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  • How to be Popular on Social Media

    Have you ever read the book How to Be Popular by Meg Cabot? (Probably not, because it’s a young adult novel written for 12-14 year-old girls, who probably don’t read this blog.) I read it this weekend as research for another project I’m working on, and was surprised by how much I enjoyed the book.

    3043265592_445b505e01Meg Cabot is a wonderful young adult novelist – if you haven’t heard of her yet, her work includes the Princess Diaries, which became a huge Disney movie series and propelled Anne Hathaway onto the celebrity A-list. What I loved about How to be Popular (besides the cute, witty story) is it gives great tips for how to be popular in real life, that I think can be applied to social media. Here are some of Meg Cabot’s tips, directly from the book:

    Popular people always have a ready smile for everyone

    Even though you can’t smile via social media, the picture you post on all your profiles is extremely important because it makes an impression on people and helps them decide if they want to pay attention to you. Choose a photo that is inviting and happy. A smile goes a long way.

    154640125_900b749340Popular people show genuine interest in others and what they have to say

    It’s simple – comment on other people’s profiles, twitters, and blogs, and they will automatically know they have a fan out there who cares about what they are trying to do with social media. Don’t be just another lurker.

    Popular people call others by their names, and do it often

    Something about writing someone’s name makes your comment to them more personal. On twitter, I love when I get a direct message with my name in it, because it shows it’s not an auto responder. But beyond just using someone’s name, make all your communications personal. It’s the best way to remind that person you know (and care) who they are.

    Popular people always make the conversation about YOU, not about themselves


    When you’re writing in your blog or on your social media profiles, don’t forget to help others instead of just talking about yourself. Advice blogs are popular because they give value to the person reading – and in return, the person writing gets a boost in popularity as their content is shared. But people don’t share self-centric content.

    Popular people are the same people in private as they are in public

    Gen Y is known for extreme transparency online, and other generations – even when they embrace social media – are wary of putting themselves completely out there. But Gen Y knows something other generations don’t – that there’s no hiding who you are anymore. If you are mean, spiteful person in real life, people online will find it out eventually. So work on being nice in your “private” (offline) life, and you will naturally become more popular online.

    Popular people do what they want to be doing in life

    The social media elite have become that way because they shunned the corporate lifestyle and defined their own paths. You can’t be popular unless you are passionate about something. So write about your passions and the crazy things you are doing in your own life, and people will be drawn to you.


    Popular people are direct and honest, while always being conscious of the feelings of others

    It is okay to disagree with others – it’s inevitable actually. But instead of passing up a blog post simply because you disagree, go ahead and (kindly) engage the writer with your opinion! You will also get comments where people disagree – sometimes rudely. But you will get respect when you stand up for yourself without rising to their provocations.

    What do you think of these tips about popularity?

    You can find out more about How to be Popular (it really is a fun read!) here.


    Monica O’Brien writes career advice for young professionals at her blog, Twenty Set. You can also follow her on Twitter (@monicaobrien).

    Monica O’Brien is an MBA candidate with years of experience in business, strategy, and technology. She currently consults start-ups in the Chicago area on establishing their social media strategies. Monica attends the Chicago Booth School of Business (at the University of Chicago), currently ranked the #1 MBA program in the country by BusinessWeek, and is one of the 2007 Chicago Business Fellows. She concentrates in Marketing, Strategy, and Entrepreneurship. Monica holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, with a minor in Physics, from Truman State University. Her blog, Twenty Set, gives career advice to young professionals. Monica writes candidly about her own experiences. She has also written for Mashable and ProBlogger, and has been featured in major publications like the Christian Science Monitor.

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