Philosophy, Psychology, Nerdisms, Writing from the Trenches

Social Media for the Common Man

Social Media for the Common Man – So, you’ve joined a social network

I was going to title this post “Don’t Be and Asshat”, but decided to be a little more upbeat with it. If you’re looking for something on not being an asshat on your social media platforms, especially if you’re a writer, I send you here. Chuck Wendig’s a little in your face, but he makes valid points and he makes them well.

So, you’ve joined a social network.http://www.yourcomputer.com/portals/0/images/QuestionKey.jpg

What do you put on there?

Well, here’s the good thing and the bad thing:

It’s really up to you.

Here are some things to get your posting started:

1. Find people who share your interests.

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. Social media is all about being social. You’re making connections and building relationships. You aren’t standing on a soapbox with a loudspeaker; you’re in the party working the crowd. First, you’re going to need to find some people who share your interests. And, don’t give me that crap about not knowing what your interests are. What are you looking for from people on Twitter? Book recommendations? Movie reviews? Humorous anecdotes about deep sea fishing?

There is someone out there broadcasting just that kind of information. Start following them, add them to your feed, read their blog.

2. Decide who you want to be.

This is a strange, philosophical order, but you need to pick your online persona. Not even I can be everything all the time. The most important thing is for you to be you. Being yourself in 140 characters in a daunting thought, but it’s not as hard as it sounds. It’s okay to hesitate over a post. It’s okay to hit the delete button. It’s okay to leave something in the draft box. You can take some time to decide which parts of your personality shine through on the web. Sarcasm…not always understood. Irony…not always apparent. Remember that on Twitter and your blog, most of what you post will be viewable by the public. If you’re comfortable hanging your crusty underwear out there, go for it.

Personally, I wouldn’t want too much of my life on the web, but I did post pictures of my room on my blog. I’m comfortable sharing that.

Streaming video of me sleeping? Not really me.

3. Find the line between engaging and stalking and DON’T CROSS IT.

There are celebrities on Twitter. But, guys, they’re on Twitter. They came to the party. They can’t have the expectation that people aren’t going to try to talk to them. And, if you’re interested in them or their work, I would encourage you to follow them. On the flip side, be aware that everyone wants to talk to them. Did you tweet an alarmingly clever reply to something Lady GaGa said? Don’t be offended if she doesn’t answer. People are responding all the time. On the other hand, you don’t want to be that creepy nutbag who replies, @LadyGaga LOL!!! after everything she posts. While that won’t necessarily get you negative attention, it certainly won’t stick out when you say something charming and witty and worthy of response.

Choose your responses and choose them wisely. You don’t know how someone will react to your (sorta)unsolicited attention. Don’t say, “@joshgroban I want to wear your face.”Something like, “@joshgroban I enjoy your music” is a little less creepy. For smaller-time celebrities, just be aware that the first time might surprise them. When someone you don’t know starts talking to you by referencing something you just said, it’s surprising, but we humans are getting more used to it.

4. When in doubt, Golden Rule it

Imagine you had the worst week in the world and you tweet, “Just had a really bad week.” What kind of response are you looking for?

You don’t have to be looking for a response. You can simply be mentioning your bad day because it helps you relax. But, suppose someone sees it and responds with “@your_name LOL!! I haz a bad week, 2!!1!!!” That probably doesn’t make you feel any better. That person is being an asshat. DON’T BE AN ASSHAT!

It’s not that hard. Put yourself in someone else’s position. That’s actually a primary evolutionary trait we’ve acquired to deal with the need to socialize. How would you want someone to respond? You can add a personal touch and begin to work up a rapport, but just be aware of your own feelings to help guide you in your responses. You won’t always be correct; different people have different thresholds. It’s about relationships. Those don’t always start off with a bang.

Social media can be really fun. Don’t let anything deter you from trying it out. If you aren’t having a good time, stop doing it. I won’t judge you for it.

Remember, finding your voice takes time. Connecting with people takes time. Social media isn’t magic.

I will bring you some more content creation tips in…three days? I promise three days.


Notes on Social Media or I’m not from the government but I’ll help anyway

As you would have known from my previous post, I am true neutral.

But, in honor of my favorite Avenger, Agent Phillip Coulson, I am going to offer you some help in an attempt to put some rampant Internet rumors to rest.

There is no need to fear social media.

