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.