How to Succeed in Social Media

I had a little conversation on Twitter with @SonnyGill last night. Sonny and I don’t chat that often, but we do float around in and out of each others’ radar sometimes. Last night we got to talking about our names. You see, Sonny confessed on his blog that “Sonny” is not his real name. I then confessed to him that “Suze” is not my real name either – it’s a nickname that my Dad gave me when I was a kid. Sonny then joked with me that it was my “personal brand”. And that got me thinking…

When I first got inspired to create my blog (after my trip to Podcamp Toronto in 2007), I raced home to Ottawa, hopped on WordPress, and the first thing it asked me for was a name. I was stumped. I thought, “Well I guess I should make it something sensible”. I tried Sue Murphy, Susan Murphy, smurphy, to no avail, of course, because my name is pretty common. So I thought for a minute, then just typed “SuzeMuse”. Suze, because of the nickname, and “muse” because I figured, well, my blog is going to be (mostly) written, so guess I’d better find my muse, and quick! I then realized that if I was going to be known on my blog as “SuzeMuse”, then I’d better be consistent. I went to a bunch of social network sites and got the username, and also bought the domain. Thus, and quite unintentionally, I might add, the “brand” of SuzeMuse was born.

There are a lot of people out here making social media, personal branding and online marketing much more complicated than it needs to be; to the point where it can be quite intimidating. Making social media work for you isn’t some mysterious secret. It doesn’t require you to be a technical wizard, a brilliant designer, or even a great writer. In fact, the only requirement to be successful in social media is to be…are you ready for it?

A human being.

Stop trying so darn hard. As my friend Kneale Mann says, “This ain’t rocket surgery!”…and I totally agree with him. That’s not to discount all the really smart people that are out here talking in easy to understand ways about social media and how it’s changing the game and making businesses think differently. Social media has fundamentally changed the way we connect with one another. But that doesn’t mean it’s complicated. I think it’s sometimes made out to be way more complicated than it needs to be. Ultimately, there’s really only one way to make all this social media stuff work for you. It doesn’t matter if you are a giant corporation or an individual doing your own thing. All you need to do to succeed in this space is to be yourself. It’s really that simple.

Make time to make it happen. People often ask me how I have the time to run a business, have a healthy marriage, spend time with my family and friends offline, AND work this whole social media thing into the mix. Well the truth is, I don’t actually consider it “working it in”. It’s part of what I do. It’s integrated into my day. I have basically two ways that I work it. I have chunks of time that are totally focused – like hanging out with my nephews or having dinner with my husband. I also have to be entirely focused for tasks like writing a big proposal or strategy. Those times, I am most definitely off-line. But other times, I take an integrated approach, like when I’m checking email or doing a tedious task like rendering video. At these times I tend to flip back and forth – chatting on Skype, popping into Twitter, or commenting on Facebook. I work both things together, and somehow, everything gets done. Does it make me less productive? Actually, I think it has the opposite effect. If I’m sharing what I’m up to, maybe I’m able to help someone else. If I’m checking in on what others are doing, maybe I can pick up something new. It’s all part of how I am just being myself out here.

Make no apologies. Ok, can we do something for once and for all? Can we STOP making such a big deal about making money? How many times a week do I have to listen to people defend themselves online for wanting to actually make a living? I remember Chris Brogan said once “I can’t eat a hug”. (I’m not actually sure where he said that, because dude’s everywhere).

Look – I love social media. I think it’s just great. It’s literally changed my life. Some of the best friends I’ve had in my life I know because I got involved in this stuff. But I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t doing at least some of this because of the opportunities it provides me to make a living. And I make NO apologies for that. Making money should never be your raison d’être for being here – people will find out pretty quick if you are are trying to gain their trust just so you can make a buck off them. But…there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be always looking for opportunities.

Connect with people because you see something in them that appeals to you. Some people will become good friends. Others may lead you to your next big opportunity. Some people may be both friends and opportunities. And that’s okay. If your intentions are good and you do that one simple thing (be a real person), then you’ll be richer in both your relationships and your pocketbook.

