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Social media early adopters sadly resting on their laurels

Have you met the guy who signed up for Twitter in 2008 and tells you about it every chance they get as if that implies they know anything about social media? Let’s examine how this resting on laurels came to be.

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Social media people resting on their laurels

At a social media event last night, a mixture of people new to the industry sat alongside industry insiders who pioneered the space, and the discussion was lively. I came to a halt, however, when an attendee made a reference to having been on Twitter many years ago, making it sound a lot like they somehow invented the space. It got me to thinking… how many other people are resting on their laurels?

The graphic I created above is obviously a mockery of those who exaggerate their role in the early days of social media, but rest on their laurels of having been an early adopter. Social media experts are about as common as sales people – there’s no shortage of someone who will take your money and show you how to sign up for Twitter, especially those who were there in the early days.

The rise of the social media expert coincided with massive unemployment, so while many legitimate experts were born, there were also thousands of unemployed people poking around the internet that discovered Twitter and Facebook and saw people there figuring out how to use it as a marketing tool, so light bulbs went off and the guru era ensued. Great.

Fast forward to today, and you have people that haven’t accomplished a whole hell of a lot since they signed up for (sorry, I mean pioneered) Twitter. Sure, we (@BennRosales and I) were some of the first people on Twitter, in fact, I looked it up today and my personal account was created five years, seven months, and two days ago, making my account older than 99.8 percent of all Twitter accounts, according to Twopcharts.

But I am an established pioneer, I swear

So shouldn’t I be telling people that every time I encounter someone to really demonstrate my prowess, to prove what an expert I am, and to instill in minds of many that my very presence on Twitter so early means that I am an established pioneer who knows more than anyone else who has figured out how to sign up for Twitter since?

No. I shouldn’t. Not only because it’s a douche move, but because resting on laurels is a lazy move, and an ignorant one, because let’s be honest, just because someone was on Twitter in 1983 (I kid), does not mean they know anything about marketing or social media. You’ve signed up for Twitter and know how to tweet – is the actual act really that difficult? Nope.

Although I am confident that Benn and I did play a role in helping shape the very culture of Twitter and helped businesses to understand the tools, we didn’t stop there – in fact, there are thousands of articles on this very website that catalog our continued involvement in and shaping of the community, we’ve hosted dozens of events on the topic over the years, and we’ve even won a few trophies along the way.

When someone proclaims how long they’ve been on Twitter as if they invented it, my first thought is, “okay, great, but what have you done since?” Most people that puff their chest about having been on the internet in 2007 don’t have much to brag about since, because news outlets have stopped calling to interview them as the glorious marvels of early adoption. Most of them peaked around 2008.

Next time someone rolls their eyes at social media information and proclaim they’ve been on Twitter since forever, ask yourself what they’ve done since. Many of these people are the same nerds that like to casually (and frequently) mention in conversation that they were on the football team in high school, and will probably slip in a few of their stats even though you were talking about something completely unrelated. That’s exactly what they’re doing when they assert that the age of their Twitter account implies they’re superior social media beings. What have you done since high school or since you signed up for Twitter, bro? In most cases, probably not much.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and sister news outlet, The Real Daily, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Allen Mireles

    August 21, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    I have met the type of person you describe in this post, Lani. I understand your frustration. I am also an early-ish adopter of Twitter (and many of the other social platforms) and my usage has changed drastically over the years. It’s fair to wonder what people are doing with their social profiles now, especially after so many years and so many changes. Especially if they imply that early adoption equates with expertise on any level.

    It’s also really interesting to watch the ebb and flow of involvement in social networks. People change how they use Twitter as they change–and as it changes. There are so many reasons. Some of us are still working through a protracted “social media existential crisis”. Others have gotten bored. Some are still using the platforms to do nothing but broadcast.

    In the end, if someone needs to promote the fact that they are early adopters of a technology or a social network, I think it’s fun to ask them for their observations on how things have changed over time and even where they predict things may be going. The response can be very telling!

    • Lani Rosales

      August 21, 2013 at 12:08 pm

      Allen, that is a GREAT suggestion – people that only know one moment of the timeline (aka, their glory days on Twitter), they can’t tell you the rest of the timeline and as you suggest, can’t possibly predict the future.

      Thank you for reading, digesting, and not being a social media douche 😉

      • Allen Mireles

        August 21, 2013 at 12:14 pm

        lol, perhaps we need to create badges saying: “I am NOT a social media douche.”

        • bobledrew

          August 21, 2013 at 3:24 pm

          And then all the douches would start wearing them, so we could shun them!

