My Social Media Isn’t Your Social Media

The greatest thing in going out and meeting new people is that they are always a wonderful reference in showing you where you are with your thoughts, and teaching you that their thoughts aren’t your thoughts.

This is something that we all of course know in the basic level, but don’t often remember it before we again find ourselves in a situation where someone is acting differently that we usually would.

This is crucial for us so-certain-of-everything social media professionals to understand. People tend to use social media services differently and there’s really not a one real way to do things. It’s also creative and refreshing to speak with different people about them using social media, because you always hear about new ways you haven’t thought before – some are ‘good’ and some not that good.

So, instead of telling people how, we should make them more often ask the question why. Why do you do certain things with certain services in social media? And the reason cannot be simply “because one has to be there”.

This eventually comes to the need of having a strategy, which I think is as important with one’s personal success as with company’s. In these speedy times we tend to forget the reason, the goals behind our actions.

Here’s a simple checklist of thoughts to think while surfing in the wave of social media. These aren’t specifically social media related. I believe these are things that everyone who wants to achieve something should once in a while to ask themselves.

What am I trying to achieve with my current actions?

If I’m posting to my corporate Twitter account about how I’m “Doing a project”, does anybody care, really?

But posting “Contemplating a project for teaching #e-learning in rural schools in #Africa” instead [and maybe even using hashtags for helping people easier to find these topics], tells much more about you and your intentions and people who might be interested about e-learning and Africa might find you and start follow you – and if you are lucky, want to ask you more about these things. So remember to tell more about that issue in the future.

How’s my message?

We tend to sound different to ourselves than to other people. Ask someone, your friend, your partners, your customers or your mom; How do I seem/sound/feel like to you?

But once again, it’s up to you do you listen or not. Not everyone’s opinion matter and if you feel like your doing the right moves, stick with them.

Continuity (i.e. sticking with the story)

We are living in a story based society, or at least that’s what they are telling us everywhere. In a way that’s true and has always been with human beings from the dawn of times, but one has to really think what’s the story to tell.

One of the biggest benefits of continuity in your messages is that people tend to remember patterns better, instead of just single portions of different information. Also message that is lined with the previous ones “adds up” to the story being built – with a word “story” I don’t necessarily mean something fake or invented by the Creative Department.

How does being social benefit me?

What is the benefit of you blogging? Does it relieve your creative ambitions, is it just for fun, do you want to share your thoughts about your field of profession or show how good picture you can take?

If you can’t find any reason at all, you should really ask is blogging for me? But, here one should be cautious: It doesn’t necessarily mean that blogging is useless for you if you can’t think why to do it.

Search the web, what other people in your field of interest or profession are doing, ask your friends who are “socially fluent” so or ask a professional.

Use common sense

If you don’t know what to do in the web in some situation, ask yourself, how would you act in real life?

I’ve now faced a couple of times questions like “Who should I recommend in LinkedIn?” or “Should I go comment to someone’s blog if they have said something about me or about my company?”.

Think these in terms “Would I recommend this person in my normal life, is he or she worth it, do I really know her enough?” or “Do I want to show as a company that I care what people say about me?” and if it’s something good they’ve said “How would I feel if a company that I have praised in my blog would all of a sudden thank me directly in my blog?”.

Be polite

The web is currently a place easily get kicked in the head for small things or even nothing. But those who will answer to this kind of behavior with politeness and reason, are those to eventually survive another day. The web has a long memory and people are often more forgiving than people even consider themselves to be.

Like I wrote in the beginning of this post, if you can invent X variations of how to use social media tools, listening to others may get you to a whole different place, 10 times. So why not learn from others.

ManageMe 2.0 of the information flood era

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Image by Taiger808 (Licence)

I wanted to share my thoughts on how to manage your time and presence with what the web x.0 can offer in this era of huge information flood; we are at the same time trying to read the news of the world [hopefully people still care about these], our professional news, news of our hobbies [there can be many different branches here], updates from social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, new videos from services like YouTube, the list is as endless as one’s imagination and need to feed. So how to manage all this and get the best out of it in a way that you can have a life too?

If you are like me; always searching new interesting things and also sometimes finding them even without searching, you most likely are facing this same problem, the feel of spilling a glass too full.

For the start, I can say this: there’s no way to get them all. You will miss information and sometimes you will miss your friends ‘My dog is sick’ status updates but hey, who cares? The circle of web is continuous and tomorrow you have new things again. This is the first thing you have to comprehend.

Another thing is what really makes the difference to you. What’s really important and what you enjoy? You can subscribe to a hundred blogs, but is it really necessary to fill your RSS Reader too much if the things these people write aren’t that useful to you. So learn to separate what is useful information and what is just echoing. Today there was listed 208,559 bloggers only in the WordPress’ frontpage. It’s not odd if you can loose yourself in this.

But what are the tools to manage the rest of it, e.g. the social services so that you can access them more rapidly? It’s all about management. iGoogle and Netvibes are good examples for this. I used to use iGoogle but two weeks ago just happened to try out Netvibes and am now hooked – and that’s why I’m using it here as an example.

In Netvibes you can group things for example like Gmail, Twitter feed and your most interesting feeds under different tabs which you can name, let’s say as ‘News’ or ‘My Social Sites’. This already saves you some time when you don’t necessarily have to browse and access to each of your accounts one by one.

Same applies to news – this I find as one of the most relaxing things. I want to keep myself updated about things that happen in the world and in the web. I have to and need to do this if I want to be better at my work, have more perspective on things that happen in the world and have overall something to say to other people. But I don’t have the time to read every printed newspaper or even visit their sites. So what to do?

Let’s say you’re interested in economics and business. In my Netvibes I have a tab called ‘Business’ where I have a couple of feeds from business-related blogs that I have found useful. In this same tab I also have a couple of Netvibes widgets and feeds for news sites like Kauppalehti, Financial Times and Newsweek.

I used to have, okay, still have, my Google Reader filled with RSS feeds from too many sites that I can’t possibly read because it would take too much time. This kind of management helps me to glance today’s interesting topics [e.g. news] more easily and maybe catch up some cool and interesting thoughts from bloggers, all this in the same page. And grouping things like this help you concentrate on the same topics more efficiently.

This same way-of-effectiveness applies to microblogging. Although I have to say that most of the time I use Twitter through Tweetdeck, but at the same time I have a tab in Netvibes where I have my Twitter feed, a couple of Twitter search widgets with different search terms and a Tweetmeme widget. This way I believe I maximize the power of using Twitter.

There is of course a lot more that you can do with services like these, and I don’t want to list here everything that I have in my Netvibes. The message of this post was more like ‘There is hope to tame the flood to your advantage AND have a life too’.

Hopefully this post is going to be helpful to people and if you have your own way of interesting web management that you want to share, please do. I’m always eager to hear other experiences.