Avoiding a Social Media Disaster
A lot of people worry that if they start interacting online, they will run into trouble. Perhaps this isn’t surprising when you consider all the media coverage of people getting things wrong on social media.
However, it really isn’t that hard to stay out of trouble! Here are five rules to follow which should ensure you avoid Facebook foul-ups or Twitter tribulations.
1. Relentless positivity
In other words, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Even if you disagree with someone, respond in a positive way – so offer an alternative position, say, rather than criticising. It’s easy to snark and snipe, but it does little to build long term engagement and trust.
So be nice!
2. Don’t get involved in endless debates
Nobody, nobody, comes out of arguments on the internet looking good. Even if you know you are right, and technically win the debate, you still look like a loser. Seriously.
Make your point once, clearly. Maybe follow up if you feel you really need to. But to keep coming back over and over again looks a bit unseemly – even if for you it’s quite good fun.
Online arguments often happen on Twitter where, because of the limitations on the number of characters you can use, there’s even more opportunity for misunderstandings and boring people to death.
Don’t forget that when your constant stream of posts entailing why your views on an issue are right, and everyone else’s are wrong is clogging up lots of people’s Twitter pages, they’re likely to unfollow you pretty quickly.
3. Be yourself
It’s tempting to play a role on the internet - because you’re talking to people who probably don’t know you and perhaps never will. However, it’s best avoided. Be authentic, be yourself.
Firstly, because of the practical reason that it’s hard to keep up. At some point you’ll forget and the mask will slip, and you’ll look a bit weird to your regular followers.
Second, because when you are being yourself, the content you produce will be so much better than if you are either playing a role or deliberately distorting your character for whatever reason. It might be that you are restraining yourself from discussing things that aren’t related to your business, for instance. This is a mistake! By being authentic and talking about other bits of your life, you are presenting yourself as a well rounded human being, which will be more attractive to people.
4. Manage expectations
Getting active online, especially at the beginning, and when you first start to get some results, is very exciting!
You’ve just started up a blog, and in your enthusiasm, have written 7 posts in the last three days. It’s brilliant!
Only, on the fourth day, you can’t think of anything to write. The same is true on the fifth, and by the sixth you’re wishing you’d never started the blog and shut it down so you don’t have to think about it any more.
Instead, before you start, have a think and plan what you are going to do online. Write down a list of blog posts, or things you have coming up that you could tweet about, or mention on a Facebook page. Think about how long it will take to write all this stuff up, and if that’s likely to fit into your workload now, next week, next month and next year.
So even if you have enough material for 10 blog posts this week, it doesn’t mean you have to use it all. Or perhaps that you don’t need to write 500 words about each one. Start off at a pace you can maintain for the long term – in engagement terms it is better to be consistent than having peaks and troughs of activity.
5. If you have to think about it, don’t do it
If you’re writing, say, a tweet and you read it back and then think about whether you ought to post it – don’t post it.
If you’ve just written a blog post, and on consideration, you can see a way someone might misinterpret it – don’t post it.
If you’ve thought of something really funny to say on Facebook, but have a worry in the back of your mind that somebody might not get it – don’t post it.
Think about it – if you yourself can see there’s a possibility someone might not get what you’ve written, or who might get the wrong end of the stick, then there’s a good chance that will happen. So if you have even the slightest doubt – clear out that posting box and rephrase whatever it was you were writing. It’ll be worth it.
This article has been provided by Dave Briggs who runs Kind of Digital, an online innovation agency based in Spalding. You can read his blog at kindofdigital.com or connect with him on Twitter attwitter.com/davebriggs. His LinkedIn profile is uk.linkedin.com/in/davebriggs.