I have 1,061 followers on Twitter, 838 Facebook friends, and more than 500 contacts on LinkedIn as well as assorted friends on Foursquare, Pinterest and other social networking sites. My Klout score is 50. Yet I still don’t feel “popular” online.
When I tweet something and nobody replies or retweets, I think of the old saying about a tree falling in the forest with nobody around to hear it. If I post to Facebook and nobody “likes” my post, I am filled with self-doubt. And when someone unfollows me, I feel like I just lost my best friend.
On the flip side, I get a bit of a thrill when someone (especially a celebrity) replies to one of my tweets or if one of my posts goes viral. And when I get a lot of Facebook “likes,” I feel like Sally Field at the Oscars: “You like me, you really like me!”
What does it take to become one of the “cool kids” on Twitter? And why do I care? Surely my self worth shouldn’t rest on how many Twitter followers I have. On social media, it seems we are constantly seeking validation. Will I never fully get over my junior high school insecurities and need to be liked?
To be popular on social networking sites, like in real life, it helps to be authentic and have a distinct point of view. It also takes a lot of time and work to build online relationships, time and work I’m not always willing to commit.
I recently wrote a list of things not to do on Twitter, which included one thing that I definitely do: I am not consistent about tweeting. I can go for days without tweeting and then suddenly, the mood strikes me and I tweet 3 times in an hour.
To really be popular on Twitter, you need to engage in an ongoing conversation and not disappear. But you also have to have something you really think is worth saying. It’s better not to tweet than to tweet something boring, so I often err on the side of not tweeting at all.
Gizmodo recently wrote tips about how to be popular on Twitter. Their suggestions include spamming friends, going wild with hashtags, and beg for celebrity retweets. Since I’m not willing to do any of the above, I guess I’ll just have to be myself and hope that I’m cool enough and witty and interesting enough to get noticed. And if I never gain a huge following, that’s okay too. Or at least that’s what I tell myself on days when nobody replies to my tweets.
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