Monday, February 09, 2009

My biggest social media mistakes

I hear it all the time from people that are new to blogging and social media. "I don't feel like I should be blogging or on Twitter. All these other people know everything, what can I tell them?"

Here's a secret when it comes to social media; no one knows everything, and everyone makes mistakes. I've made more than my fair share, in fact here's some of my biggest ones:

1 - It took me WAAAY too long to 'get' Twitter. Look at the above graph. That shows how many tweets I have left each month since I joined Twitter in March of 2007. Notice that I only left a handful of tweets every month up till December of 2007. Till then, most of my time on Twitter was spent tweeting links to my new blog posts. That's right, I was a broadcaster. Thankfully, I finally 'got' Twitter, but it damned sure took me long enough.

2 - It took me over a year to post my pic on this blog. Remember this classic? The reason why I never added my pic was because I didn't think it mattered. It does. People will connect easier with your real face than they will a plastic Fonzie.

3 - A couple of years ago something funny happened one day here. An 'A-Lister' linked to one of my blog posts, and then another did, and before I knew it my post was on the top of the front page of Tech Meme. And in 2006, this was a really big deal. And I saw my traffic jump up, and loved it. But here's where I made my mistake, I started changing the topics I wrote about, to try to get on Tech Meme again. The next day I wrote about something more tech-related, and sure enough, I got picked up by Tech Meme again. And I got a nice bump in traffic again. But I also noticed that for all this traffic I was getting, no one was commenting. I realized it was because I had all these tech readers coming to my marketing/social media blog, and leaving as soon as they got here. Traffic is fine, but relevant traffic is even better.

4 - I have the most idiotic blog URL ever. Have you ever actually looked at The Viral Garden's URL? It is You only pick a URL like that when you assume that no more than 3 people will ever read your blog. Thankfully I was wrong on my blog's readership, but my failure to plan ahead in choosing my blog's URL is pretty apparent.

5 - I didn't start blogging until 2005. And the reason why? Because I felt like I didn't have anything to say. What would I blog about? Who would care to read what I had to say? I assumed no one would, and that's why I waited until 2005 to start blogging. Sound familiar?

My point in writing this post is to show you that we all make mistakes when it comes to social media. And more often than not, the people that are viewed as being the 'experts' or 'gurus' in this space are the ones that have made the MOST mistakes.

So don't buy into this 'I don't have anything to say/tweet/post about' nonsense. Get out there and make your mistakes, because that's the best way to learn. And besides, one of those 'social media experts' has probably already made all the same mistakes you will.

What mistakes have you made? Share them in comments!


josh said...


I was always curious about the back story on the URL of your blog. Thanks for sharing!


Mack Collier said...

The backstory is I am a dumbass. Sorry to disappoint ;)

Anonymous said...


This is a great post for people new to the social media world. Sometimes when you view someone as an expert, it's great to see how they started and learn some background about them. It shows that they didn't just roll out of bed and know a ton about social media. They were once beginners too.

I love sports, so here's a sports quote that fits well with this post.

"I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot... and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that's precisely why I succeed."
-Michael Jordan


Anonymous said...

2610 tweets in a Month? Talk about hardcore! :D

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

great post, very encourgaing for those of us new to the social media scene. I often feel I have nothing to say, or rather, nothing anyone would care about, and often it's the articles I think people will gloss over that interest people the most. Thank you!

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing this post and reminding us that we are only seeing the RESULTS of the hard work and mistakes.
Anna Young

Anonymous said...

Hi Mack,
Find one of us learners who's never stepped wrong and you'll find someone who's probably not learning a whole lot along the way. I've learned so much in some huge mistakes and doing it long -- Can I get a dumbass seat next to you?

Unknown said...

I wish I would never have chosen a Twitter handle like hksully. No one knows my first name. Although a lot more people call me Sully now.

Anonymous said...

Now if we could just get you off Blogger and onto something professionals use. :-) J/K.

I have wondered why you've not mapped your domain name,, to the blog and use 301 redirects so as to not lose google juice. Just get rid of "moblogsmoproblems" once and for all.

Better yet, map to the new domain AND move to WordPress! Kill two birds as they say.

David D. "Griff" Griffith said...


Inspirational. The challenge is not in the doing, it is in the getting off the fence. Thanks. I have been a fence sitter far too long. What a dumbass! :D


Unknown said...

