If you would have looked at my Twitter a month and a bit ago, you would have seen I had about 400ish followers and I was following 500ish people.

I’d probably tweet 2-3 times a day on average about things I was thinking about, responding to people, or the odd thing I thought was interesting.

But for a guy whose pitching himself in all things social and digital, likely appears quite weak.

So I wrote a blog post about practicing what you preach and committed to 7 things to help me grow my social media presence.

And you know what? It worked (even though I didn’t stick 100% to the plan – maybe 50%).

In just over a month, I’ve gone from 400 followers to over 1,000.¬†

Great…? Nope. The problem?

In the process, I started following a ton of people. I’m now following 1,800 people.

But I now can’t do the #1 rule for social media – be social.

There’s so many people in that mix that I have no clue who they are, what they’re about, or they’re just pumping out so much stuff, there’s really no opportunity to respond meaningfully.

Plus, it’s just overwhelming.

It’s crazy as I look around at other social media consultants and see that some of them are amazing in that they have 10’s or 100’s of thousands of followers, but lots of them are following the same amount of people.

What’s weird?

Tons are in the same boat of hardly being social. They can’t be. They may pick off the odd thing, but they’ve mostly turned into churning out post after post of “helpful” social media content.

Yes, it’s likely helped them be successful. But that’s not how I want to live my life.

I used to love Twitter.

It was the drama-free Facebook where you could connect with people you only sorta knew or knew of without coming across creepy. And un-following someone is so much less problematic than un-friending someone.

I love the creativity it requires to say something meaningful in 140 characters.

It was my favourite platform because you could easily curate what you wanted to see.

But now? I hate it.

Information overload with so much stuff that I honestly don’t care about.

And to what end? To gather a bunch more followers and show off my social media prowess?

Forget it.

I’m not a business. I’m a person.

And I never want anything to take away from that.

So I’m going back on what I said. I was wrong.

I don’t want to grow my social media presence or following.

I don’t want to pump out tons of useful, great content.

I don’t want to become an expert that people want to follow.

I don’t want find tons of new people to follow.

I just want to be really social, connect with people I know or know about, and love doing that.

If that means I get less business, so be it.

But I don’t think it will be. If I’m doing a great job of helping businesses be successful online (which is a different game), they’ll refer me. And it won’t matter so much whether I have 300 followers or 50,000.

If they look at it deeply, they’ll see someone who understands what a normal person, like their customers, are thinking and feeling on social.

Last thought.

What the whole process has taught me is how valuable listening and following the right people is.

I don’t take for granted how awesome my Twitter feed was before and the things people were sharing. I could connect with it. And I should have connected with it more! Responding, re-tweeting, favouriting, engaging.

That’s what I’m going to do as I begin to pare back my followers to the people I really want to follow.

Maybe over time that will lead into me connecting with more and more people, but the process will be slow.

And I’m good with that.

photo credit: takashi ogino via photopin cc