I’m going to switch gears here for a minute and talk about something I’m passionate about in my professional life. This blog has gotten to see some facets of my personal interests, but the reality is that I spend a lot of my time working and a lot of my energy and thoughts focus on that work. The thing is, I like what I do. I mean, I really like it. I get to be a storyteller on behalf of innovative brands and help them take the most compelling pieces of their daily work to the best fit audience. It’s like being a matchmaker, a less creepy matchmaker.
One of the things I’m most interested in is the use of social media as a channel for storytelling and a game-changer for communication, whether personal or professional. While I find many folks in the field feel daunted by the ever-changing landscape, I am energized by it. Just over 10 years ago, it was only email and Friendster, if you weren’t super savvy on those, you weren’t online. Now there is a platform suited for a number of niches and skill sets and it’s just a matter of finding where you connect best. Think of it less like how to sit at the cool kids’ table in the lunch room and more like how to find that super rad food truck with the killer Korean tacos in your neighborhood. Finding the right fit is so much more satisfying than squeezing into an uncomfortable setting with people talking about things you don’t really care about.
When I am helping friends, clients or really anyone on the street corner who wants to hear my opinion, I tell them to consider their online goals before spreading out all over the interwebs. Asking the following questions help to make sure you’re landing in the right place at the right time without a lot of crazy-making along the way:
- What do I want to do online? Whether you are hoping to stay connected to a group of people, network for career opportunities, or share your talents with the world, there is probably a spot online for you. Should everyone be involved with social media? Yes, especially from a professional standpoint. Should everyone be involved in all social media? I’d say probably not. Getting a clear vision of what you want to use social media to do is the first step in figuring out where to spend your time and effort.
- Who is my audience? For better or for worse, these days, all the world truly is a stage. We’ve all seen a few awkward Failbook moments go down in flames and some of us may have even seen how social connections can influence real world relationships. This question is important on two parts: Who do you want listening to you online? Who may already be listening? Taking it back to the stage scenario, imagine you’re about to go on stage to tell jokes to a crowd. You’ve probably invited a bunch of friends who identify with your political opinions, but it’s good to be aware that grandparents, aunts, cousins and potential employers could also be in the audience hoping to hear what you think. Knowing your goal here is important, because if it is to make people laugh you may adjust your style and language in mixed company. However, if it is to tell hard-hitting political jokes to make people think, well, then be ready to have a sidebar conversation with grandma about how you learned about the f word. (Of course I’m talking about farkle.)
- How does each platform support my goals? People always tell me they don’t really get Facebook or that they wouldn’t be on it if everyone else wasn’t already there. In my opinion, you should only use the platforms that you enjoy and make sense for your interests. My husband, for example, took a daring step by deleting his profile entirely at the beginning of the year. He prefers keeping in touch through phone calls, texts and Skype. The concern that he would be out of the loop was invalid because that guy is all over Twitter. Twitter is the set up that makes the most sense for him. He uses the internet to research, to get information and to jog new ideas for him to take offline. Microblogged thoughts, teasers for links and quick updates from the people he follows is exactly his speed, and it works really well for him. On the other hand, I am a big fan of Facebook as unhipster as that may sound. Because I am such an E on the Meyers-Briggs scale, I relish any opportunity for conversation with people. I want to see all the pictures you’re posting, I actually think your political statuses are thought-provoking and I’ve won so much cool stuff on Facebook that I follow all of my favorite brands.
So what’s my point? Social is all about knowing how you can make these platforms work for you and not letting the options overwhelm your intentions. The fact of the matter is that social media is changing how we connect and interact with each other as well as how we do business. Having a personal strategy, no matter how simple, is the first step in using these utilities to your benefit without the emotional roller coaster of “I quit Facebook!… I’m back on Facebook, all!…I’m quitting…” Not that anyone has ever done such a thing.
What about you? How do you connect to the ocean social of options without being toppled by a tidal wave of info?