Or, I’m really good at Facebook.
Recently, a lot of people have been asking me to explain Klout. What is it? Why does it give me free stuff? And, I’m left to say, “I’m really good at Facebook.” There’s no better explanation, and it’s true. I’ve figured it out. I know how to get comments and likes. I know which types of content will engage my friends. It sounds terrible to admit that it’s as calculated as that, but it is. And here’s the secret: everyone that works in digital strategy or social media marketing does the same thing. We all use our personal accounts as a way of testing follower growth and engagement strategies. (Will following Crowdbooser’s suggestions improve my retweet rate? Will Twellow’s directory help me to get targeted followers? How far can I push mass follow/unfollow efforts without getting delisted?)
So, being “good at Facebook” – It’s part of my job. But it sounds horrible to say it. Probably because I never was a popular kid. (If life were Mean Girls, I’d be the girl who says, “Once, she punched me in the face. It was awesome.”) But suddenly, I’ve found a space where I can be popular (not Regina George popular, but you know, Topanga popular), where people like what I do and implicitly (maybe?) who I am. The social rules – I get them, as I never did in high school. Growing up, I struggled to understand that there was such a thing as trying too hard. That one could be too earnest. I spent so many nights in middle school crying in bed, wondering why they wouldn’t just like me? What was wrong with me? And how could I fix it?
Of course, I never did fix it; but I grew into me, and found that I like me. And then I found other people who like me, or my content anyway. In middle school, they laughed because I talked about Buffy. Now they retweet it, with the hashtag #SMGisback. In high school, I would have given anything for some of the comments that I now receive from old classmates via Facebook. No one ever told me that they liked my dress or that I was funny or a good writer. But now they do. And while I like it and appreciate it (by all means, this post doesn’t mean that you should stop saying nice things about me), it doesn’t mean nearly what it would have meant then.
They “like” me, they really “like” me
Now, via Facebook, I receive so much happy, positive encouragement. Rarely does a post go by without someone liking it. No one ever liked what I did, or who I was. And back then, I didn’t either. But now I do. I’ve found that I’m smart and strong, that I’m a good cook and a good friend and, I like to think, a good writer. Or maybe I’m just good at Facebook.
Being “good at Facebook” – It doesn’t really mean anything. I can’t bring it up at dinner parties. I don’t think that I can list it as a skill on my resume. (Although, if I continue in social media marketing, maybe I can.) But, I think it may belie some other skills. Facebook’s an art, not a science. (And all of these updates to the newsfeed algorithm are messing with my art.) It takes understanding of people and their motivations, of what they like and what moves them to action.
I’m not the only social media Swan Princess
All of us who do social media, all of us who are “good at Facebook”, we’re outsiders in a way. We’re better at interacting with people through the filter of a digital medium. We’re funnier when we can pause the stream and walk away before replying. We build stronger relationships when we have the chance to craft our message before sending it. We’re extroverts, but we’re more engaging from afar; we can even kind of off-putting in person.
I’d bet that I’m not alone in this. That many, if not most, social media people weren’t the cool kids. That they were the kids on the sidelines, too, who spent hours just watching the popular kids, trying to get it. All those hours of watching? They were so painful at the time. But, now I think they’re paying off. Now I finally get the A + B = C of shallow friendships. (Yes, I say things like that. Now do you see why I was intolerable in middle school?) I finally understand the rules that I never could before. And if I had the chance to be Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed, I’d rock it. But somehow, I don’t think I’m going back to high school undercover, so I’ll settle for being good at Facebook.
Questions of the day: Are you good at Facebook? Were you good at high school? Is it possible to be both?
MaggieCakes is a blog about social media, marketing, culture, and what’s new on the internet written by me, Maggie O’Toole. Every day (okay, I try for every day) I comb blogs and news outlets for the news about internet culture and social media to bring them to you (with my commentary, of course) here on MaggieCakes. Find anything interesting in the worlds of culture or social media that you’d like to see a post on? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.