I have always been a pretty competitive person, all things told. Starting in fifth grade, I decided I wanted to graduate in the top ten of my high school class. I always tried to sell the most cookies in Girl Scouts. I really got to be competitive on my high school speech team. I am not competitive because I want the ego massage. I am competitive because I enjoy the challenge of working darned hard and coming out on top.

The thing is, competition in the world of Social Media doesn’t do a darned bit of good.

Starting last week, I was feeling kind of frustrated with the whole Social Media experience. It seems like every day there’s a new list of people who are “the best of.” People are reaching various  benchmarks in 3 months that I haven’t come close to in 7. While I’m not here for the numbers, let’s face it – being named “one of the best” is always nice. Getting to certain benchmarks that everyone recognizes as good benchmarks is a nice boost.

I talked to some friends and I basically had the same message for all of them. “Man, I don’t know if this Social Media game is for me.” They asked me why I thought that. I named various reasons. “I don’t know, I mean, I look at so and so and they always seem to get retweeted and tons of comments.” “I look at this person who does things totally differently from how I would do them and they are getting accolades like you wouldn’t believe.”

What my friends helped me realize, and what I would like to share with you on this, my almost seven-month anniversary of this blog, is that Social Media really cannot be about how other people or companies are doing. Here are some reasons why.

1. People have all sorts of different goals. I can’t say, “I want to bring in x number of new clients through this medium.” In my business, as in so many, one new customer can take you to new levels of success. So can 27. A certain number of subscribers or followers or fans isn’t really going to help me out in terms of our agency. For other people, number of subscribers means amount of traffic, means amount of times ads are seen, means more clicks and more money.Those sets of goals could hardly be more different.

2. People have been doing the Social Media thing for all kinds of different amounts of time. I have friends who have been playing this game from the beginning. I have friends who started a couple of months ago. Social Media, like gardening, is an act of growth and patience.

3. People do Social Media differently. I am not a big fan of promoting myself. I like to be out there, I like to push out content, but my business goal is not to sell me. My business goal is to be present so that when someone needs help with something that we can do, they will say, “Oh, doesn’t Margie work for her family’s agency?” My personal goal is to continue to meet amazing people and to help people acclimate to this space in a more easy fashion than what I experienced. Other people will push and promote and do all sorts of things, and that’s not wrong. But they will get very different results from what I get, most likely.

Social Media is not like a 100 yard dash. It’s not about speed. It’s not about getting to a single finish line that everyone recognizes as THE finish line. Social Media is more like a marathon. It’s about setting personal goals (and/or professional ones) and striving towards those. Did you hit your mark with that blog you just wrote? Are you hitting your mark when you Tweet? You can’t really look around when you’re running a marathon and get an idea of how you are doing.  All that matters is how are you feeling and whether you will make it all the way through the race.

It’s hard, in this world, not to concentrate on how other people are doing. Other peoples’ bent towards promotion can be distracting sometimes. But the wise counsel of my friends is resonating in my ears. Steady is what wins this race, as if the race ever really ends. I am going to keep doing the best that I can. I’m going to keep trying to run that mile in a shorter and shorter time. I’m going to look straight ahead. I will run the race with you,  but I am not trying to win.