I’ve finally figured out the secret. I know now how everyone can end up a Social Media superstar. Are you ready?

Use YOUR brain.

I think that because some people have made such big names for themselves in this space, the temptation is to say, “Well, I’m going to do what they say worked for them, exactly how they did it, because it clearly *did* work for them.” There’s nothing wrong with leaders in this space offering that advice. There’s nothing wrong with reading it and even absorbing it. But you can’t just take it at face value, and I worry that a lot of people are. I am concerned that people read posts as if they were accepting a success-shaped cookie cutter. Social Media is not so simple. There cannot be only one way to do things. Social Media is powered by people, and what do you know about people? We’re all so remarkably different. Our goals are different. Our personalities are different. Our approaches are different. Our companies are different.

Here are some questions that I ask myself when I read a post by someone I admire in this field. These questions help me customize the primary nugget of advice for my own purposes.

1. Does this person’s goal set resemble mine in any way? They are expressing what has helped them achieve their goals, so that’s important. If they have very different goals, I analyze what they are saying and see if I can use the knowledge there to reach my own goals.

2. How long has this person been in this space? They may be pulling on experiences from 2-3 years ago. Twitter and the Blogosphere, from what I understand, have evolved a great deal in that time. What can I use given my own experience in this space?

3. What is the main point this person is trying to make? Do I agree with that? If I do, then the mechanics don’t really matter. I have a prize that I’m shooting for. If I don’t, then I can analyze the mechanics and see if there is something there I could learn from anyway.

If you choose any leader in Social Media, and you look at his or her story, you will see that they approached the huge canvas of Social Media, chose a corner, and painted whatever they wanted to. Then they got really good at it, and then they started to tell the rest of the canvas about it. The key is not to learn how they approach any one facet of what they do. The key is to look at the big picture. How did they find the success that equates to the success you want to have?

Use YOUR brain. Don’t try to be “the next so and so.” They’ve already done that. Take what they have learned and what others have learned, apply it to your own unique situation, and become the very first YOU. If that is your goal, then nothing else matters. Until that is your goal, you will be driving yourself crazy because everything will matter. It really is all about you…in the best way possible.