March 27, 2012

Is the Social Butterfly Digital or Real?

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Written by: Ross Quintana
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There are things in this world that are known for their beauty and one of the iconic items of beauty is the butterfly.

In the online world the social butterfly caries equal adoration. Everyone wants to have thousands or tens of thousands of followers. Shower me in your likes, +1 me into triple and quadruple digits. Let your praise and acceptance reach out to me like the golden sunlight when I emerge from my cocoon. The social butterfly is the thing of beauty in a digital world, but is that thing of beauty real?

Automation and tools pop up daily claiming to bring you followers with no effort, but part of social media is being well… social. Part of the beauty of a butterfly is based on the fact that the beautiful patterns and colors are real and come from nature. The same holds true in the world of social media. It isn’t that you have 20,000 followers on Twitter, but that you have 20,000 followers and yet you replied to my mention of you and said hi or thanks. Everyone wants to touch the butterfly and engage with something so beautiful. If none of your followers can connect with you, it robs them of their personal experience with the thing they are trying to admire. This disconnection between people and their followers is what creates the digital butterfly. Someone with 20,000 followers on Twitter who only talks at you is not nearly as valuable as the person who has 800 but you can touch them and know they are real.

I see them all over the social platforms, the digital butterflies. I retweet them and they ┬ánever say thank you, I try and touch them and they are not real. In wrapping themselves in followers they create a cocoon of solitude that doesn’t give people a chance to see how beautiful they are. I have seen this happen when people get to many followers, I have felt this from people I have retweeted 20 times and I never knew if there were real or a digital butterfly. I hope that in your striving to get followers, likes, and subscribers that you remember to be real. The most valuable tool in social media is being social. It’s taking the time to thank people and taking the time to learn their real name. When you connect and share with others on a personal level you come out of your digital cocoon of just a profile picture and become someone real.

A rushed reply, a thoughtless silence, all just zeros and ones in a cold online interface. Don’t spread your wings wider than you can fly, and don’t build your network larger than you can be real with. You have to be more accessible the larger your network otherwise you become just another digital social butterfly.


About the Author

Ross Quintana
Founder of SocialMagnets, I am passionate about social media, influence, innovation, strategy, and marketing. I love to help people learn and understand the digital world. I stretch people's thinking and share my analysis of information, tools, and strategies in social media. Let's connect


by Ross Quintana

by Ross Quintana


by Ross Quintana



  1. Great analogy Ross! Sometimes it can be rude if it’s done several times. I then stop following. If it’s a one time occurrence it could be an oversight (We’re all human)

    It’s called social media for a reason – to be social. I would rather have a smaller amount of followers than a large amount that never socialized. Same holds true on Facebook – so many people are your friend but do they ever respond to a post? A small percentage only do there. I read somewhere about the actual percentage and it was small. The rest like to be bystanders.

    • Ross Quintana

      Yes, I curate content so I am always looking for good posts that may be of value to people. I share a lot of information and some people I have shared for quite a while and not even a hey or hello. I have others who have said, “You made my day with the mention. Thanks a million” @innovatethis2 the first time I shared one of their posts. I can share and promote whatever and whoever I want and in the social media world being nice and real will get you further.

  2. Good morning, Ross,

    Thrilled that I found your inspiring article. What a great way to start off my morning with a little self-examination of how “real” am I. You are a compelling writer and your sincerity is truly appreciated.


    • Ross Quintana

      Thank you for your kind words. I try an write things of value and share things of value as well from others. I have shared your content as well and appreciate our relationship.

  3. Well written, sir. Well written.

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