Out of One, Many

Cristiano Ronaldo has the most followed account on Instagram. 400 million people want to see his pictures. That’s 40 times the population of the country in which he was born. He also has 100 million Twitter followers, 128 million on Facebook, and on and on.

How did he do it? Is Cristiano a social media expert? No. In fact, he was late to the party: He joined Instagram in 2012, two years after the platform was launched. By that time, it already had 50 million accounts vying for our attention. Not exactly a head start.

Cristiano Ronaldo plays soccer. That’s it. It is his job, his calling, and the only thing he’s an expert in. Arguably, he’s the best in the world at it, and soccer happens to be the most popular sport on the planet. Therefore, if Cristiano shows up on Instagram, fellow lovers of the sport will follow him. Actually, they’ll follow him wherever he goes, regardless of the platform.

That’s very different from being a social media gardener, someone who carefully grooms their fledgling following on ten different platforms, probably while forgetting to practice their art over it. Even if you outsource it or do it well, it’ll only take you so far. Why? Because social media channels attention towards interesting people – and doing social media for social media’s sake alone just isn’t that interesting.

For every Gary Vaynerchuk, there are 15 people who devoted themselves to their art and earned some attention – often more than Gary – as a result. This doesn’t make Gary’s approach wrong, but it makes it wrong for most people, yet the majority of would-be influencers are social media gardeners.

When you have a calling, be thankful. It takes luck and hard work to find. Respect your calling with focus. Give it your undivided attention, and you may win some of ours. If you happen to earn a lot of it, you can always turn one into many – like Cristiano, who only needs one ball to unite half of Europe.