In the course of my work, I’ve made a number of small mistakes on social media (haven’t we all?). Looking back, I probably could have prevented most of them with a bit more foresight. In any case, at least I’ve been able to learn something about the inner workings of the social media world. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way so maybe you won’t have to repeat my faux pas.
1. Attract the right people
This is the key to creating a high-quality network. Your success on a social network primarily depends on the relationships which you build: on the people with whom you choose to be friends and on the things which you do there. People tend to forgetthat just like in our daily lives, also in the virtual world, the people you are friends with and how you interact with them is what truly matters.
You probably are acquainted with any number of social media junkies who follow and respond to everyone on Facebook. Being a social media junkie is a mistake. There is no value in following, responding and adding “likes” without making a distinction between them. It is better to be in touch only with people who have meaning for you. By doing so, you will enhance your relationship with your followers. There is no point in increasing the number of followers you have, just for the sake of having more friends. It’s meaningless.
In addition, only respond to posts which interest you. Talking aboutthings which do not really interest you, for the sake of populism, or in order to increase the number of followers you have, will lead you astray. Let your true me shine, and in this way, the “right” people, the ones truly interested in what you have to say, will follow you.
2. Aspire to hold meaningful conversations
Attimes, because we are so busy trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t work on social networks, we forgetthe true purpose of it all. Social networks are intended to create relationships between people, and to allow people to interact with one another, despite geographical distances.
Thanks to Facebook, scientists from NASA, engineers, actors and artists – everybody can talk to one another. Just imagine yourselves at a global conference, attended by the most interesting people in the world and where you have the opportunity to sit down with everybody, face to face.
Social networks allow us to do precisely this. We can talk with people who genuinely interest us and inspire us. If you like the online advertising industry, then you can find other people in the industry and follow them and talk to them. You can ask them a question about a recent blog post or you can challenge them to a professional debate. And when you’re talking with experts in a particular field, and they answer you, then you are, in a certain sense, positioning yourself in their league.
Obviously, ittakes time to feel comfortable doing this but it is definitely a question of how you want to position yourself professionally.
3. Create true value for your friends or they will ignore you
In my opinion, this rule is basic. Everybody has something they truly love or are genuinely good at – their passion. Attimes, this might be more than one area. These are the things you can talk about for hours and hours on end, without stopping and without getting bored. Find your passion, and share it with your friends.
Why? Because there is no way more wonderful than this to become an expert in something, anything – photography, drawing, cinema … It might perhaps even be the silliestthing of all. Experts can all tell a whole load of stories, some of them silly and trivial, others less so: advice and tips, mistakes they’ve made; and so on and so forth (like this post). By sharing stories, you’re giving your friends something in return for their friendship. Once they perceive the value in being friends with you, this will make all the difference.
4. Maintain transparency and originality – create true relationships
We all have something special in us, something that we can use to help others: our expertise. However, you have to be careful –everyone today is spreading information, all the time. As a result, audiences have learned to separate out the experts from the wannabes. If it looks like you are trying too hard to impress others or that you don’t really understand the field in which you are presenting yourself as an expert, the fraud will eventually be exposed and your online image will be ruined.
And so, my personal philosophy goes as follows: be original and be genuine. Respond politely to people who hold discussions with you or who argue with your theories – these are the people who will stay in touch with you for the long term, as opposed to those who are merely adding a “like” to your posts without expressing any genuine interest in them. In addition, don’t forgetthat being transparent and being honest is not easy – it means that you need to admit your mistakes.
However, over time, being transparent and honest will create genuine and true relationships between you and the people following you. The most importantthing in the world of social networks is not concepts like going viral, exposure or “likes”. At the end of the day, only one thing really matters – relationships.