Friday, October 26, 2012

Do You Really WANT To Be Social?

The other evening, I attended the most recent Social Media Club of Chicago event. It featured a great panel, was well run, and very well attended. During the course of the evening, one of the founders made a comment to the effect of ‘have fun with social media’ and it occurred to me – it is indeed that simple.

We always do things better when we enjoy what we’re doing and are passionate about it. And the other evening, there were a lot of people passionate about social media in one place. However, I strongly believe that there is a huge segment of social media users that feel like they’re forced to participate or are doing it for the wrong reasons.

As human beings, we are inherently social. But some people are indeed more social than others.
Some like to go out and do things every weekend. Others enjoy sitting on the couch and catching up on the backlog of TV shows on the DVR. So it absolutely makes sense that some people are going to be more attracted and by proxy, more passionate, about socializing via technology since they are indeed, more social “offline”.
Here are some ways to figure out if you’re really passionate about social media:

·        What does your content look like? If you’re only posting press releases, broadcast messages, and not “humanizing” your online efforts at all, it probably comes across that way. People don’t want to interact with robots, they want to interact with other people that have emotions and stories and whatnot. Take a look at your Facebook wall, Twitter feed, etc. and see what kind of content you’re posting – does it interest you? If not, it probably doesn’t interest others either.

·        What’s your avatar? Is it a generic Twitter-issued graphic? Is it your professional head shot? Is it a cartoon character? While all of those can be used, I think it’s important to use a picture of you, and really to change it from time to time. Your avatar is how you’re identified online, so again, in an effort to humanize your online efforts, it should reflect you, and how you look/feel today. The head shot from 15 years ago, while it might make you look good, isn’t really helping…

·        Are you excited to post things or is it just another “to-do” item? If social media is really work to you in the sense that you classify it as something you have to do like filling out expense reports or cleaning off your desk, you should probably stop. Now for all you yelling at your computers, hear me out – I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – the best part of social media is the people you meet. If social media is just another item on the to do list that you mark off and move on, without seeking to engage with other users at any level, you’re probably not going to see much of an impact. It’s just the truth.

·        How often do you really participate? We all post and re-post others things regularly, but how often are you really participating in the conversation? Whether it’s interacting in a tweet chat like @foodiechats, commenting on blog posts or status updates, or simply conversing with other users via these channels, these are all forms of participation, and the folks that are most successful in this realm (outside of celebrities/athletes/etc..) are ones that sincerely engage with their connections. It’s called social media, not broadcast media, which implies that there is interaction, and give and take, not just one way communications.
The cool thing about social media is that you can present yourself however you want to be presented, so if you’re into muscle cars and bug collecting, you can talk about those things and connect with others that share those hobbies much more easily than you can “offline.” The information is there, the people that WANT to connect with you are there, the only thing missing is the effort.

If you want to grow your network, meet new people, or establish yourself as an expert in a specific area, the opportunity is there. All I'm saying is that you need to have fun doing so, and you'll make stronger connections and have a better experience. And if you're not one of the more social people out there and social media isn't for you, that's ok. Maybe one day you will be as passionate about it as I am.
And if you are interested in learning more about social media, I hope to see you at my session at Ektron's Synergy Conference next month where I'll be talking about social media.
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