Social Media Dads, Social Media Moms

Guest Post by Social Media Dad, Darren Rowse from ProBlogger

34 Comments 23 April 2008

This guest post comes from Darren Rowse. Darren is the blogger behind ProBlogger and a co-author of the soon to be released ProBlogger Book - a book about how bloggers can improve their blogs and make a living from the medium. Darren is the fourth in my series featuring the Top Social Media Dads.

4 Tips for Social Media Toddlers

My son is fast approaching the age of 2 (he’ll reach that milestone at the start of July) and watching him grow and develop is one of the most wonderful experiences that I’ve ever had.

It’s a period of life where there are such remarkable changes occurring on a daily basis. In the last year he’s:

learned to take his first steps and then progress to running

discovered an ability to communicate, first through gestures and sounds and then through forming those sounds into single words and more recently discovering that it’s more effective to put two or more words together

-discovered how to get his way to make others laugh (and get angry)

-started comprehending how to follow rules

-learned how to feed himself (well partly - it’s still messy)

-to make messes (and when he’s in the mood to clean them up)

The list grows every day. It’s very exciting to watch - although there are ‘those days’ where everything he tries seems to lead to tears and frustration.

So what’s this got to do with social media?

Social media feels like it’s been around for ever - but the realization that I had this week was that many of us are still learning to use it.

For me the journey started juts five years ago with my first blog. I added to my online presence in more recent times by starting to use Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon and many other ‘social media’ sites - but every day that I use them I come to the realization that most of us are like toddlers and are on a journey of discovery.

I’m a Social Media Toddler

It’s an exciting journey most days - but one that also has ‘those days’ of frustration.

So what can my little Son teach us about getting through our toddler years as social media users:

Experiment - one of the main things that my wife and I are attempting to instill in our young one is to encourage him to experiment and try new things. This happens in a number of spheres of his life including ‘new food’ (surely there’s only so many bananas and jam sandwiches someone so small can consume!), new skills, new words, new people etc.

The more experiments he does the more he learns he can do, the more discoveries he makes, the more mistakes he makes, the more experiences he has. The result of all this is growth, maturity, development and understanding.

The same is true with social media. Many bloggers that I come across tell me that social media doesn’t ‘work’. When I unpack this with them I find that most simply set up profiles on social media sites and never actually try anything on them. The more you experiment with mediums like Twitter and Facebook the more you’ll discover on what does and doesn’t ‘work’ in helping you to achieve your goals.

Develop What Works - when my son makes a new discovery in life he will become obsessed with it. If you’ve hung around with young children you know what I mean. This week his ‘thing’ is to say ‘Bye’ to things. Everytime he leaves a room he turns around to it and begins to say ‘Bye’ to everything in it that he can name. ‘Bye Light’. ‘Bye Chair’. ‘Bye Mummee’. ‘Bye Poo’ (when changing nappy), ‘Bye Wiggles’. ‘Bye Ball’. He’s obsessed with saying bye to things.

What’s he doing? He’s cementing in his mind that ability to recognize that he’s leaving something. He’s developing his vocabulary, ability to name things and he’s putting words together in ways that he’s never done before. He’s also being very cute (until you want to quickly leave a room and he insists on saying ‘bye’ to every item in it). He has made a discovery and he’s honing his skills with it and taking it to the next level.

As Social Media Toddlers we can learn a thing or two from this. Experimenting is not enough - take what you learn that ‘works’ and repeat it. If you ask a particular type of question on Twitter and get 10 times as many replies as normal, you might just be onto something. Try it again. If you use an add-on on Facebook that your friends respond to well - keep using it and finding ways to take it to the next level. If you write something on your blog and get a ton of traffic from StumbleUpon develop the idea in future posts and work out what it was about the original post that connected with people so you can draw on the lesson again.

Watch Others - alongside ‘experimenting’ on his own, I’d say that my son learns mainly through watching those around him. Sometimes I’ll be doing something (washing the dishes, working on my laptop, weeding the garden….) and he’ll have gone all quiet. At first I panic a little because he rarely goes all quiet unless he’s emptying the linen cupboard or using his crayons to redecorate his bedroom walls - but more often than not he’s gone all quiet because he’s simply sitting there watching me.

Ten minutes later I’ll find him studiously doing something that is his attempt at what I was just doing (smashing dishes in the pantry, using an old keyboard that I gave him while sitting in front of the TV or pulling out plants in the backyard). OK - so he doesn’t always get it right, but he is learning so much by watching and listening to those around him.

As Social Media Toddlers I think this is key. There are literally millions of bloggers, Twitterers, Facebook users and participants in the social media space. Many of these people are making incredible discoveries about the mediums everyday. Take time out each day to observe what they are learning and experimenting with and ask yourself how it might be applied to your own situation. While not everything that works for someone else will work for you in your situation - a lot is transferable or adaptable. Watch, learn and apply what others are doing!

Have Fun and be Free - I wish I could be 2 again somedays. My Son’s life is so simple, so innocent and so much fun. He doesn’t get bogged down on what others think about him, he enters into things with such energy and passion, he floats from one thing to another without feeling the constraints of having to do things certain ways.

So many of us as Social Media Toddlers seem to get bogged down by the way things should be done or by being concerned of how others will receive us - but perhaps we need to approach it with a little more with childlike abandonment.

