One of my favourite musicals of all time is Les Miserables about the story of Jean Valjean, at the start of the story prisoner 24601. The number and his past follows him through the story as he seeks to assert who he is as a human without the baggage of the number he was once known as.
I mention this as there is some debate happening right now about the change in the way social media is being viewed by search engines (especially Google).
Whilst moving in social media circles you’re often asked to think about useful measures and ways to filter information, reflecting on all the posts about it have made me stop to think about how we can get focused too much just on the numbers and not enough on the positive outcomes that we can gain from social media.
Above all we need to use our wisdom here. We need to view the numbers recorded as interesting, but not as the full story. I am not my number (especially if it can change so comprehensively overnight!). I am more than my story on social.
Even on social whilst I can take account and interest of the numbers, I will do better when I concentrate on the outcomes that social gives me.
Questions to ask yourself when using social
Is the overall outcome positive, or negative for me? Some positive outcomes I may choose to focus are:
- I helped someone out today
- I learnt something new today
- I made a difference today
- I met someone new today/made a new connection
- I reconnected with someone today
- I deepened a relationship today
Don’t spread yourself too thin
Often it feels like we are being compelled to try everything. When we try this, what we get is breadth of coverage often at the expense of depth of coverage and fullness of knowledge. We know a little about a lot. In old money we are a jack of all trades and master of none.
The opposite of this is to be very discerning about where you put your time and energy on the web. You choose the platforms which make most sense for you (yes you, not your friend, not your competitor; you)
We have an opportunity to craft our unique presence on the web. To be well thought out. To use sites which please us and which fulfil the function we chose them for. At the same time they also are where the people we want to connect with and to learn from, and to share with, hang out and out their content and ideas as well.
Above all, we can breathe. We can enjoy deepening the knowledge and the relationships we have already started building. We can get off the Merry Go Round.
What about new social media tools? For most people, you won’t necessarily feel that you have to be on top of every little thing. Again you can stop and make a positive choice about which new tool or platform you will try out and then give yourself time to build a practice around it. This approach helps you avoid that feeling of dabbling that can arise when you fail to give yourself time to enjoy and embed the tools you are using.
Follow these 3 rules for success
What do you bring to the party?
I always try to turn up to the party in my best frame of mind. Like if you were attending a real life party, no one wants someone at their party who is miserable or moaning about all the terrible things happening. There is room for that in life, but it’s not at the party (unless that’s what you are building your personal brand around, of course!). My best frame of mind is a bit like turning up in my best party dress, shiny accessories and best shoes, and my happiest self on show. In social media/online terms, my best self is about bringing to the party a sense of enthusiasm about being there, a hope of the connections that can be made, and a willingness to share positively with my community.
I like being a beacon for those around me. What I want to bring to the party is a sense of opportunity and possibility. A reminder that practically, it is possible. A sharing of the resources that shows, in fact this is the case (social media case studies, links to interesting and useful material). I’m not the person who wants to be first. I want to share useful information, and I know my best self isn’t being the person who shares first. To share first, you usually need the contacts and the breadth for people to know you’re the first one out there with something significant.
You can add your unique slant.
You may not be the first to use social, but you can add your unique slant for yourself and your personality (whether that personality is yours alone, or part of a wider brand you work for). Your unique slant is made up of a huge combination of factors that you can tweak until you find the right mix that really gets across what you want to be known for. It comes from your background, your education, the work you do, the work you’d like to do, the sense of flow you have, the topics you want to be known for, the reason you are using social media, your learning style, your communications style. And much, much more!
Don’t announce it. Try it, play with it, enjoy it.
Sometimes we get caught in thinking we have to announce what “it” is. The being you, and your unique viewpoint, will come both from your knowledge of the subject, your engagement with it and what you believe you want to say. You don’t have to announce that out loud, although you can if you like working that way. You can start small, on the edges. You can just start weaving more of that unique viewpoint into the way you write. Get comfortable with it, and question yourself to see what will help you bring out more of it in the way you work.
Not being yourself right now?
If you feel you’re just stuck in the crowd. Stop and take a deep breathe. Close your eyes. Reconnect with what the very best of you is. What you’d like to be known for. For the legacy you’d like to be behind. For what is at the very heart of the way that you work. And then get that out in the world.