I was afraid to engage people on Twitter at first. While I maintain that listening is a great way to start there (and on other SM), it's the interaction that makes it valuable to me.

Also, I wish I'd never created such a large Twitter handle. Talk about a nightmare for people re-tweeting!


I Can't Keep Up said...

Great post Mack! I too felt I had nothing to contribute, so didn't start blogging for a long time. Once I started reading posts on other blogs, then I felt like I could contribute and become part of a larger conversation.

My biggest mistake is that I have not blogged in a long time because of technical problems with my site. My work has kept me so busy that I haven't tackled the problem to switch to another application! While my business is doing great, I have become isolated from the discussions that I was once part of.

The solution is that I am going to have to pay someone to do it so I can at least start blogging again :-)

Anonymous said...

Great to see all the mistakes! We appreciate you flattening out the learning curve (of course, flat is relative - if we don't know how steep the curve is to start, we don't really have a point of reference, do we?)


Anonymous said...

Mack, thanks for the post. I am planning on writing my own mistakes on my blog.

As far as your URL is concerned, you can always buy your own domain name and self-host :)

You might temporarily lose your authority (although there are apparently ways to move your old back-links onto your new URL...) but I am sure you would get back to the top pretty quickly!

Mack Collier said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. As for my blog's URL, I am planning on moving it to (it redirects here from there now) and probably switching to WordPress. I love how Amber Naslund's blog looks now on WordPress, and need more functionality. Work and everything has been so crazy and will be for the next few months that it's been put on the backburner. That's probably going to be my 'summer' project!

Amy said...

Thank you for this post. I really learned a lot. I am working on "getting" Twitter.

I do have to say that I have never linked to a post of my own.

It just seems hard to know how to tweet to those who already have their "groups."

I will be bookmarking this post. Thanks again!

blair said...

Oh Mack, don't be so hard on yourself - I kind of love your blog URL.

Great post!

Anonymous said...

Mack thanks for inspiring the same post over at my blog-The context is that we will fail more than we will succeed-but it's important to note that success is not final and failure is not fatal..

Mack Collier said...

Here's Marc's post, good stuff!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing Mack, especially the story about your URL =) I wrote some of my mistakes on blog ( The biggest? Not writing what I truly what I wanted and trying to write what I thought others would want to read. That has made a huge difference for me!

Anonymous said...

Mack, thanks for sharing your's a really helpful post for people who are just starting out.

Like Liz said if we aren't making them we're probably not learning. My first blog (2006) was done under a nom de plume because I really didn't think people would care what I had to say. It was just an outlet to get some thoughts out and to talk about what I liked. I don't regret it, but sometimes I wonder if I should have been more public. Ah, well...

Anonymous said...

Mack, thanks a lot for sharing your mistakes, as they are a comfort to those who've also made them, AND for those who have no idea that those ARE mistakes they're learning from yours. Nice of you to put yourself out there like that. Your posts are good reading, and I appreciate them. I'm not the only one that's glad you're here!

Anonymous said...

Hey Mack. Great post/motivator. I can so relate. Your points hit home so much w/ me...esp. tweeting latest blogposts (though i think it has tons of merit but can't be the only thing you ever tweet anymore than a relationship can be built exclusively in one party always expecting to be heard with zero desire to listen or inquire on your day). I appreciate too the plug for your photo.I too need to get a plugin for this beyond the thumbnail of my friend feed. The plastic fonzie image made me chuckle. Thanks for a thoughtful honest 'hey we're all human' kinda post. Lookin' fwd to readin more.

Anonymous said...

This is such a fantastic post. I can't event count the number of things I've screwed up along the social media path, even going back to the early days. Screwing up and learning is the very best way to not only improve yourself, but to help others. No one gets it perfect out of the gate, and those new to this area need to know that there's not only room for them when they've got it right, but while they're learning, too.

We're all always learning. It's just about different stuff.

Thanks for putting this out there! :)


Anonymous said...


Thank you for the post. It encourages me to move from toe dipping to wading (and maybe even diving in.)

I love wordpress. It has lots of functionality and great support. Even when you crash your blog trying new things...


Anonymous said...

this article motivation me. great post

Chris Houchens said...

Much like you, my mistake was staking my claim on Blogger early on. The longer you stay, the harder is is to move. I finally made the move away from blogspot and self hosting with wordpress earlier this month. There is a scary quiet lull when you do it. But then things start getting better.

Anonymous said...

Social Media is now the most influential area in today's market. This post is nice and informative.