The Biggest Lesson You Can Learn About Social Media

It seems like only yesterday I was working on my “Sixteen Thousand Tweets Later” blog post (well, in reality, it’s already been 8.5 months since that date), and today I’m celebrating another milestone — 20,000 Tweets.

Funny, but even though the number of Tweets since my above-quoted post has increased only by 25%, the number of my followers has nearly doubled (from 3,035 to 5,756); and while discussing the things that they have taught me I did allude to the importance of giving on social media, today I’d like to elaborate on it further. After all, it’s the biggest lesson I personally have learned about social media!

You see, I have built my personal brand almost entirely with the help of social media.

  • In 2005 I started participating in an online forum. Between May 2005 and May 2009 I contributed well over 11,500 posts to it, learning a ton in the process, as well as making a name for myself.
  • On July 16, 2008 I joined Twitter. I didn’t start actively tweeting until I figured out what worked best and what didn’t (Twitter is very different from other forums of social media), but, as you can see, I’m nearing 6,000 followers already.
  • On January 1, 2009 something else happened — something that (together with my active participation in an online forum) has taught me a bunch about social media — I made daily blogging one of my New Year’s resolutions. Ever since then, between my blog posts at and my guest blogging efforts (for example, here), I have put together over 1,100 blog posts.


I’ve also participated in LinkedIn Groups (starting one myself on September 15, 2008 as well) and Answers, done some video-blogging and started a YouTube channel, put together polls, actively participated by commenting on other people’s blogs, and did a lot of other things on social media.

I did burn myself quite a number of times, but by trial and error, I’ve learned something that I’d like to share with you with today: the secret of successful social media marketing is actually quite simple — you cannot take more than you have contributed in the first place. All of the above-quoted social media channels can be extremely effective if you are happy to share (the knowledge, the experiences, and/or the feelings).

If your company is looking for another broadcasting channel, look elsewhere. Social gives us an amazing opportunity (to “communicate directly with buyers”, as David Meerman Scott would put it). You can use it smartly (to grow your business), or abuse it (to bury it). The key, in my opinion, is in mastering the skill of giving.

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