Many people are wondering how to get ahead in this social media game. After all, most of us are concerned about the numbers: Twitter followers, blog count, Facebook likes etc. In that effort to become better at the game aka grow those numbers, we fall into the trap of being consumed by the effort. It's so easy to become wrapped up in getting ourselves out there to the point where we don't notice anyone else...what other people are doing. As a result some have fallen into the categories of spammers or overly eager self-promoters that never really build the network of trust that we all desire. It's an easy trap to fall into. So how do we avoid it? Don't think so much about the game.

I've written a Journal posting about The Game, on how the only way to not lose the game is to not think about the game. This lesson was presented to me in another form while visiting the Museum of Science and Industry with my family. The game I played with my dad (explained here) comprised of who could relax their mind the most. To relax your mind and not get worked up over who would win, you couldn't think about the game itself. The only way to win the game was to not work up a mental sweat over winning. Just relaxing and letting what came natural happen.

This lesson carried over into my social media life. Nearly a year ago, I wanted to grow my network as fast as I could. I really wasn't interested in learning or conversing as much as I was just riding the ego trip from having a huge number to look at in my analytics. This consumed my thoughts and eventually got me into an annoying self-promoting stage on Twitter. There was no learning going on my end and I eventually was shouting as loud as I could from a mountain top but nobody would listen - mainly because I wouldn't take the time to listen to them.

Then something happened. I quit getting overly concerned about the numbers.

I started connecting with people organically. Finding people who had retweeted my blogs or commented and sending them a note, saying thanks for the props and asking for their thoughts. This move helped me learn more about my craft from others and re-shape my own views (for the better I hope). Another cool thing happened: my numbers grew. Once I quit losing sleep over my blog count and Twitter followers they went up.

Weird right?

The lesson here is to not lose sight on being genuine. If you want people to help you, help others. You want blog comments, comment for other people. You want readers? Go out and read other stuff and learn what's going on outside of your own personal world. Don't worry about your game. People will read through the BS if you aren't genuinely trying to make some sort of difference, no matter how small. Social media is most effective when it's unselfish, when you aren't thinking about the game and just letting things happen organically.

What do you think?