When I got around to starting the newsletter this month, I was dismayed to see the theme of “Social Media Stand Outs.” I am not a social media guru, and I didn’t see any social media articles in the basket ready to go. I moaned and groaned and then my husband said “Isabella Gucci Jones,” and I cheered up and decided I could write an article on standing out in the social media scene, even if I’m not great at it myself. I know people who are great at social media, and I know how to research and analyze. (That’s what I’m good at: researching and analyzing.)

Let’s start with something basic.

How do you tell if someone stands out in social media or not? Who will be the basis for this research?

The easiest way to determine if someone is a social media stand out would be to look at their Klout scores, I suppose. However, for a ton of reasons, I don’t particularly like Klout, so I’m going to do this from scratch.

According to Pew Internet, as of May 16, 2012, the average Facebook user had 229 friends, with the younger the person being, the more friends they have. I’m in Gen X. We average 198 friends.  According to my stats I have 266 friends right now, despite regular cullings, so I’m ahead of my age group. However, I’m not a social media stand out. For the sake of this article, I arbitrarily declare that you must have at least 1,000 friends for me to look at what you do.

Now, I don’t think the sheer number of friends you have is the best indicator of social media stand out-ism, but it’s probably good enough for the purposes of this article.

Who has more than quintuple the average Facebook friends? Well, Isabella Gucci Jones does. And so does John Scalzi, along with Candy Beauchamp, Lanel Taylor, Marta Costa, Sharon Hunt Broughton, and Pam Ivey.

Now Facebook isn’t the end-all, be-all of Internet Life. John Scalzi is a strong Internet personality and he doesn’t like Facebook much at all. He uses a good, old-fashioned blog that got 5 million hits last year.

Felicia Day and Robert Scoble are in the top twenty Google+ users, so I’ll throw them into the mix too.

So, for my research, here’s what I’m going to look at:

  • Isabella Gucci Jones on Facebook
  • John Scalzi on Whatever.Scalzi.com
  • Candy Beauchamp
  • Lanel Taylor on Facebook
  • Felicia Day on Google+
  • Robert Scoble on Google+

(If you don’t like my choices, do your own research and write your own article next month!)

What do these social media stand outs do?

  • They all have strong brand identities that are not directly related to anything they sell. Isabella Gucci Jones is in fact a character, and the person who plays her always stays in character.
  • It’s rarely about self-promotion. John Scalzi rarely directly promotes his books on his site. Isabella Gucci Jones has less than 1 of 7 posts being about anything she’s selling or a charity she’s promoting. (The 1 in 7 number came from me examining her page and making tally marks.)
  • They give back to the community. Candy Beauchamp provides honest reviews that people appreciate. John Scalzi lets other authors promote their books on his 8-million views a year website.
  • Their regular posts provide a service or value. Isabella Gucci Jones provides entertaining and whimsical posts that ferret people love. Scalzi gives well thought out opinions on controversies in life. Candy Beauchamp gives honest reviews. This is why these people have followers that stay.
  • They are all active and post regularly. And by regularly, I mean daily. In fact, if Scalzi gets mail asking if he’s healthy and alive if he misses a day.
  • They don’t just use text. All of these people have completely text updates and posts, but they also post a lot of pictures and videos.

My take on this

My take on this is that if you want to excel and stand out in social media, make your interactions with the virtual world be about helping the virtual community. Don’t make your interactions about you.

If you want more detail on how I came to those conclusions, here’s more detail.

Isabella Gucci Jones

Isabella Gucci Jones is a ferret. Actually, she’s a dead ferret. She’s a dead ferret with about 4,000 friends on Facebook. But, more importantly, she’s a character April made up. She’s created this ferret persona that’s cute, childish, whimsical, and loves pink and pink flamingos.

If you check Isabella’s wall, you’ll quickly notice that more people post to her wall than Isabella does. People, at least ferret lovers, adore the Isabella character.

What does April do for the Isabella character?

  • Isabella is an extremely strong brand identity. This character follows April from job to job, but is April’s invention and not an employer’s. April uses the character to promote causes she’s interested in (like Black Footed Ferrets) and now her own store.
  • April posts cute, whimsical updates that are all in character with the ferret persona. Each update is either funny or engaging, thus making people laugh, or serious pointing out something relevant to the ferret world.
  • Only 1 of 7 of April’s posts ever promotes her store or her charities.
  • April regularly posts, to the tune of several times a day.

John Scalzi

John Scalzi is a science fiction author. (He’s one of my top five living authors, actually.) His blog hit 8 million views last years and he has incredibly active comment threads. His posts are whatever he feels writing about, but rarely just promote his books. In fact, he lets other authors promote their books on his site with a tagline of “The Big Idea.” Scalzi takes positions that could be considered controversial, and these articles are frequently picked up by the bigger blogs and news organizations.

What does Scalzi do?

  • He has a great product (his books), but he assumes people know about those if they have found his blog. He doesn’t do much promotion of his books on his site. His self-book promotion is way below the 1 to 7 ratio Isabella Gucci Jones has.
  • He gives back to the community with his Big Idea guest posts.
  • He posts regularly. In fact, if he goes a day without posting, he starts receiving emails asking if he’s okay.
  • He has guests cover for him, and post, when he’s on vacation.
  • He uses his Internet cred to help his friends and charitable organizations along with promoting values he agrees with.

Candy Beauchamp

If I didn’t “know” Candy from VALeague and IVAA, I’m pretty sure I would have come across her on the Internet anyway. Why? Candy’s an Amazon Top 100 reviewer. Think about that for a minute. Amazon is a giant company with a lot of customers. I’ve written reviews on Amazon.  In fact, I probably write reviews for at least a third of the stuff I acquire via Amazon. But I’m on the bottom of the list as far as Amazon reviews go.

What’s the difference?

Firstly, Candy reviews everything. She has a lot of review content out there.

Secondly, she’s been reviewing everything for a while. I’ve written 55 amazon reviews. Candy’s done 717. What’s more, 86% of the people who’ve bothered to hit an up thumb or down thumb on her reviews have hit the up thumb. So, people consider her reviews worthwhile. Candy’s reviews are a good product.

What else?

Candy is not limited to Facebook and Amazon. She tries out every social media thing out there.

Felicia Day

Felicia Day is an actress, but also a producer for YouTube videos. She’s very big in the indie movement of film production. Her audience is not mainstream. She’s noted for being the girlfriend in “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along,” and popping up in shows like Eureka and Supernatural. She also has several of her own shows.

What does she do on social media?

  • She talks about games she’s played that aren’t hers.
  • She posts links and starts conversations that have nothing to do with her and her video making.
  • She does post her videos (which for her audience, are not really considered self-promoting, even though they are).
  • Forbes actually did an article on her.
  • I know she twitters a lot too, but I don’t twitter so I didn’t research that.