The Upper Class of Social Media is Failing Us

social media rock star

In my daughter's high school they had an area that was sacred to seniors called the “senior rug”. The “senior rug” was a comfortable section built into an area in the main halls of her high school where the upper class could hang out. No freshmen or junior class were allowed on the senior rug.

Sounds mean, doesn't it? In theory, it provides the seniors with a sense of accomplishment and pride. And perhaps it provides the lower classmen with an eagerness to step up so one day the rug is theirs. Like any class system, though, the hazard is the growing separation between the upper class and the others.

Back in the early days of social media, there was no class system. When someone wrote a great blog post on the blogosphere, we all cheered the author on and promoted their post. In fact, for a long time I used to only promote blog posts of new blogs that I discovered in an effort to encourage them and ensure they got a piece of the spotlight. Many of my friends online today were folks that discovered and shared my blog or vice versa.

Social media has changed. A class system is absolutely in place. And the upper class is comfortably alienating the world from their “senior rug”. I'm not part of the upper class, but I'd like to think I'm close. But sometimes it doesn't feel like it. I reach out to many in the upper class and they don't respond. They don't respond on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or even by email.

Disclosure: This post may very well describe my behavior, too. I'm not criticizing others in as much as simply observing a change in the social media universe.

It's amazing. While these folks are writing books on the power of social media and telling their stories of the opportunities others gave them, they neglect to reach out a hand to the next person. I read many of their blogs and see tons of comments from dedicated followers that are retweeting, sharing and congratulating them on the great content… with no response from the pundit. None. Not a peep.

With the growth of this industry, I'm in no way stating that every request has to be answered – the numbers are simply too large. I, myself, have found it impossible to respond to every request. But I do try. If a conversation sparks on my social network and I know about it, I absolutely feel compelled to join the conversation. It's the least that I can do given that my social media network wouldn't have the authority if it wasn't for every single reader and follower.

I'm not going to name names, nor am I going to say it's everyone. There are plenty of exceptions. However, there are also plenty of social media rock stars that don't eat their own dog food. They go out and write books, speak and consult with major corporations – scolding them when they're not transparent nor engaged. And then they call up their other upper class buddies and chat with them over a nice bottle of wine at the local valley steak house – ignoring their own network.

Don't believe the hype folks. If you're following one of these professionals, buying their books and going to watch them speak… take a few minutes out to review their activity. Do they follow their own guidance? Do they reply to freshman and juniors on their Facebook page? Do they retweet great comments from followers who have no following? Do they follow the conversations in their own blog's comments?

If they don't, go find someone who does! Pull the rug out from under them.


  1. 1

    I wish I could say I agree with your posts, and I’m sure what you say rings true to a lot of social media users and bloggers but I consider myself a junior in the blogging world and I have had nothing but good experiences reaching out to some of the seniors.

    I have gotten replies from some of the big guys like Chris Brogan, Jason Falls, Scott Stratten, Dave Kerpen etc. I’ve also written about Dave Kerpen and his books a couple of times and he shared my posts on his social networks.

    From experience I’ve found that a lot of the big guys in social media do practice what they preach, which is likely why they’re so successful.

  2. 4

    Douglas, Yikes! I hope I’m not in the “bad senior” category. I like to think I do reach out, do respond, and do engage. Are there people who I may have slighted along the way? Of course. There are times when I don’t (or can’t) engage. Last week for example I was in remote Peru and Bolivia and had very limited access to the Web (only about an hour a day). Yesterday I was on a plane for 10 hours. Sometimes after a speech I’ll get 200 or 300 tweets and 50 Facebook friend requests. I’m not making excuses, just stating reality. However, most of the time, I try to be approachable.

  3. 5

    @douglaskarr:disqus @google-4e3cce4e05af3f9a841d921fe02f1ea7:disqus @mattsouthern:disqus Good observation. I definitely see some of the seniors forming “exclusive clubs” that reach out to the newbie with the motive not being true connection, but rather hoping to rope them in to a “free” webinar that then becomes a sales pitch. The thing is, just like those on the senior rug, they will soon need to move on and evolve, or they themselves will become the loser that is stuck repeating the 12th grade.

    • 6

      Love the comment on “repeating 12th grade”! There’s also the analogy of those people from high school who are still living at home, pumping gas, and reflecting on their days of being a football star as the best it will ever be for them.

  4. 7

    Is this so surprising. The management consultancies have been preaching the power of transformation, but are the most resistant to change. FACT: they are still implementing SAP the way they were 20 years ago. So, the “social media gurus” are simply consultants. And remember, a consultant is a guy who knows a 1,000 ways to make love, but doesn’t have a girlfriend. (disclosure: I was a Partner with one of the Big4)

    • 8

      In my case at least, I am not a consultant. I write books, give speeches, run masterclasses, do some coaching, and sit on advisory boards. However, for the past 6 years I have not done any consulting.

  5. 9

    I’ve had similar thoughts, written it before .. still a ‘mileage may vary’ situation. Like Matt I’ve seen and experienced the ‘elite’ walking their talk and like you seen them.. not so much. I’ve watched a few break into their ranks so to speak, yet see others left out. Thinking on those who keep the cycle going.. we can see if our consultants don’t practice what they preach, if we buy the books, attend the lectures, pay the hefty consulting fees, click the buttons and badges and keep playing that game. So I’m not sure if it’s them failing us.. buyer beware right?

    Right now my focus is me. I’m trying not to worry so much about others, things I can’t control. I’m gonna keep doing my thing, work hard at doing more, doing better for me, my clients, my biz. FWIW.

  6. 10

    @douglas, probably what you are saying is correct, probably it happened to you, probably “seniors” are reaching a stage to reply only to conversations that are held wih the big boys as they add value… but the foundation of what yoy are stating sounds a bit wrong. Reaching the upper level at social media does NOT oblige you to respond to every single post or comment, or to posts that might not add value. In the end, that is why they are here (adding spices to the conversation). And to some such as @David Meerman, it us impossible to do so (unless he hires an assistant).

    • 11

      I’ve explored the idea of having an assistant. But I have concluded there is no possible way I will ever have someone else participate on social using my name. No way. If it has my name on it, I wrote it. I’ve told people like Guy Kawasaki that I love what they do but disagree with automatic posting and posting by assistants.

  7. 12

    First, I acknowledge and emphasize the exponential growth in Social Media and its attendant “Follower-ship”. Second, some people chose not to consciously clog bandwidth, posts, and in-boxes by needlessly acknowledging comments and “Retweets”. Finally, this is life. You DO NOT get a medal simply for showing-up. True engagement begs response; “Ditto-heads” don’t.

  8. 13

    Douglas Marjorie Clayman just wrote about this in a different manner- same vein. I have been on receiving end of this four years ago and was as shocked then and now. Their actions were so out of alignment with what they said, I learned quickly who was full of ^*(.

    It is frustrating when you see such behavior and then I just said whateva, kept my focus on what I was growing for my business. On another side of this mess, I know each step of the way, by delivering value to listeners each week – every listener we have for #BBSradio came from walking my talk and not because an A-lister pumped me up to their “audience.”

    I could bust a few by sharing how they talked to me behind the scenes. I learned quickly, they worry about their status when someone comes along who is as smart as they are and it is a darn shame. I prefer to promote those around me and know that we can all grow. It does not take from one another if one of us has a success, instead it magnifies success for us all.

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