I am a Social Media Rockstar

by Mack Collier

It’s a label that’s like nails on a chalkboard to many people, but one we can’t seem to escape.

The ‘Social Media Rockstar’.

Who is this person?  How do we determine who a ‘rockstar’ is in this space?

Unfortunately, we too often give this label to people that really don’t deserve it.  Too many people look at things like the number of Twitter followers, or Facebook fans, and deem the people that have high numbers to be the ‘rockstars’.  Sometimes these people are indeed among the smartest in this space, but other times, they are simply people that have learned to ‘game’ the system better than the rest of us.

So how do we identify the real ‘leaders’ in this space?  Who are the real rockstars?  Even that is open to intense debate, but if we could talk to the true social media rockstar, here is what I think they would say:

1 – I am human.  I don’t automate my communications, I relate to people as other people.  I value each and every interaction, and understand that the more interactions I have, the smarter I become.

2 – I am humble.  One time I had a person that IS considered a rockstar in this space confide to me that “I seriously hate it when people call me a ‘rockstar'”, and when I asked why, they said “Because I am afraid that someone will believe them.”

3 – I think indirectly.  The people that TRULY excel in leveraging social media as tools to connect with other people get this.   They don’t think ‘What do I get from this?’, they think “What value will my actions create for others?”  This is one of the most misunderstood elements of social media in the business context.  You can’t monetize your social media efforts until you first create value for the people you are trying to reach.

4 – I am a people person.  I love connecting with people, and always have, no matter why tools I use.  I am social with or without the use of social tools.

5 – I find and surround myself with people that are smarter than I am.  This ties back to being humble, but I understand that I can learn something from almost everyone.  And I assume that everyone can teach me something.  The end result is that I am smarter, and can create more value for my network.

6 – I am actually social.  I really use Twitter to talk to people.  I actually reply to readers that comment on my blog.  I make the time to stay connected, even when I don’t have it.

7 – I know I am not a rockstar.  Seriously, being a social media rockstar is about as significant as being the 3rd best hockey player in Ecuador.

What other traits do the real social media rockstars have?

Shannon Renee February 2, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Recognizing your humanity makes you the brightest of rock STARS.
.-= Shannon Renee´s last blog ..Room service is one of the world’s greatest inspirations =-.

rockindokken February 2, 2010 at 8:46 pm

I too am a rockstar. If that means rocking the postive energy and harnessing the power of the universe.

peace out
.-= rockindokken´s last blog ..JD Salinger and Zen =-.

Rob McGuire February 2, 2010 at 8:46 pm

I loved your last line about “being the 3rd best hockey player in Ecuador”. It is so true. Proclaiming yourself to be a social media expert is often times equivalent to claiming to be an email expert.
.-= Rob McGuire´s last blog ..Clean Your Wordpress Sidebar To Improve Navigation And SEO =-.

Mack Collier February 2, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Last year I was at SXSW, and if you’ve never been, every bar and restaurant in downtown during the event will be flooded with attendees. I was in one of the bars and started talking to one of the girls that worked there.

“I bet you guys hate to see SXSW starting don’t you?” And she sheepishly smiled and said “Oh no…we love to see you guys!”

We started chatting and finally she said “So what IS the deal with Interactive?” And I said “Have you ever heard of the term ‘micro-celebrity’? It’s where a person can be really well known in one very small group/cluster, but the larger population at large has no idea who they are.”

I mentioned several of the supposed ‘rockstars’ of our space to her by name to see if she had ever heard of them, and got a series of blank stares for my trouble.

Like being a great hockey player in Ecuador 😉

Matt Burgess February 2, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Somewhere out there, the 3rd best hockey player in Ecuador just died a little inside…
.-= Matt Burgess´s last blog ..Dear Twitter: Cut it out. =-.

Mack Collier February 2, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Ok I really did LOL when I read this, thanks Matt 😉

Rick Butts February 2, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Nicely done.

Frankly for me the “rockstar” term is annoying and conjures up visions of cowbirds like the guy in Rock of Love (and why any woman would want to date this idiot is a mystery to me – but I digress) as a person who is all show and no go – big hat – no cattle.

I was a working musician in a touring rock band and so perhaps for me it is just a personal thing but I suspect others are turned off by it.

The words people choose to use to represent themselves in the social media space still mean something – in that rapid glace half-second in which we sum up someone in that first fast impression.

My vote is to avoid exhausted words like rockstar, diva, guru, queen, as they demonstrate a total laziness in thinking.

I just saw a guy named @nostradomainus – he only had 40 followers but his pure brilliance at combining Nostradamus and Domains (and he used a medieval photo) was so clever I just had to follow him. Domain Queen would not have gotten the same response from me.

.-= Rick Butts´s last blog ..Midnite at Pete’s Cafe on Colfax =-.

Verilliance February 2, 2010 at 8:54 pm


What timing. I had this link open in a browser window all day because it was bugging me and I wanted to come back to it. http://www.miamiherald.com/business/5min/story/1457945.html

The two “criteria” that were sticking in my side were “sense of energy” and the bit about “5,000 followers”. Most especially that bit about number of followers. As we all know, there are plenty of people out there who can drum up a large number of followers; people who can brand themselves – but does that really mean they can translate that into a winning strategy for a company/personality? Not necessarily.

My favorite of yours above is #2. :)

Mack Collier February 2, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Thanks for the link, I hadn’t seen that article.

