I have mixed feelings when people say things to me about how much time I spend on Facebook. On the one hand, it means I haven’t been all in their faces about the brands I represent on Facebook, and they don’t realize I work all day in social media. On the other hand, it means I haven’t been all in their faces about the brands I represent on Facebook, which according to some people is a cardinal sin.
Understanding this dichotomy is key to understanding social media. In no particular order, here are some other circular lessons I’ve learned from being the voice of a few brands on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.
1. The game changes by the minute. One tweet or Facebook post can get the posse running in a new direction in a matter of minutes. Picture the Keystone Kops. If you’re too young to know what that is, use your Google.
2. The same people who aren’t nice in real life (IRL) aren’t nice on social media. Facebook and Twitter offer a fluid outlet for people who spend their days thinking up cruel things to say. The news is full of stories about hurtful posts on both. Last year I defriended people that joined an obscenely cruel Facebook group suggesting our president suffer the same fate as Michael Jackson. A group created to reminisce about my hometown on Facebook turned out to be a place for people who made fun of others in grade school to do it now. So yeah. Mean in real life=mean on social media.
3. Just like in real life, do your homework. Know what’s happening around you. If you’re trying to be an influencer and you repeat the same message people have been posting all day, it’s ineffective. If you post all in caps about something that isn’t true, your credibility takes a hit. So, as in life, before you get all excited about something you read on social media, do some quick fact checking.
4. Content rules, hand in hand with the lesson above. If all you’re posting is “read my book” “see my show” “come to my store” – the deaf ears are all yours. You gotta tell people why they should be listening to you, or they’re not going to. They’ll find commonality with somebody else who posts a cool article, useful info, or a beautiful photo. Your constant barking will annoy the neighbors.
5. Social media is about sharing and generosity. I’ll never forget the people who supported my blog when I first started writing it. They taught me about the reciprocity of leaving a comment. Many of the people I met in the early days of my foray into social media are still my friends. We’ve all come a long way since then. Like I said above, the game changes daily, but one rule that never changes: generosity and kindness are their own reward.
6. Social media can send you back to junior high in a flash if you let it. If you’re thin-skinned and get upset when you lose a follower, you may not be cut out for this game. It moves fast, we’re all busy, we don’t have time to read what doesn’t interest us and we must edit. Do you follow everyone on Facebook and Twitter? Not everyone’s going to follow you. Just like in real life. Hang with people who get ya. It’s the most fun.
7. Vulgarity comes across the same way in social media as in real life. If you’re the kind of person who’d come to work every day and drop F bombs all over the office, then do the same on social media. The same people who wouldn’t mind at the office won’t mind on Twitter. The rest will move on. If you aren’t after mass appeal, no worries.
8. Likewise spelling and grammar – if you’re careless about both, then you should consider yourself careless about your own credibility. If you’re ok with that, then post away without checking afterwards. We all make mistakes. It’s better to repost and delete a mistake, in my opinion. Social media gives you the option to edit yourself; it’s ok to take it.
9. Facebook is like signing someone’s high school yearbook over and over and over. Jeannie Gaffigan said this on Twitter. She’s an astutely funny user and observer of social media. I was one of those people who LOVED signing yearbooks, hence I love the chance on Facebook to read and write those funny comments over and over. The point is don’t take any of it too seriously, even if it’s your job. It’ll change, and you should too.
Two more bonus observations by Jeannie:
• Why don’t they just make typing on an iphone a sobriety test?
• Twitter is just getting texts from cool people.
10. Eat your veggies. What? It’s true.