“Dayne, we just got Facebook!”
That’s what I heard one afternoon in early 2005 (I think) when someone in my dorm walked down the hall and leaned into my room while I was working on my laptop.
My response was, “What’s Facebook?”
I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience. Someone told you about Facebook or Twitter or whatever and you at first had no idea what they were talking about.
But then you got curious and looked into it and now you’re probably using social media in some way. I’ll make that assumption since you’re reading this post.
And social media is a good thing!
I really can’t imagine life without it even though it’s only been about 10 years since I started using that. But 10 years is a pretty long time depending how you look at it.
Since it’s been about 10 years I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and lessons on using social media both for personal reasons and for business reasons.
Lesson #1. Less Is More
When social media really started gaining some steam it seemed that there was a new network every month. Things have slowed down now a bit. These days we might see a new one really catch on every year or so.
But even still, there are a handful of big time social media sites and it’s pretty much impossible for one person to be on all of them. I mean, you can be on all of them, but you won’t have the time to really be engaging on them all.
I’ve found that’s it’s good to have one channel t hat is your preferred channel. Mine is Twitter. I still have a Facebook account and a LinkedIn account and with Facebook I don’t really use it at all.
I use LinkedIn for business purposes, but Twitter is where I put all my effort. And even then I do more listening than sharing.
It’s good to try new networks when they come along, but a good rule is that one person per channel is about the max.
Lesson #2. Everything Is Public
A Green Bay Packer player just had a breakout week. He’s a rookie. I think he’s like 23 years old. Almost as soon as he caught his first touchdown pass he was in hot water for things he tweeted a number of years ago when he must have been a freshman in college.
Everything is public on social media. I would even treat something like Snapchat that way.
If you’re not sure what’s in your history it might be a good idea to go back and delete old posts. It’ll take effort, but it’s not a bad idea.
And going forward, treat everything as if everybody in the world can and will find it and see it.
Lesson #3. Arguing Is Wasted Energy
You’re not going to convince people that you’re right and they’re wrong. Would someone be able to change your mind? Probably not. So arguing on social media (or really in person too) is a waste of energy.
There are better things to do on social media. There are great relationships to make. There are positive things you can be doing instead of getting into arguments.
Lesson #4. Context Can Get Lost
Maybe you’ve experienced this. You say something to someone on social media and they take it the wrong way. That’s a tricky thing with social media. The context can easily get lost in translation.
It’s a good habit to get into when you’re writing things and posting things to take a second to re-read it. See if it still makes sense and then go ahead and publish it. It’s easy in today’s world to forget a word or use the wrong word and it can lead to some confusion.
Lesson #5. You Can Make Real Connections
The thing with social media is that there is a perception that you can’t make real connections or foster real relationships. I think that it is possible. I’m not saying that social media has replaced in person interaction, but it’s not as far apart as it may seem. My best relationships are person to person, but I’ve made some great connections on social media. Some have led to meeting in person, but many have not and that’s still just fine.
Lesson #6. More Posting = More Followers
This is a general rule of thumb. It’s not absolute.
But in general, the more you post the more followers or connections you’ll have. That’s something I’ve seen to really be true across all the different social channels especially when you’re starting out.
Over time, the big people on social media do cut back on frequency, but they’re usually posting pretty often in their early days.
If you want to build a following the first thing I would do is double or triple your frequency.
Lesson #7. Experiment With The New
I like the idea of sticking with one social network, but I still like the idea of experimenting. You never know when something better will come along and the only way to be ready is to be open to trying new things.
Trying doesn’t mean you have to go full in. But you can give most things a good effort and see if it’s for you.
I’ve seen people do that with social media. Some have started with Facebook and moved to Instagram and then to Snapchat. They experiment with each new thing that comes along and move on if it suits them.
And the other cool thing is that early adopters have a big advantage with building an audience. If you’re an early adopter and a heavy user on a new channel you can really build a big audience.
Lesson #8. Know The Audience
Let’s say you love Facebook, but work in the B2B industry. I’ve been seeing more success with this situation, but there is probably still more opportunity for B2Bs with LinkedIn.
Social media for business is a balance. You want to use the channel you enjoy using while also going where your audience is. So you’ll have to find the right mix or you might have to learn to love the channel that makes the most sense for your business.
Lesson #9. Converse
I’ve fallen into the trap of using Twitter only to promote my blog posts. It’s push, push, push.
That can work pretty well, but the real opportunity with social media is using it to make connections. There’s a balance. And part of that balance is conversing and engaging with others. That means replying to their posts. Commenting. Sharing your thoughts and talking directly with people. Asking questions. All the “normal” things you do in person when you’re conversing and engaging with others.
Lesson #10. Don’t Overlook “Old School” Social Media
Finally, don’t overlook the old school social media. I’m talking about the forums and chat rooms and those types of things. Before social media was a thing these sites were pretty popular. And they’re still pretty popular in many ways. There are some really niche, but really popular forums out there.
You might find more value on a forum than on Facebook or Twitter.
Social media has really been a great thing. My use has changed over the years and I’ve learned a few things. That first day when my buddy walked into the room announcing that Facebook has arrived is burned in my memory and for good reason. The world changed around that time and social media has been evolving ever since.