When you take away the high-tech veneer – the fancy apps etc.,- and the various forms of Social Media are appraised for what they really are, things get pretty easy. Social media are simply new communications tools and as such, the same basic principles for effective human communication apply and anyone can learn them. In fact, everything you need to know to use Facebook, Twitter and the like you should have learned in Pre-School. But in case you didn’t, here is a refresher:
1. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Never put anything in digital form (email, wall post, tweet, whatever) that you are not comfortable sharing with the whole world for eternity. Once you put something in digital form, it can potentially reach every person on earth until the end of time. They don’t call it viral for nothing. You have no control over the reach of your postings, so keep control over your content
Never be negative. Ever. No complaining. No kvetching about anyone. Negative comments when written on a screen, come off as petty and mean, much more so than is generally intended. In the words of my mother, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
2. Share. Once you get on Social Media, say something. Participate in the conversation. Don’t just lurk. Remember the golden rule? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you? There is a reciprocity culture in Social Media and if you want people to pay attention to you, eg. by following you on Twitter or liking you on Facebook, pay attention to them. Post things that may be useful to others. Retweet or Share (on Facebook) something you find interesting or amusing. Comment on the posts of others.
3. But don’t share too much. Though shalt not overtweet, or over post. When people post too often, say six posts in a row on Twitter, it is oh-so-easy to just roll right through them. Over-posters become like white noise. So what is the right amount of posting? It depends but bear in mind the old mouth-to-ears ratio comment. It’s about right. Listen twice as much as you speak.
4. Content is King. Ok, so maybe you didn’t learn this one in pre-school but you should have because it is true. Do not use Social Media tools to only promote whatever it is you may be selling. To get people to pay attention to you and to keep them interested, you have to add value. Your social media strategy should be to become an interesting and relevant voice in the conversation. When that is your focus, you are more likely to be successful so carefully consider the ratio of non-promotional content to promotional content in your postings.