You can follow Darren on Twitter here.

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Your Comments

34 Comments so far

  1. Congrats on the guest post from Darren. He’s my idol :)
    Anyhow, just dropping by to say hello to a fellow St. Louis blogger.

    Enjoy the wonderful weather.

  2. socialmediamom says:

    Hi Jami,
    Thanks for stopping by. We should try and meet for coffee sometime! :)

  3. Jan says:

    I love this post! As a former at-home-mom (my son graduates from high school in… 4 weeks and 2 days… Yikes!) I’m glad I found your blog. I got here via Darren’s blog, I’m trying to find the right subject for a blog of my own, so I’m reading and subscribing to all the blogs that I enjoy. I’ll be subscribing to this one. Thanks!

  4. This is truly a heartwarming post! I really enjoyed reading about Darren as a Dad, especially as he was able to use his experiences to provides us with more useful information about social media!

    I’m off to read those other posts in this series now :)

  5. Renae says:

    I still feel like a toddler when it comes to blogging, but these tips apply to it, as well.

    It’s nice to hear social media is rather new. I thought I was decades behind. I’ll continue watching with wonderment.

  6. Tyler says:

    Being young and innocent to the world would be a fun thing. Little ones just don’t know how well they got it until it’s too late 😉

  7. Sonia Simone says:

    I love this post, so sweet! And it’s great to get back to that “beginner’s mind” and try to view the world with fresh eyes again. Very nice, thank you.

  8. socialmediamom says:

    Sonia, Renae, Jan & Amanda ~
    You are all so right! Darren has taken the heartwarming experiences of being a child and has candidly shared with us how to view social media with child-like innocence. I love his advice about approaching social media with abandonment! Only a father and social media expert would know that! :)

  9. Sandie Law says:

    Great ideas here, Darren. Thanks for the guest post and thank you socialmediamom for having him on.

  10. Linda Locke says:

    Darren, your post is a inspiring reminder about how seeing things through the eyes of a child can encourage you to experiment and not be afraid to try new things like social media.


  11. Simple Mom says:

    I love this post. I’m a HUGE Darren fan, so it’s fun to see the dad side of him. And I’m glad to know about this blog! I had not heard of it, so I’ll be bookmarking it to see what you’re all about.

  12. John says:

    Excellent post, really enjoyed reading that! :)
    Some great comparisons drawn

  13. socialmediamom says:

    Simple Mom & Sandra~ I agree. I have loved hosting this series and seeing a completely different side of these men. They really are quite vulnerable all the while being experts in their fields. It is very refreshing.
    Thanks for visiting! :)

  14. SilentJay74 says:

    This was a very good post, I love the way he uses toddler behavior and applies it to rules regarding Social Media. I do think that it is more of a ” toddler rules to drive traffic.” But that is just my opinion, and I really do not have a problem with that at all. I know a lot of great people who use all sorts of methods to gain traffic, Tamar Techipedia), Brian Wallace (Nowsourcing), Jason Falls (Social Media Explorer), these guys have fail proof techniques, and they continue to perfect them. These are three that I keep up with. Of course my only blog is a personal one and I have no revenue coming from it. I am what Jason Falls calls the Genuine User. I am just here for the content, that might change, but I doubt it. Great post!

  15. “without feeling the constraints of having to do things certain ways” - it is sad that inevitably this does kick in at some point and conformity takes place to a certain degree.

    Learning from this post, I can only think that my blog can benefit from me sticking to what I like and want to write about and trying to enchant my readers to follow me on this path.

  16. Rick from Milwaukee says:

    Nice post. I guess we all have to crawl before we walk.

  17. I also feel like I am still in the crawling stage. But I am starting to pull myself up to things for balance. Darren and ProBlogger is one of those things. What a great article and it works for oh so many other adventures of life.

    So thanks to Darren for writing such a great piece and thanks to SocialMediaMom for inviting him to do so.

  18. I love the way you used the analogy of toddlers and Social Media Marketers..^^

    Well, in my case..I think I should compare myself to a social media baby..^^’z definitely I’m a newbie on this one..^^

  19. socialmediamom says:

    Carol Ann ~ It was totally my pleasure to have him as it has been with all the social media dads and there will be more too. :)

  20. Todd Jordan says:

    Great share. Great ideas. And now I feel much better about experimenting and playing around. I’m trying to hone some new skills myself.

  21. Robert says:

    Darren you are so much in your element in dealing with this social media thing. This is really a great article that I hope a lot of people find useful and informative. I will share this with my friends on linkedin and my website.
    Thanks again.

  22. Amanda says:

    I don’t tire of reading Darrens tips - he’s such a pro!

  23. Katie Derman says:

    As the mom of a toddler, this was the perfect analogy for me. I am also new to blogging, and these are great tips.

  24. Kerrin says:

    Absolutely as true today as back in 2008.

    The social media scene is evolving so fast I feel we will always be toddlers so this is a good perspective to have. It’s hard to believe that we are always on the verge of the ‘next big thing’.


  25. A toddler?!?! I wish!!!! I’m still a newborn, and I’m not sure my eyes are even open yet!

  26. If Darren is a toddler I’m a newborn. But I see his point and will put it to use. Thanks!


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