Pondering: Practice Makes Perfect

Ok, maybe not perfect but really, really good! In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers he talks about how it takes 10,000 hours to become a superstar. Think about how long that is!

The argument of Outliers: (via Seth Godin’s post)

  • Where you’re born and when you’re born have an enormous amount to do with whether or not you’re successful.
  • Becoming a superstar takes about 10,000 hours of hard work.
  • Both of the bullet points above are far more important than the magical talent myth.

Now equate this to social media: 10,000 hours to become exceptional at something! And now consider folks who are self-proclaimed experts/thought leaders/gurus. There are some who have put in considerable time and effort into their social media and this SHOWS! And others who have purchased followers or used the #teamfollowback method of gaining numbers to appear that they are a BIG DEAL due to their follower count. Size doesn’t equate quality!

There is no Disney Fast Pass to social media expertise or any expertise. Let’s do some math. So let’s say Susie works in social media 10 hours a day, 6 days a week (we will split 5 hours Saturday and Sunday) or 60 hours a week for 3,120 hours a year. It will take Susie 3.20 years to become a social media zen master. Honestly, that is really doable for a very motivated person and there are those who have done it.

Power tip: Look beyond the number of followers to decide if someone is indeed a leader. Check their followers and who they are following. Are they following quality people? Or do you see a lot of eggs and no profiles? If they have 20,000+ followers and 4,000 tweets, chances are they purchased their followers. Read their tweets and posts. Are they providing consistent quality or just tweeting a quick thanks? Have they built a body of work on their own blog and guest posted on others?  The exception is celebrities who gain large followings due to their offline celebrity.

Another thing that I have seen a lot of lately is people setting up social media businesses without any experience. How do I know they have no experience? They are pitching that they can manage your Twitter account and Facebook page yet they have a few hundred followers or very few fans. Make sure you ask for examples of work that they have done or accounts they have managed. A social presence is there for all the world to see, for better or worse. Successful people who have earned their followers established their followers through hard work and continue this everyday to maintain their interest.

Beware of snake oil salesmen and charlatans.

Positive example: Mari Smith has 5,350 Facebook friends, 318,000 Facebook subscribers and 153,863 Twitter followers. She worked very hard to build her following and continues to build and grow her thought leadership by speaking, writing and continuing her social media efforts.

Look beyond the very surface of the issue here and make sure that you are basing your judgements and decisions on practical matters. Not fluff.

Positive example: Jay Baer has 16,000 rss subscribers, 3,473 Facebook fans, 57,452 Twitter followers and 14,467 have circled him on Google+. Why? He is consistently publishing stellar social media content on Convince and Convert and is a popular keynote speaker. People who are true leaders put the time in, not just once, but everyday to maintain and grow. There is no resting on your laurels in social media.

Power tip: If you want to grow your social media presence, start a blog or dust off the one that you haven’t written on in ages. Comment on other’s blogs and join the online conversation. And know that it will take time to become proficient and build a true following.

Check people’s blog, tweet streams and decide for yourself who to work with and look up to. Take the time to do a little research and make informed decisions. And have fun as you practice and learn your way to social media expertise!