          • Lani Rosales

            August 21, 2013 at 6:31 pm

            Yeah, the douches always like to think they’re not douches. They are usually so *edgy* and cool.

  2. Danny Brown

    August 21, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Go to LinkedIn, see what “early adopters” have done pre-2006. That tells you all you need to know. 😉

    • Lani Rosales

      August 21, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      “Sprint sales assistant to the regional manager 2005-2006
      Gap shirt folder/sniffer 2004-2005
      Full time Phish tour fanatic 2000-2004”

      Am I close?

  3. Ken Brand

    August 21, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    You and a very few others are the “real deal”. I’ve learned a lot from you guys and I’m thankful. The Poser/Pretender ratio to Pro is about 1,787 to 1.

    • Lani Rosales

      August 21, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      I think you’re being generous with your ratio 😉 But thanks for the props – you were right there with us, buddy!

  4. agbenn

    August 21, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Hello, my name is Benn, and I too suffer from early adoption. Know anyone hiring?

    • Lani Rosales

      August 21, 2013 at 1:26 pm

      LOL. Great response 😉

  5. Lani Rosales

    August 21, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Mickey, perfectly put. Perfectly.

    Thank you so much for adding such meaningful thoughts!

  6. Lani Rosales

    August 21, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Julie, you’re exactly right. That evidence is often flimsy – having a job somewhere isn’t really evidence, but is typically used as such. And for the record, my comment about trophies was a jab as well – they don’t mean much in the scope of things.

  7. Rich Becker

    August 21, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    As the old saying goes: Some people who work somewhere for 10 years have 10 years of experience. Other people who work somewhere for 10 years will have one year of experience ten times. There is a difference, no matter what they did in high school.

    • Lani Rosales

      August 21, 2013 at 6:33 pm

      Great point, Rich. You’re exactly right.

  8. bobledrew

    August 21, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    A friend of mine is having a slight struggle shaping her career plan right now. She feels her resume isn’t solid enough and that she’s too young to be taken seriously. But I look at what she’s accomplished and marvel at the quality and of the output given her time in the social media field. There needs to be some common ground between the “whippersnapper” who’s hired simply because they’re young, and the guru-by-inertia at the other end of the scale. Perhaps we need to judge people by their words and their deeds, not simply by the capricious numbers of age and “years of experience”.

    • Lani Rosales

      August 21, 2013 at 6:32 pm

      Bob, that’s a great point and one I failed to mention in my column – a lot of people who have only been practicing in the field for two or three years have done amazing things but are often slighted based on the age of their Twitter account.

      I’m with you – this has to change. Businesses can’t be fleeced anymore by the idiot gurus who simply say they were there first. So what?

  9. hessie jones

    August 21, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    I know ALL too well how many people boast about being earliest to the Twitter and LI platforms, but never having done anything with their account. Somehow the early bird seems to have carried more weight. I know people who are far more effective than I am on Twitter, who came on to the platform much later than myself and were able to garner more engagement and more momentum in the process. Early doesn’t mean they get it. This could have been happenstance. I like what @bobledrew:disqus said: Judge by your “words and deeds, not simply by the capricious numbers of age and “years of experience”.

    • Lani Rosales

      August 21, 2013 at 6:34 pm

      Hessie, right on. “Happenstance” is one of the best words to describe this entire phenomena that isn’t unique to social media, it just happens to be where we are on the timeline of social media’s history.

      Do you think businesses are wising up to the gurus that hang their hat on being first to Twitter?

  10. Kami Watson Huyse

    August 22, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    In the world of online marketing it really only matters what you have done for me lately. Early adopters have some cred, but their current accomplishments mean a lot more, and how they synthesize and use what they have seen over the years is even more critical. Ask for case studies and beware the snake oil.

    • Lani Rosales

      August 22, 2013 at 1:24 pm

      Yes! Any “expert” who can’t provide a case study or reference to someone they’ve actually worked with is not legit. And unfortunately common. Snake oil salespeople – you nailed it, Kami!

  11. Lani Rosales

    August 22, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    “I’ve already stopped listening,” YES. THAT.

    You and Kami are on to a bigger point – due diligence is necessary and six years later, people actually know how to Google you now instead of taking your word that you’re a ninja guru maven expert sensei or whatever.

    Thank you for your commentary, it is always a delight to hear your perspective!

    • Tinu

      August 22, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      Don’t get me wrong. Despite the easy use of Google, LOTS Of people don’t do their due diligence, or think that a recommendation is enough.

