When it comes to social media, ego plays two critical roles: you need to boost everyone else’s, while curbing yours. No, this isn’t some nefarious plan to sabotage your competitors by giving them an overinflated sense of self-importance. Ego is the engine that makes social media work.

No matter how many followers you have, I think even the most blasé social media user gets a tiny thrill when they see a  new follower, or a new retweet, or a new reply. After all, being accepted and esteemed by a community is one of the most basic human needs. Every time someone responds to a message that we put out on social media, we see it as a tiny affirmation of our self worth: yes! Someone read what I wrote and cared enough to write back 140 characters (or less) to me! By extension, I must be important!

When you’re using social media, whether for personal or business reasons, your goal should be to give that feeling as often as possible, and to stifle the reaction in yourself. By giving to people through retweets, conversations, following, liking, and other activities, we get to share that warm, fuzzy feeling of importance of self-worth. That’s how we build relationships and make people like us, not by constantly tooting our own horns and spouting about how great we are.

But if you let the tiny, every day victories of more friends, more fans, more followers, more connections, more likes, more retweets and on and on and on add up, you might find yourself with a grossly overinflated sense of your own self-importance. Sure, people like to hear from you–if it’s short, sweet, and interesting. But if you start believing your own hype and living more for that rush of adrenaline when someone cares what you have to say, beware–you’re going to start sucking at social media.

Remember, social media is not ever really about you–it’s about how you can help people. So get yourself out of the picture, and help others to feel good. You’ll be amazed at the success it brings you!