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.
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.