One Dozen Social Media Lessons We Can All Learn From

Social media lessons

Here are 12 social media lessons we could all learn from.

1. Spread the love

Social networks live on connections. If someone you know writes something cool, or is just generally an all around good guy, let other folks know.

Todo: Learn what Follow Friday is.

2. If you want to talk, first learn to listen

That evolution (see #1) means everyone can see through you.

Leap into a conversation on, say, Twitter, without understanding the history. Type message. Insert foot, 140 characters at a time. Your audience will figure out you’re full of crap in a big hurry.

So learn to listen, first.

Todo: Learn to use Google Reader or another monitoring tool. Sign up for Twitter and track a few cool lists.

3. If you want to talk, learn the language

Social media conversations whiz by. ZZzzzzip. See? There goes one now.

Be brief and to the point. Don’t use 10 words if 2 will do.

Todo: Learn to be brief.

4. Answer questions. Contribute.

When you do talk, answer questions. Help out.

Think of each social media conversation as a construction project: It’s built one Tweet, blog post or smoke signal at a time. If whatever you’re about to write won’t help build that conversation, think twice before you click ’send’ or ‘publish’ or whatever.

Even silly conversations are construction projects. Ever been in a public place with 2 friends, joking around and laughing hysterically about the course a conversation just took? What happens when a stranger walks up and says “Yeah!” or something equally brilliant? End of conversation.

Social media’s no different. Actually, that conversation was social media. And some nubwit just tore down your structure. Sheesh.

Todo: Every day, find 3 people looking for answers on Twitter, Facebook or wherever you hang out. Either give them a useful answer yourself, or refer them to someone you think might help. Contribute!

5. Start conversations that matter (as much as possible)

Maybe you’re cursing about the NY Giants (like me) or chatting about NASA’s latest Ares rocket launch. Either way, make sure your conversation matters.

‘Matters’ means ’someone else will care’.

We’ve got enough folks talking about their breakfast. Nuthin’ wrong with that, I guess. Just try to mix in some real stuff, OK?

Social media lessons Todo: Start at least one conversation that gets a response from other people.

6. Don’t look for instant dollars

Whenever someone dismisses social media with a statement like “I just don’t see the payoff”, I want to scream.

No, I don’t believe in the economy of free. However there’s more to business, and life, than dollars.

And you can’t expect a quick payoff, either.

For business, social media is like a networking event that never stops. Start conversations that matter, contribute, and you gain trust, acceptance and reputation. That’s when the payoff begins.

If you’re a consultant, leads start trickling in. If you’re a retailer, folks start showing up saying they heard about you online. If you run a food truck, guess what? You’ll have folks lining up around the corner.

Todo: Put a blank piece of paper on your desk. Every time you get a ‘thank you’ from a social media conversation, put a check mark. Give yourself a Kit Kat for each check. See how many check marks you need before you get something tangible. I’ll bet it’s around 100…

7. Find new friends

In any social environment, it’s easy to get comfortable and stick with who you know. However you need to branch out.

Every new person you meet is a potential guide to a whole new community or mini-audience.

Todo: Follow/reply to/friend at least one truly relevant, interesting person each day.

DO NOT use automatic friend/follow software. The stupidity police will find you and carry you away in their whisper choppers to their secret base far below the Earth’s surface. You’ll never be seen again.

8. Set a routine

Leave Twitter running all day and it’ll take over your life. Trust me. Instead, set a routine. Set a goal for your involvement: Once a day. Twice a day. Whatever’s easy.

Todo: Go into your calendar and schedule time every X hours or X days or X minutes to go listen and respond. Stick to it. Don’t do it more or less than you scheduled. Try that for at least a week. Then dial your time up or down as needed. Look at using a social media scheduling tool instead, to save even more time.

9. Don’t take yourself so seriously

You. Aren’t. That. Important. Sorry, it’s just true. I’m not either. If there are 5 million people online right now, chances are one of them knows more than you about your conversation of the moment.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. This isn’t a courtroom. It’s a bunch of people standing around with drinks in their hand, chatting about everything from sports to lingerie to world peace.

Todo: Read your last 3 days’ Tweets. Make fun of at least one of them, in public.

10. Assemble a toolset

Make social media lessons your own. Learn to use Tweetdeck or Seesmic and you can post to Facebook, Twitter and other outlets from one location. Learn to use Google Reader or another good feed reader and you can track lots of conversations from one place, without burning out your frontal lobe.

Always find ways to make participation easier.

Todo: Download and install Tweetdeck or Seesmic. Learn to use at least one of them, on at least 2 different social networks.

11. Start using photos

Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Learn to use Flickr, Twitpic and Facebook photo albums. Well, learn one of ‘em, at least.

And learn to use your cell phone camera, will ya?

Todo: Go for a walk. See something cool. Snap a quick photo and upload it to the network of your choice.

12. That’s all, folks

Where do you go from here? It’s up to you. Everyone converses in their own way. All I’m saying with these social media lessons is get out there and join the conversation. Learn your style, find your friends and the rest will fall into place.

About author

An Australian guest blogger and writer, Emma writes on her own small business blog, as well as guest posts for many other brands and mastheads. Emma lives in Melbourne with her two cats, where she frequents live theatre and wine bars.