      And if these discussions didn’t exist, when people look up things like due diligence and social media, they don’t have a starting point from a trusted source. I think it’s important that we keep talking about it, if for no other reason than to have a 3rd party article to send the people who trust us to read.

  12. Loren Nason

    September 8, 2015 at 1:32 am

    I’ve been on twitter longer than you. So that makes me better than you.
    HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAH

  13. Warren Whitlock

    September 8, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    It’s not yet time to write a history of social media… We are just now getting started.

    I have no problem with somebody deciding not to use Twitter. I do find it troubling that those same people think they understand.

    I am just now learning new things about Twitter. Seven years after I wrote the first book about the Twitter Revolution. The only thing that’s changed is the number of people who think they have it figured out… Those of us using Twitter far outnumber them

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Opinion Editorials

9 ways to be more LGBTQIA+ inclusive at work

(OPINION EDITORIALS) With more and more people joining the LGBTQIA+ community it’d do one well to think about ways to extend inclusiveness at work.

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LGBTQIA+ people may have won marriage equality in 2015, but this momentous victory didn’t mean that discrimination was over. Queer and LGBTQIA+ identified people still have to deal with discrimination and not being in a work environment that supports their identities.

Workplace inclusivity may sound like the hottest new business jargon term on the block, but it actually just a professional way of making sure that everyone feels like a valued team member at the office. Business psychologists have found when people are happy to go to work, they are 12 percent more productive.

Making your business environment a supportive one for the queer community means you’re respecting employees and improving their workplace experience.

Here’s nine ways you can make your workplace more inclusive for LGBTQIA+ people.

1) Learn the basics.
If you’re wanting to make your workplace more open to LGBTQIA+ people, it’s best to know what you’re talking about. Firstly, the acronym LGBTQIA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual and the plus encompassing other identities not named; there are many variants on the acronym. Sexual orientations (like lesbian, gay, bisexual) are not the same as gender identities.

Transgender means that that person “seeks to align their gender expression with their gender identity, rather than the sex they were assigned at birth.” Cisgender means a person identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth. If you need a more comprehensive rundown about sexual orientation, gender identity, and the like, visit the GLAAD reference guide.

2) Stop using the word “gay” as an insult.
Or insinuating people you don’t like are “gay” together. This is the most basic thing that can be done for workplace inclusivity regarding the queer community. Anything that actively says that LGBTQIA+ people are “lesser” than their straight counterparts can hurt the queer people on your team and make them not feel welcome. It’s not cool.

3) Don’t make jokes that involve the LGBTQIA+ community as a punchline.
It’s not cute to make a “funny quip” about pronouns or to call someone a lesbian because of their outfit. This kind of language makes people feel unwanted in the workplace, but many won’t be able to speak up due to the lack of protections about LGBTQIA+ identities in anti-discrimination statutes. So stop it.

4) Support your colleagues.
If you’re in a situation and hear negative or inappropriate talk regarding the LGBTQIA+ community, stick up for your co-workers. Even if they’re not there, by simply expressing that what was said or done was inappropriate, you’re helping make your workplace more inclusive.

5) Avoid the super probing questions.
It’s okay to talk relationships and life with coworkers, but it can cross a line. If you have a transgender colleague, it’s never going to be appropriate to pry about their choices regarding their gender identity, especially since these questions revolve around their body.

If you have a colleague who has a differing sexual orientation than yours, questions about “how sex works” or any invasive relationship question (“are you the bride or the groom”) is going to hurt the welcomeness of your office space. Just don’t do it.

6) Written pronoun clarity is for everyone!
One thing that many LGBTQIA+ people may do is add their pronouns to their business card, email signature, or name badge for clarity. If you’re cisgender, adding your pronouns to these things can offer support and normalize this practice for the LGBTQIA+ community. Not only does it make sure that you are addressed correctly, you’re validating the fact that it’s an important business practice for everyone to follow.

7) Tokens are for board games, not for people.
LGBTQIA+ people are often proud of who they are and for overcoming adversity regarding their identity. However, it’s never ever going to be okay to just reduce them to the token “transgender colleague” or the “bisexual guy.”

Queer people do not exist to earn you a pat on the back for being inclusive, nor do they exist to give the final word on marketing campaigns for “their demographic.” They’re people just like you who have unique perspectives and feelings. Don’t reduce them just to a token.

8) Bathroom usage is about the person using the bathroom, not you.
An individual will make the choice of what bathroom to use, it does not need commentary. If you feel like they “don’t belong” in the bathroom you’re in due to their gender presentation, don’t worry about it and move on. They made the right choice for them.

