media. But eventually, I kinda got the hang of it. Still, I learn something new on the social web just about every day.

Here are 12 moments of sudden insights on social media that I wished I would’ve learned earlier. So I’m sharing them in case they can help any one else.

1. Watching a count of followers or friends is basically useless

The number of folks who are following you will rise when and because you are engaging with them. Unless you’ve got a Supah Stah name — or are already a social media giant — there’s really no other way. Short of buying them, of course, which is shameful. And it gets back to the futility of worrying about the numbers.

2. The kinds of exchanges matter more than just about anything else

The cliché — quality, not quantity — was never more apt than on social media.

3. The social web is full of really generous souls

The leaders of some of my favorite Tweet Chats, for example, have taught me so much. This post lists some of the best chats and the times and days they’re held. The mentors and guides on social media can be truly selfless to those who are open to learn.

4. But, it’s also got a ton of trolls

The thinly skinned are not exempt from at least occasional lobs from these anonymous spoilers. Find some good tips for dealing with them here, in this post by Peg Fitzpatrick. And, just like Mom advised, if you leave them alone, they usually will just give up.

5. It will all make sense, if you keep at it

Twitter was the hardest, for me, to “get.” Unlike my contacts on LinkedIn or Facebook, that was the first social channel where I began interacting with people I didn’t know. What are you supposed to say, anyway? Observation is a master mentor.

6. Until it feels more “normal,” think of social chums like pen pals

I am actually old enough to have had the kind of pen pals who wrote to me with real ink! I’ve used this analogy with some success with clients or others who are just not feeling the vibe on social media, yet. Pen pals, through the ages, have become incredibly close. They didn’t get to see each other (in pre-Skype days) or even talk (it used to be long distance calls were too expensive.) Yet, in sharing stories and conversing and just checking in, regularly, real relationships developed. It’s the same kind of thing on social channels.

7. It’s wise to mostly think, but not actually convey, sarcasm or sassiness on social media

The exceptions are those folks you are so close to that, if they were real neighbors, you’d watch each other’s pets while on vacations. If the person you’re about to hit with a sarcastic barb isn’t as close to you as that, pass. (Don’t forget that everyone you’re both linked to through the channel you’re using can — and will — see it, too. Best to be a bit prudent. You can always let more hang out with a DM.

8. Get a good cheat sheet for all the terms, like DM, you’ll come across

This post has some good, basic definitions that relate to blogging. And this glossary from Social Strand Media is also a good starting point.

9. Use social media for a reason or goal

Otherwise, it’s a lot of wasted time. You need to know what you want to accomplish. Here is a great list of some basic goals to get you started: 12 Most Attainable Goals.

10. Find good teachers

The beauty about the Internet is that it is so delightfully easy to find information, compared to the days when I was still getting real letters from pen pals. (See # 6!) You can spot sound role models by watching how they post, what they say and how they interact. One hint, the best people to watch blog. Here’s a post I really like that offers good tips for relative newbies to the social web. And this author, Rebekah Radice, is definitely a pro!

11. Think big picture

Social media is not about the shiny new sites, channels, tools and apps. Not mostly about that, anyway. Many tens of millions of people — and businesses — are connecting on the social web because of what happens during and after those connections. Social media is powerful. It can, and does, build relationships, customer loyalty, and trust, among other things. This post offers insights into a big-picture view of the social web and the attributes that lead to meaningful interactions.

12. Don’t give up

These days, each of us needs to see ourselves as the “brand” we present to our current or potential employer — or to clients, if you’re in business for yourself. As frustrating as it might get to find your bearings on the social web, you’ve got to persist. Here’s a post that lists a dozen reasons leaders often give to shun social media and then, bam, debunks each one.

These are just a small portion of my epiphanies on social media. Did you have some of the same ones? Different ones? Go on, share yours!

Featured image courtesy of danimagine licensed via Creative Commons.

Becky Gaylord


Becky worked as a reporter for more than 15 years in Washington, D.C.; Sydney, Australia; and Cleveland, Ohio for major publications including the New York Times, Salon.com, Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, and was Associate Editor of the Plain Dealer's Editorial Page before she launched the consulting practice, Gaylord LLC. The company helps clients improve their external relations and communication and increase their influence and impact. Becky blogs about that (a few other things) at Framing What Works.

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I like this list. Some very good observations. I really like the point about using social media with an objective or goal. I am still working out my various objectives with different platforms. I've found it really useful to divide time and the way I use certain networks between content curation, creation, and discovery. It's a work in progress but feels like a positive move. 

Thanks for this article!


Thanks for weighing in, Brian. Yes, I have also been known to send some snark over social channels. I would still caution against doing that, however, unless you are quite sure how it would be received. Not everyone is as good a sport as you, Brian! Thanks for sharing the post, too. @dbvickery 


Yes, it sure is a work in progress! Sounds like you've found a productive approach to -- and blend of -- curating, creating and discovering. Best of luck! @atlumschema