Ugly Ducklings and Social Media Success

16 Sep

Or, I’m really good at Facebook.

Swan DucklingsRecently, 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?)

Mean GirlsSo, 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

WritingNow, 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

DariaAll 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

6 Responses to “Ugly Ducklings and Social Media Success”

  1. littlenavyfish September 17, 2011 at 4:41 am #

    I love your posts! They’re so clear and thoughtful, and I regularly find myself nodding along. In response to the questions of the day, I’m not naturally great at Facebook. I’m on it about once a day and often forget to respond to people’s posts/comments – but I’ve been at university for a year now and I’m forcing myself to be better, because it’s an easy way of keeping up with friends who are far away. Although three of my friends and I write letters and postcards to each other, and I way prefer that kind of communcation – post is exciting! And I was OK at secondary school, in the sense that I plodded along without too much trauma for most of it. I wasn’t part of the popular crowd, but I didn’t really like many of the people who were the popular crowd – mostly they were mean and bitchy and liked to make other people feel uncomfortable – so it didn’t matter so much…

    • Maggie O'Toole September 17, 2011 at 8:52 am #

      Awesome, thanks. I usually think that they’re about as clear as mud, so I’m glad to hear that someone’s able to muddle through them. I “learned” to use Facebook when I was in college, too, but that was right when it had started and we used it to keep up with the people that were right down the hall. Thinking back, it was a bit ridiculous. We’d all go to a party together and take pictures, then post them to Facebook. Then, even though sometimes we were literally down the hall, we’d “like” the pictures rather than just walking over and saying, “Hey, that’s a great picture.”

      I wish I got real, physical mail. It’s pretty much all bills and junk mail.. oh, and debt collection notices for the guy who lived in my apartment before me. Not nearly as exciting as postcards from friends.

      Sounds like your high school experience was great. Maybe you were a gamma girl. Really, mine wasn’t all that terrible. It got better as I got older and I even loved senior year. It was just that terrible 12 – 15 phase of life…

  2. Paul Leroux September 17, 2011 at 6:28 am #

    Unlike you, I’m not very good at Facebook. (Twitter is my poison of choice.) I find “Likes” are unsatisfactory. I would prefer that someone leave a comment, as I am doing right now. I had an article published on a website, and got only two comments and five “Likes”. Not very encouraging, right? But I got almost 1,400 page views. Now, that’s something to crow about!

    • Maggie O'Toole September 17, 2011 at 8:24 am #

      Hey, 1400 page views is quite impressive, regardless of the number of likes. I’m jealous. Also, I just joined Twitter. Who are you there?

  3. georgettesullins September 17, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    I think FP should check out comments and commenters. There are those who like, those who comment and those who really craft a comment. I love visiting one particular site not only for the site but for the conversation/discussion it generates.

    • Maggie O'Toole September 17, 2011 at 8:25 am #

      I wonder how far they really dig before picking someone for FP. I get that it’s about the post, but so many times the ones that are picked feel like they’re one great post in a blog full of mediocre content. I want FP to introduce me to blogs that I’ll keep coming back to. And discussion is one of the things that keeps me coming back.

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