If you aren’t reading, you’re not learning. One final tip. If there’s one thing you can do right now to get ahead in social media, it’s to read. I am a voracious reader. I read almost continuously. Sometimes it’s 140 characters at a time, sometimes it’s 500 words in a blog post, sometimes it’s a whole book. But I have learned so much from so many smart people by reading. If I don’t understand something, I’ll first try to figure it out for myself. I’ll draw my own conclusions. Often, I’ll write about it on this blog – that always helps me to sort out my thoughts. I am infinitely curious about new media. I love to think about this stuff. And if I’m still lost? I have conversations. That almost always sorts it out. Read a LOT. Don’t just read what everyone else is reading. Read the stuff that you like to read. Read what you can relate to. That’s how you get ahead.

But most of all, don’t forget, it’s no more complicated than this….

The secret to success in social media is – be human.

Category:social media
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  • September 26, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Very interesting post, and despite I can define myself a great blog I agree on the last point. Reading and listening to our people’s experiences is always useful, in any field. It’s part of any creative process to acquire information from many sources and leave our mind to work them out.
    As a blogger, I have a question, apart the name, is it important to open a blog with a photo, as in your case? Does it make really more personal the contact with readers?
    [rq=728218,0,blog][/rq]Vengo a Roma, cosa mi consigli? …ancora

  • September 26, 2009 at 8:51 am

    great post! Be human, be yourself. Put it out there and the world will self qualify (select) themselves against it and good things happen.


  • September 26, 2009 at 9:00 am

    I don’t know if your timing (posting this on a Saturday) was intentional, but I think it’s perfect. The weekend is a time to relax, and you give permission to do so in this area of life, too.

    Thank you. 🙂
    [rq=728286,0,blog][/rq]Two Weeks

  • September 26, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Sue – another great post. You have a such a way of bringing the heart into what people want to do with social media. People talk tools, efficiencies – you talk “human essence”.

    One thing I’ve thought about is that, unlike Twitter, Facebook and blogs, being human is an infinite resource – there is no end to the depth that we can care for another person, no end to our sense of courage and our sense of humor.

    The web is limited by code and finite connections, but we breath life into that web – and make it very, very human – to the extent that we trust ourselves, and live bold. In that sense, we make social media limitless.

    [rq=728397,0,blog][/rq]How to get more followers on Twitter

  • September 26, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Suze, Everything you wrote rings true for me. People ask me too if social media is another time stealer when I often say I have no time, but you are right, I do it between things and sometimes when I am too tired for a project and sometimes to get inspired. The reading thing, I love social media for that reason especially. I love what I have learned about communication from so many different people and what I have learned about everything through blogs, book references, and experiences relayed or commented in Twitter or Facebook.

    The friends I have made through what started as an experiment to learn more about social media marketing have enriched my life and I am grateful to have them and to find ways to give back.

    Thank you! What do you really want to be called? I change the way I address you almost all the time!
    [rq=728704,0,blog][/rq]LinkedIn or LinkedOut

  • September 26, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Suze! It was great chatting a bit yesterday (and goes to show that we should talk more often!)

    All these points are so true. It’s funny that people think Social Media is exempt from acting like any other real business strategy (making money, being one of them.) I don’t just ‘do’ this social media ‘stuff’ for fun, I do it because I have a passion for it, it’s shaping what my career looks like, where it will go in the future, and it’s helping me learn and grow each and every day. All of this done by, like you said, being human.

    I’m real online as I am off, I’m a real business professional just like that financial adviser and ad exec around the corner – we’re no different. So why should we act as if we’re exempt from this, and why should we be treated as such as well? People can blame it on the newness of this industry, but I’m personally not using it as a scapegoat. It’s time to move on get down to business, I say.

    Thanks for the post, Suze 🙂
    [rq=729036,0,blog][/rq]Tell me one thing…

  • September 26, 2009 at 11:38 am

    I think I’ll go with Ms. Murphy 😉

    Again, you nail it bang on, Suze (oops, there goes Ms. Murphy already!). It IS all about being human in everything we do. Businesses buy from people, not the latest sports car; diners order from people, not the lobster pot; air travelers put their trust in people, not the metal that gets them there.

