How to Make Your Own Road on Social Media “Back to the Future” Style

“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”


So says Doc Brown to Marty McFly in Back to the Future just as the Delorean turned time machine converts into a flying car. Not only is this line from one of my favorite movies ever, it also offers a nice soundbite for us social media enthusiasts to use as a motto. While it is important to select and follow in the footsteps of a select few social media mentors, one of the most important things you can do is carve out your own niche in this business.

That’s how you stand out. And that’s how you build a reputation as a leader. Not convinced? Try on some of these stats for size:

That’s a lot of people in the social space every single day. A lot of companies know this. Hell, a lot of people know this. Which means there’s a whole lot of people out there doing the exact same things on social media day in and day out. And you know what? I’m tired of it! It’s Boring with a capital B!

So, I say throw caution to the wind and say “screw you” to roads and set out on your own journey in the wilderness of the social landscape.

Now, you don’t need to build a time machine or somehow figure out how to set a Delorean to the sky but you do need to be willing to carve out your own path. Here’s how:

Find Your Flux Capacitor

When Doc Brown hit his head on that bathroom cabinet, he saw the flux capacitor in his mind (it’s what makes time travel possible!) and set out on a course that would rewrite history–albeit unintentionally. Still, this kind of “a-ha” moment is important for establishing yourself online. It’s also important to make sure you have enough power behind that idea to get it off the ground (or back in time).

The key is to figure out what is unique about you. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to get closer to that elusive 1.21 gigawatt idea:

  • What do you have to offer that nobody else has?
  • What obstacles have you overcome to get to where you are?
  • What are you most excited about?
  • What aspect of your business do you obsess over the most?

Don’t Be Afraid to Buy Plutonium from Libyan Nationalists

Plutonium_boxOr, you know, don’t be afraid to take risks. You shouldn’t buy plutonium *waves to Homeland Security* No seriously, that’s not a good idea.

In any case, being a risk-taker is an inherent part of being successful. You know that phrase “nothing ventured, nothing gained”? Yeah, that totally applies here. And if you want to set out on a path that is 100% yours, then you need to do the legwork.

Don’t just share a link to your blog on social media and call it a day. Be original. Offer advice. Give tips. Interact. Basically, be a human. You’d be surprised by how out of the norm this is. Though I suppose if you’ve spent much of any time on social media these days, you wouldn’t be. It’s link after link after link. They all start to blend together after a while. So take a risk. Don’t be afraid to stand out. And unlike in Back to the Future with Doc Brown’s whole plutonium ordeal, an armed squad of Libyan nationalists won’t try to kill you in a JC Penney’s parking lot if you do.

Don’t Be a Biff

Back to the Future (1985)“McFly? Anybody home, McFly?” Ah, Biff. He was a real jackass, am I right? And while he (along with his ancestors and offspring) spent much of the BTF series antagonizing the McFly family, he got his comeuppance in the end. And that’s why it never pays to be a bully.

In the social media world, what do bullies do? Well, they make everything about themselves. They brag, gloat, and go me, me, me until they’re blue in the face. This kind of behavior isn’t only obnoxious, it also does nothing to show that you’re unique. Because honestly, taking a quick glance at my Twitter feed right now shows that the majority of folks claiming they know a thing or two about social media are Biffs (or Biffs-in-training).

All the more reason to spread the love on social media, right? Share other people’s content. Engage in conversations with people. Participate in chats. Agree to guest post on other people’s blogs. You know, generally add something to the community in which you work rather than just trying to get an immediate personal gain all the time.

You Don’t Have to be Calvin Klein

6320112_stdOkay, so in Back to the Future, Marty meets his mother in the 1950s after he’s hit by a car–a car that was supposed to hit Marty’s dad George. It’s how the two met, went to prom, kissed, and got married. It’s also how Marty comes to be so setting his accidental intrusion into his own timeline back on the right course is imperative.

To make a long story short, Marty is nursed back to health by his mother, who thinks his name is Calvin Klein because that’s what it says on his underwear. And Marty goes along with it because well, he can’t reveal who he really is because that would be bad news for his very existence!

In the context of real life and social media, you don’t have to pretend to be something you’re not. Sure, it might be cool to act like a guru but if you don’t feel that role in your bones, it’s best not to pretend. It’s also best not to feign sincerity, either. Nothing’s a bigger turn-off than that, believe me.

Be yourself on social media. Be an authority on what you know. Do that enough and you’re certain to set out on a course back to the future…er….to success!

Now please excuse me as I rock out to some Huey Lewis and the News.

Image sources: Futurepedia

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Brenda Stokes Barron is a freelance writer and blogger for hire. When she's not hunched over her laptop, she's spending time with her husband, daughter, and two crazy cats. Keep up with her antics (which often include trips to Starbucks) on Google +.