When Mary Richards was forced to spend her first Christmas Eve in Minneapolis working alone at WJM-TV, she was sad that she couldn’t spend the holiday with her parents. But her boss and coworkers surprised Mary shortly before midnight, cheering her lonely spirit and redefining family for the millions who watched The Mary Tyler Moore Show when it first aired in 1970 or in the four decades since.
Social media can feel a lot like a deserted newsroom when you post your first profile. But it can, in time, renew your sense of community and spawn virtual connections and friendships you might never have found in the so-called real world.
And it just takes one Lou Grant to make you stop feeling like a social media snowflake lost in a Twitter blizzard. Or a single Murray Slaughter to make you realize that Google Plus is a community, not just a bunch of confusing circles and plus-ones.
In my case, it took Rebekah Radice to convince me that my social media experiment was not a mistake.
When I launched KOTAW Content Marketing in June, I pledged to practice what I preached to my clients about social media. Before, as a solopreneur, I’d lectured business owners about social media “best practices” and chided them when they told me it was too hard — impossible — to make meaningful connections on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or Google Plus. But, I’d never really put my “no tricks, all treats” theory to a personal test.
My theory was simple:
If you share great stuff, find interesting people and show genuine interest in them, success in social media will follow.
After seven weeks of sharing, finding and showing, I started to feel compassion for my complaining clients. I was tempted to apply some marketing magic to my efforts or give up in quiet, embarrassed defeat. But I pushed on and a few days later stumbled upon an infographic that Rebekah had posted and someone in my circles had shared.
Hmm, this is interesting, I thought when I saw the infographic titled “50 Ways to Take a Break.” I want to learn more about the person who shared something that made me smile. I want to meet the person who made me feel like flying a kite on a blistering hot summer day.
And with nary a further moment of pondering, I wrote to Rebekah. We spent much of the rest of the day chatting and, within a week or so, discovered mutual professional interests — social media, writing and personal branding — and myriad personal interests, ranging from authors (James Patterson), musical artists (Sara Bareilles) and comedic actresses (Lucille Ball).
Rebekah was someone I genuinely liked, whom I found fascinating and who seemed to find me reasonably interesting as well. I didn’t know when I contacted her that she was a social media powerhouse or that we lived within blocks of each other. I didn’t pursue her for personal or professional gain. I just wanted to know her better.
I’m thrilled that I’ve gotten the chance to laugh together both online and off and that Rebekah made me her Santa hat buddy last week.
And I’m beyond delighted that I asked her the question that makes this more than a personal anecdote, the question that makes this a lesson in social media marketing strategy.
“Do you know anyone else interesting I should follow?”
Rebekah’s answer to this query made the real magic happen. Her suggestions and personal introductions helped turn me into a social media butterfly and, more important, created connections of enormous professional and personal consequence.
I’m not going to mention the names Rebekah gave me. For one thing, I don’t want some random reader to spam anyone in the amazing community that has so graciously included me as a member. For another, the list of names keeps growing and I don’t want anyone to read this a week, month or year from now and feel left out. (If you’re reading this and wondering, “Am I on the list?” of course you are! If you have any doubts, just ask me.)
More important, the message here is that you should do whatever it takes — for as long as it takes — to find your own success in social media.
The only connections that count are the ones that matter to you.
Make them, nurture them, protect them.
Don’t give up on social media. Put my theory to the test and you’ll discover, “You’re gonna make it after all.”
P.S. I don’t know for certain if I first reached out to Rebekah in July. It may have been August — the month we first met for iced tea — but I liked the Christmas in July title better.
It’s better to give than to receive, but I do want something from you: your comments! Please share your thoughts below. Wishing you and your loved ones a fabulous holiday season!