    Take away the human angle and we may as well automate everything we do. And where’s the satisfaction in that?
    [rq=729176,0,blog][/rq]A Little Thing Called Thank You

  • September 26, 2009 at 12:08 pm
    Mickey Gomez

    Excellent post! I gave an intro to social media presentation just yesterday, and I wish I’d read this before I did. You’ve beautifully captured and responded to points that come up again and again: time and authenticity.

    I first got involved in social media for my nonprofit – trying to discover how to make it “work” for us. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I’m getting a LOT more out of social media involvement than simple promotion. I’m learning, meeting new people, and developing relationships. I’m genuinely interested in other people’s perspectives and getting to know them. And I’m naturally curious and love learning new things. So, like others have said, the time spent using social media is, to me, an investment.

    Authenticity was, I’ll admit, a challenge. At first I was intimidated – are people really interested in what I have to say? Over time I think I’ve loosened up (maybe too much? lol) and I realize now that – like your post says – all I needed to do was be myself. Your friend is right, “It ain’t rocket surgery!” (<–love this). Thanks again!
    [rq=729352,0,blog][/rq]Nonprofit Partner Agencies by Category

  • September 26, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    If any of this is “work”, you are sunk. If you think you can “navigate” or “advertise”, you ain’t in the right place.

    You and I met through the social web and we live in the same city! Sure, we may have met eventually at some thing or another. It may have been a quick up nod, perhaps a “so, what do you do?” and that may have been it.

    But instead, over the course of more than a year, we have shared business ideas, music ideas, good books, fun movies and silly stuff. (Funny that I have yet to meet hubs @G_reg LOL)

    We have become friends, we are members of each other’s army, you are one of my Trust Agents.

    Why? Because we took the time to gain that trust, earn that respect and become friends – not colleagues or co-workers or competitors.

    That, my friend Suze is because I know I can find a soft place to land when I call, email, tweet or see you. Always.

    Market that!
    [rq=730967,0,blog][/rq]Do You Have A Strategic Plan?

  • September 26, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    […] How to Succeed in Social Media   Create, Share, Be Brilliant. Susan Murphy s Personal Blog– Suze… […]

  • September 26, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    Be human. Sounds so simple, yet it’s hard for so many to grasp.

    You make a lot of great points, but “if you aren’t reading, you’re not learning” really got my attention. Been thinking a lot about this lately. This one also seems so simple, but we are conditioned in most traditional jobs not to read because it isn’t billable or doesn’t help us finish a deliverable.

    I read a lot of the 140 character and 500 word posts you mentioned above, but I need to read more books more often. And I’m not sure our places of work will be ok with us “reading on the job” anytime soon.

    That said, any suggestions on making time to read? And any suggestions on some of the best social media books you’ve read lately?
    [rq=731987,0,blog][/rq]KU sports scuffle offers colleges social media lesson

  • September 28, 2009 at 6:12 am

    I for one and looking forward to “Crush It”. Trust Agents is a solid book, combining the human elements we need to nurture alongside technology and how to leverage it.
    [rq=740133,0,blog][/rq]How to get more followers on Twitter

  • October 5, 2009 at 11:07 am

    It’s still fresh after I read it the second time while working on my own website ! Be the real person you are is what I consider most important to be successful at all, whether in social media, cyberspace (do people still use this term?) or real life. Be genuine, be transparent, be YOU.

    Thanks Sue !

  • October 5, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    I’m having a hard time in social media. I don’t know where and how to make a connection.

    I appreciate what you’ve shared here, I will try to be myself and communicate in human terms. 🙂

  • October 12, 2009 at 8:54 am

    So, I have been hiding from my Google reader for weeks now and finally took some time today – of the posts I have missed, this one caught my eye – who doesn’t want to succeed at social media?!

    I appreciate your perspectives – and the reminders to read and thereby learn!

    And to stop apologizing for trying to earn a living! Sometimes my “artistic” side gets in the way of my “rent paying” side.

    Great food for thought for me for sure!
    [rq=867150,0,blog][/rq]Dancers’ News-October 11,2009



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