Would you pucker up for a chance at social media success?
Credit: BigStockPhoto.com

I’ll be blunt with you. I can’t stand kiss-asses. I refuse to be one. I hate it when newer folks in my niches do it to me. And I’m embarrassed for colleagues who think their transparent brown-nosing sneaks by their savvy readers and followers as good old fashioned networking.

Here’s the thing though. The social media crowd often encourages this behavior. Recently I stumbled across a nearly vomit-inducing blog post on how to identify and get the attention of “A-list” bloggers so they’ll become pals and help promote your wares to their awe-inspiring audiences. In another case a colleague lumped herself in with the supposed A-list bloggers (sidenote: nobody else said so first).

People covet that “A-list” label just as some are self-proclaimed gurus. Personally, I’ve had enough of it. Have you? Or are you willing to pucker up in the hopes of riding someone else’s coattails to achieve social media success rather than earning it on your own?

What Constitutes Being a Kiss-Ass in Social Media?


Not sure what would earn you that kiss-ass status? Here are a few examples:

  • You actively pursue relationships with “A-listers” just because they’ve achieved that mythical status, and because you want to get something out of them (namely joint promotions or exposure with their audience as opposed to a more meaningful professional relationship).
  • You constantly rave about, link to, or promote someone in the hopes that they’ll eventually notice poor little you and honor you with their virtual presence (or again, give you some bit of that influence they supposedly have).
  • You’re so busy supporting your social media idols in the hopes that some of their success will trickle down to you that you don’t go out there and do your own thing or provide your own value.
  • You stop maintaining relationships with colleagues, readers, or others in your network simply because they’re not “big enough” to help you increase your status anymore.
  • You do some or all of this because you can’t wait for people to kiss your ass someday.

While these folks tend to stand out in a less than positive light, I don’t think most involved in social media fit the profile (thank you, thank you, thank you!).

Why You Don’t Have to Be One


If the near-permanent attachment of lips to ass doesn’t appeal to you, don’t worry. You can do just fine in the social media world on your own. How do I know that? Well, think for a minute. How did those so-called “A-listers” achieve that status when they were there so early in the game that there were no other “A-listers” to leech onto? Here are a few things they did, and things that you can do too:

  • They provided valuable information to members of the audience they wanted to build.
  • They networked with people who could teach them things, people who could learn from them, and yes even the little guys who tried to strike up conversations.
  • They, in most cases, don’t seem to get too big for their britches. They value people in their networks equally (aside from obvious distinctions like casual acquaintances online versus best buds in the business who meet for lunch once a week). They understand that today’s Joe Schmo could be tomorrow’s Zuckerberg, and even if he’s not there is still value in that relationship.

People do notice (and talk) when you act like a snot-faced little suck-up who’s only around when there’s something in it for you. They notice when you only get attention from the big names if you lavish gifts of praise. But people also notice when you genuinely care about them. So act like it (or better yet, actually do it). Figure out what you have to offer and what might set you apart. Then your success with social media is to no one’s credit but your own, and you can build deserved attention rather than practically begging for it.

How do you feel about kiss-asses in social media, trying to rise in the popularity food chain on the backs of others rather than focusing on their own more legitimate presence with their wider audience? Do you get sucked into some of these behaviors? Which ones, and why? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.


  1. Ah, this is why we love, Jenn. Oops, was that sucking up? 🙂

    You know this phenomenon is nothing new. In grade school and high school, it was sucking up to the cool kids. It’s why celebrities and professional athletes become gazillionaires. But, I love your point, Jenn, about those “A-listers” before they reached that status. The same could be said of some of those athletes. They worked hard to get there. It’s how they deal with that success that shows their true character. But, that’s a post for another day.

    I’ve never understood those with the “celebrity” mentality where they become speechless in the presence of “greatness.” Appreciate what they do, admire them, but recognize they are human. What does it say about your own confidence level if you believe the only way to succeed is through someone else? If I wanted the “A-lister’s” words/ideas, I’d go to the source.

    And as cliche as it is, it’s a very small world. It simply does not pay to step on people because you never know when you just might run into them again when you need them most.

    • You’re absolutely right Cathy. There does seem to be a confidence issue at play when people spend a lot of their time leeching onto others instead of doing something all their own. And I’m sure you know that’s been a recurring issue in the freelance writing community specifically (probably because writers are so active in the blogging side of social media). And you’re right again about stepping on people. You might not see it publicly, but people notice and they talk.

      And I don’t get those with the “celebrity mentality” either Cathy. I’ve always been of the mindset that a person is a person. I’ve worked with indie musicians no one’s ever heard of and consulted with artists from bigger name bands. And I’ve never given one better treatment than another. The same goes with my current market dealing mostly with online entrepreneurs. No matter how much they make or how big their audiences are (and some are pretty huge), I don’t treat Client A differently than Client B or from the next prospect that comes along.

      The “Oh my god I’m so excited to meet you; I’m such a fan!” crap is just too juvenile for me. Then again, I didn’t do that in high school either. I was lucky in that my high school didn’t seem to have the stereotypical cliquey dynamic.

  2. I am new to looking at blogs and could not, for the life of me, understand the saccharine ass kissing, the begging for re-posts and linking, and the schmarmy commenting. Now I get it and I am grossed out that these people are waging some kind latter day high school popularity contest. Oh the shamelessness of these people and their brown noses. Ew. Ick.


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