What are my qualifications?

Well, I’ll start with my baffling Klout score. I have kept my Klout score above 40 fairly consistently since I joined about a year ago. Is this because I want free stuff? No. Well, a little. But, really, a big part of maintaining my Klout score is by not actively attempting to maintain it. If you don’t know what Klout is, it’s an analytical tool (that is not perfect) that can be used to understand how influential you are and what you are influential about on several different social media sites.

I am the producer for Everything Internet Radio, a show dedicated to bringing small business owners and entrepreneurs everything they need to know about keeping their business uploaded and updated. We have a podcast, too, if that’s of interest. Anyway, I have to keep my finger on the pulse of not only the Internet, but the social media realm. We have two guests per show and at least one social media/marketing firm represented per show. I’ve been listening.

I was the Social Media Manager for the DFW Writers’ Conference, running their Twitter and Facebook accounts. A volunteer position that I could regrettably only give a few hours a week to.

Lastly, I’m under 30.

Still not convinced I’m qualified to give you advice on social media?

Thanks for listening. I’ll see you next week when I post about something else. For those of you who care to stick around, here it goes.

A few things on social media.

1. Stop calling it your “platform”, “fan base”, etc…

What are you selling? Is it yourself? Because that reminds me of a different profession that has little to do with social media. When I stepped into my role with @DFWCon, they were working off bad advice. They had downloaded a program that automatically followed people with a particular hashtag, with the hope that these people would follow back out of some sort of honor based system of “Followback”. They had the same tweet going out once a day, just so there would be activity on the feed. I felt as though I were some captain coming out of hypersleep to find my spaceship drifting lazily through the void with a dull-witted automatic pilot, slipping my hands into the steering yoke to set everything back on course.

Why was this the wrong approach? Sheer numbers is not what social media is about. Social media is about building relationships. It’s about communication. What needed to change? We shouldn’t have targeted people in general, we should have tried to reach people interested in attending our conference. How? By interacting with our guest agents. James Rollins, our keynote speaker, was interacting with us on Twitter, talking about how he was excited to attend the conference.

Guess who follows James Rollins? People who like James Rollins.

Guess who should be attending our conference? People who want to hear James Rollins give a class/keynote address.

Is there going to be overlap?

Yes. A lot of it.

2. Patience.

Do you know how, in real life, when you meet someone, it takes time to build a rapport with that person? The same is true of social media. Rome wasn’t built in a day. You’re not going to start reaching everyone immediately, even if you want to. You know what also takes time? Learning the rules and shortcuts of the social network you’re using. Where does that @reply belong if you want everyone to see it? Not at the beginning of your tweet. When should I #hashtag? Depends. I like to do it when I’m being #ironic. What happens when I type the @ symbol in my Facebook status update? Well, try it and see. #evilgrin

My point is: Don’t get flustered. Look at it as a bright and shiny new tool, a new iPad, say. Here is this thing with potential. How you make it work for you is up to you. Relax. If there’s something you don’t understand, ask your followers. If that doesn’t work, or you have too few followers to get an answer, type your question into Google.

I could go on with tons of hints, but I’m going to stop after this next one. If you want to hear (read) more, let me know in the comments. Or not. I might do another one of these if I get frustrated at the fear-mongering again.

3. If you don’t want to do it, don’t.

Not sure if you want to blog? Try it out. Don’t expect a lot of comments. If you don’t like it, go ahead and delete the blog. No one’s going to get mad at you. No one’s going to call you a failure. It’s not that big of a deal. Remember that age-old joke, “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” Stop doing it.

Anyone who tells you that you “have to” do something is lying to you. If you don’t get any enjoyment out of tweeting or reading other people’s tweets, you can get off Twitter. Those people who say, “You’re not on Facebook? What’s wrong with you?”…there actually might be something wrong with them. I’m not against trying new things. Many things deserve to be tried. But, if you feel very reluctant about doing something online, don’t. We’re all friends here. We don’t want you to feel uncomfortable.

Don’t confuse the addicts with people who think you’re funny, sincere, genuine. Sometimes, people want to hear what you have to say and when they ask, “Are you on Twitter?” be honest. They’ll understand. Maybe not right away, but point them toward this post.

Social media is not something to be feared.

It’s something that promotes communication and relationships. It helps people stay in touch. It celebrates the human condition.

Enjoy it.


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