An easy way to make restroom worries go away is creating gender neutral restrooms. Not only can they shorten lines, they can offer support for transgender, nonbinary, or other LGBTQIA+ people who just need to go as much as you do.

9) Learn from your mistakes.
Everyone will slip up during their journey to make their workplace more inclusive. If you didn’t use the correct pronouns for your non-binary colleague or misgender someone during a presentation, apologize to them, correct yourself, and do better next time. The worst thing to do is if someone corrects you is for you to shut down or get angry. An open ear and an open heart is the best way to make your work environment supportive for all.

The workplace can be a supportive environment for LGBTQIA+ people, or it could be a hurtful one, depending on the specific culture of the institution. But with some easy changes, it can be a space in which queer and LGBTQIA+ people can feel respected and appreciated.

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Opinion Editorials

“Starting a business is easy,” said only one guy ever

(OPNION EDITORIAL) Between following rules, finding funding, and gathering research, no business succeeds without lifting a finger.

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While browsing business articles this week, I came across this one, “Top 10 Business Ideas You Can Start for Free With Barely Lifting a Finger.” These types of articles make me mad. I can’t think of many successful freelancers or entrepreneurs who don’t put in hours of blood, sweat and tears to get a business going.

The author of the article is Murray Newlands, a “VIP Contributor.” Essentially, he’s a freelancer because he also contributes to Forbes, HuffPro and others. He’s the founder of ChattyPeople.com, which is important, because it’s the first business idea he promotes in the article.

But when I pull up his other articles on Entrepreneur.com, I see others like “How to Get Famous and Make Money on YouTube,” “Win Like A Targaryen: 10 Businesses You Can Start for Free,” and “10 Ventures Young Entrepreneurs Can Start for Cheap or Free.”

I seriously cannot believe that Entrepreneur.com keeps paying for the same ideas over and over.

The business ideas that are suggested are pretty varied. One suggestion is to offer online classes. I wonder if Newlands considered how long it takes to put together a worthy curriculum and how much effort goes into marketing said course.

Then, you have to work out the bugs, because users will have problems. How do you keep someone from stealing your work? What happens when you have a dispute?

Newlands suggests that you could start a blog. It’s pretty competitive these days. The most successful bloggers are ones that really work on their blog, every day. The bloggers have a brand, offer relevant content and are ethical in how they get traffic.

Think it’s easy? Better try again.

I could go on. Every idea he puts up there is a decent idea, but if he thinks it will increase your bottom line without a lot of hard work and effort, he’s delusional.

Today’s entrepreneurs need a plan. They need to work that plan, rethink it and keep working. They have to worry about liability, marketing and keeping up with technologies.

Being an entrepreneur is rewarding, but it’s hard work. It is incredibly inappropriate and grossly negligent to encourage someone to risk everything they have and are on the premise of not lifting a finger.

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Opinion Editorials

Why freelancers should know their worth

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Money is always an awkward talking point and can be difficult for freelancers to state their worth.

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Recently, I delved into what I’ve learned since becoming a freelancer. However, I neglected to mention one of the most difficult lessons to learn, which was something that presented itself to me rather quickly.

“What is your fee for services?” was not a question I had prepared myself for. When it came to hourly rates, I was accustomed to being told what I would make and accepting that as my worth.

This is a concept that needs multiple components to be taken into consideration. You need to evaluate the services you’re providing, the timeliness in which you can accomplish said services, and your level of expertise.

Dorie Clark of the Harvard Business Review believes that freelancers should be charging clients more than what they think they’re worth. The price you give to your clients is worth quite a bit, itself.

Underpricing can send a bad message to your potential clients. If they’re in the market for your services, odds are they are comparing prices from a few other places.

Having too low of a number can put up a red flag to clients that you may be under-experienced. What you’re pricing should correlate with quality and value; set a number that shows you do good work and value that work.

Clark suggests developing a network of trustworthy confidants that you can bounce ideas off of, including price points. Having an idea of what other people in your shoes are doing can help you feel more comfortable when it comes to increasing prices.

And, for increasing prices, it is not something that is going to just happen on its own. It’s highly unlikely for a client to say, “you know what, I think I’ll give you a raise!”

It’s important to never take advantage of any client, but it’s especially important to show loyalty to the ones that have always been loyal to you. Test the waters of price increasing by keeping your prices lower for clients that have always been there, but then try raising prices as you take on new clients.

At the end of the day, keep in mind that you are doing this work to support yourself and, theoretically, because you’re good at it. Make sure you’re putting an appropriate price tag on that value.

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