Traditionally, we have heard of the term “social butterfly” as being someone that is a connector, shares their relationships and networks with others in a traditional social setting.  However, with the increase use of social media, professional networking sites, and the strong influence of websites and blogs in business, another term has emerged:  Social Media Butterflies.

According to an article from Small Business Trends, a social media butterflies are individuals online “who live to connect people from inside their different networks. If you need a programmer, they know a guy. If you need 100 invitations made by yesterday, they have a friend who does that. They’ll make the introduction for you because they take pleasure in mixing up their networks,” (“5 Type of Influencers on the Web,” July 15, 2010, para. 3).  These individuals are engaging, active across multiple platforms, confident in themselves and in their work, and interactive with their audience followers and who take the time to listen and act upon what others are asking, commenting, and discussing online.  Social media butterflies are not only limited to just individuals, but organizations and even institutions.  Ohio State University has created their own social media butterfly design and platform to engage and interact with others online – very interesting. 🙂

Social Media Butterfly Diagram (Courtesy of Ohio State Univ, 2008)

The question that arises is whether being a social media butterfly is a good or bad thing?  I would argue that if it is done strategically and with a clear understanding of the work and dedication it takes to maintain this role, then it is a good thing.  Being a quote social media butterfly (or what others call micro-celebrities).  What exactly is a micro-celebrity?  These are individuals that are well-known and influential online – whether it is because of their website, personal blog, or their Twitter or YouTube accounts.

On a personal note, one of the things that I did when I was starting out in track was to create a website to market myself as a track and field athlete to various college coaches and universities.  My ultimate goal was to get a scholarship to compete in track and field – and I knew that at the time (1995), there were very few personal websites out there, let along ones in track and field for athletes.  I updated and maintained my website with my track and field stats, pictures, and grades (was definitely motivating to make sure to get good ones! :)), writing a newsletter discussing what it was like to be a college athlete at Florida and USC called Kmail, as well as interacting with those coming to my website.  My website has transformed dramatically  over the course of 15 years, but even in academia and at conferences – I am known as the PR PhD student with the website and blog, which is just fabulous! 🙂

So, are social media butterflies just a fad that we have to consider only in 2010?  I would say no – the phenomenon of influencers is still present and will continue to evolve as technology does – but it is important to state that those that are successful in their influence and presence online will maintain that if they also have a strong presence in real-life.  Meaning, there needs to be a balance in how people perceive you on these various social media platforms and in person.  We do not necessarily do everything online, so it is key that we also make sure that we invest in how we interact with others normally.  In other words, being a social media butterfly takes time, dedication, hard work, and a forward-thinking perspective on how this is going to influence how others see you.

Hope you all are having a wonderful day.

Best Wishes,