I understand what you mean about the 5,000 followers as being a ‘sign’ that someone knows how to engage people via social media. But she also said that comments on a blog post suggest this as well. So it’s a sign that companies are at least starting to THINK about what it means to engage people via social media.

So i can cut them some slack, but you are right, anyone can have 5,000 followers on Twitter, just follow 10,000 people first 😉

Sharon Mostyn February 2, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Wonderful qualifications and I agree with every one! I believe “thinking indirectly” is one of the hardest things to explain to people and companies who don’t participate in social media.

If I had to add a social media rockstar trait, I think it would be the ability to respectfully agree to disagree with someone and politely justify/explain the reasoning behind why you disagree with them.
.-= Sharon Mostyn´s last blog ..Top 12 Twitter Chats by Day – What are your Favorites? =-.

Mack Collier February 2, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Yes ‘thinking indirectly’ is really tough for companies especially to wrap their minds around. Seems completely counter intuitive, but after they’ve made some mistakes, the smart ones figure it out.

Desiree Scales February 2, 2010 at 9:04 pm

I’m a little bit country, you’re a little bit rock n’ roll. Glad you were inspired to write this. You “get it.” Bravo and well done. Now, where’s that guitar again?

Tami Siewruk February 2, 2010 at 9:11 pm

The chorus of Eminem’s “You’re a RockStar” song say’s it the best
When you walked through the door
It was clear to me (clear to me)
You’re the one they adore, who they came to see (who they came to see)
You’re a … rock star (baby)
Everybody wants you (everybody wants you)
Player… Who could really blame you (who could really blame you)
We’re the ones who made you.

Mack , “Slang” definition of a rock star is “skilled and talented”
.-= Tami Siewruk´s last blog ..See It. Hear It. Do It. with Duncan Alney =-.

Erica February 2, 2010 at 9:21 pm

It sounds like Google’s secret recipe for determining “peoplerank” (as opposed to pagerank) for real-time social search results is only going to reinforce the quantity-as-quality rockstar rule.

Brian Solis explains in ‘The Human Algorithm’: http://www.briansolis.com/2010/02/the-human-algorithm-how-google-ranks-tweets-in-real-time-search/
.-= Erica´s last blog ..Before Tweeting got local… =-.

Z. Kelly Queijo February 3, 2010 at 8:20 am

Gee, Mack, and all this time I thought it was the hat that made you a rockstar. Don’t let the combination of “rock” with “star” give you pause. You are “rock” solid in your position on social media, it’s value in connecting people, and in its use as an extension of how you relate to people overall. In addition, you set a shining example of to use social media effectively. Your work is star-quality.

Lisa Petrilli February 3, 2010 at 8:37 am

Another great post that shows why people have so much respect for you! I’d add two traits…

1. Hard work borne of passion: The best musicians – and Rock Stars in all fields – spend an inconceivable number of hours perfecting their craft because they love what they do…and it shows

2. Relevance: Don’t the most iconic songs reach that status because they touch people deeply in some way? I think the leaders in social media have a keen sense of what’s relevant to their community and understand when, how and where their insights can be most valuable and make a significant impact.

Thanks for sharing your passion for social media with the world Mack,
.-= Lisa Petrilli´s last blog ..LisaPetrilli: How Marvel Became a Business Superhero: Intvw w/former CEO (Note the epiphany re content!): http://bit.ly/dmcGBT =-.

Tami McCarthy February 3, 2010 at 9:37 am

I like this post, Mack. It highlights the importance of keeping the social web real. I would add “I am trustworthy.” to the mix. If you start from there, you can really help companies shape their brand and their dialogue in social media channels in a way that is relevant to their business. It becomes a win-win for all involved.

Davina K. Brewer February 3, 2010 at 10:24 am

Mack, Good list. #2 and #7 dovetail perfectly. Humble means you don’t run around proclaiming yourself a rockstar, guru, maven or expert. That will take care of itself if and in the end, you know you always have more to learn.

#6 being actually social, means you walk the walk. You take the time to respond to tweets, blog comments and trackbacks. If you’re really social, you’ll make connections and commit to doing the work.

To #3, I’d add your generous: with your time, ideas; that’s add the core of adding value. And lastly, to #5 I’d add that you follow smart people and yet you stay your own person. FWIW.
.-= Davina K. Brewer´s last blog ..Your Website is Ugly and Your SEO Sucks =-.

Andi Narvaez February 3, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Aw, I’m from Ecuador :/

Haha, no hard feelings Mark. I loved the post. And since everyone has essentially said what was on my mind as well, I will only add that, even the way you’ve set up your blog speak very highly of you and others I consider thought leaders in this space.

I always notice (and very often, CLICK!) people’s latest blog post, which appear on the comments they post here. That, in and of itself is a way of acknowledging the others who are contributing to our collaborative social media education and of sharing the microphone / stage.

Again, thanks for the post. You really do rock.

– Andi
.-= Andi Narvaez´s last blog ..Public Relations Publics: Problem or Solution? =-.

Andi Narvaez February 3, 2010 at 10:10 pm

And by Mark I meant Mack :)
.-= Andi Narvaez´s last blog ..Public Relations Publics: Problem or Solution? =-.

Tim Patterson February 3, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Well, damn, that’s a great post. Short, to the point and heart felt. Measurements are great, but they are a small piece of what people really get from you. The answer is not how much you made or how big you think you got – it’s how you made people FEEL.
.-= Tim Patterson´s last blog ..Upcoming Webinar: “How to Close More Biz at Tradeshows Using Social Media” =-.

Previous post:

Next post: