All of us are prone to drifting off into our own interests, and forgetting that not everybody is fascinated by the same things that we are.
Here are some guidelines to follow that will keep you on track:
The cardinal rule for interacting on social media is much the same as the old saying, “You have two ears and one mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you talk.” Keeping abreast of the latest memes, abbreviations, embarrassing errors and unsolved mysteries does more than make you look like the coolest kid on the playground. It provides you with insight into how to take the conversation one step further, rather than telling people things that they already know.
This is a little counter-intuitive. Having what social media experts describe as “wide antennae” means that you pay attention to a lot of different sources of information. Being able to bring something new and interesting to the conversation (that still relates to what is being discussed) means that you are adding value to your community. We suggest you set aside time each week to browse sites that represent opposing points of view. Everyone needs to have their homework checked, even if the person who is arguing against you is quite clearly wrong in every conceivable way (as they so obviously are).
3. Think before you post
While there is definitely some value in being the first in your community to bring a fact or occurrence to everyone’s attention, there’s a difference when it comes to expressing your own personal opinion. The internet is full of people flying off the handle, having knee-jerk reactions, going nuclear, or whatever phrase you want to use to express shouting before they think. There are enough people like that already. Be different.
One of the most valuable things you can do is to take information from a wide variety of points of view and then find a common thread in all of them that ties it all together in a new way. Giving people a new way to look at the relationships between familiar objects, institutions or people is a really good way to surprise and delight your followers.
You will know that you are being relevant when your followers seek out your opinion on matters; they share what you post to their followers; when you meet new people, they say, “I’ve been wanting to meet you — I’ve been reading what you say about …”
5. Be Consistent
There are two ways to be consistent on your social media profiles — be consistent with what you say, and be consistent with when you say it. Both can help you build an audience and reward people who take the time to follow you.
First, consistency with what you say means that if you are known on Tumblr for posting photos of the latest heavy-duty rock-climbing gear, suddenly switching over to posting your favorite creampuff recipes would be such a drastic change in tone and content that it would make most of your followers suspect that your account has been hijacked. This is not to say that once you establish your personality that you are never allowed to deviate from what you talk about. It’s OK @md in fact, it can be a welcome relief — to broaden your focus from time to time. Just make sure that if you are going to shift gears, that you give a little explanation to your audience as to why you are doing it.
The second key to consistency is to post, update and interact at regular intervals. For many people this is not a challenge, as they log on to social media sites, and get lost there for hours. However, mindless surfing is not (surprise!) productive. We recommend being a little more mindful of your activities, particularly if you are hoping to use social media to build credibility, authority, or for business purposes.
One good way to do that is to establish a clear and consistent schedule for your social media sessions. Set aside Mondays for posting about ways to schedule your work week, or tools that you can use to prioritize. Wednesdays can be about planning for the weekend, while Fridays are good for a round-up of the week’s funniest viral videos. Or you can segment what you do according to the time of day — such as posting quirky items first thing in the morning to give people a smile over their morning coffee, and then switching to more business-related subjects in the afternoon.