I firmly believe social media is one of the best tech inventions to hit planet earth in the past 100 years.
Social media has allowed people to connect with other people thousands of miles away. It’s been used to further the common good in the world, and is a great tool to help strengthen relationships. It’s also given companies and organizations to build relationships with their customers/audiences all over the world. (Just to name a few of the many social media uses.)
Many people disagree with me, though. They think Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks are a waste of time. These people think they ruin friendships, rather than bring people together. For these people. social networks seem to cause more trouble than more good.
But I would argue that a big reason why people don’t like social media is because they don’t understand that it’s a tool, and they don’t know how to use the tool the way it was meant to be used.
Take a hammer, for example. A hammer is a tool. You use a hammer to build stuff: houses, buildings, playgrounds, etc. But what if someone took a hammer and threw it through your window? Would you get mad at the hammer and call it stupid for what it did?
No, you’d get mad at the person who used the hammer wrongly. The hammer – the tool – isn’t the problem, the person misusing the tool is the problem.
The same is true with social media.
One BIG reason people don’t like social media is because they’ve seen the tool used wrongly by other people. The reason for that abuse is that people don’t know how to properly use social media – the tool.
I’ve had several people ask me for advice on how to use social media properly and effectively, so I decided to write this post as a response/reference tool for their questions.
Listed below are the 10 commandments of social media: how to properly use social media so that it is used to help yourself and other people, rather than cause problems. There is MUCH more I could say about this, and maybe I will in the future.
I hope you find these tips/commandments/advice helpful. Please let me know in the comments below if there is anything else you’d like me to cover.
1. Know Your Goals
- What are you hoping to accomplish with social media? Deeper friendships? Snagging special deals and discounts from companies? Getting to know your customers better? Knowing what you are trying to accomplish on social media will help you have better focus, which will help you initiate more so you can accomplish your goals. As Zig Ziglar said, “if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” Make sure you know what you are aiming for.
2. Don’t Only Talk About Yourself
- This one is VITAL! No one likes being around someone who only talks about themselves. People who do so are self-centered and consumed with only themself. This is ANNOYING, and pretty soon people will start ignoring you. This is true in person, and online. Yes, it is ok to talk about your life. Just make sure you’re not ONLY talking about your life and nothing else.
3. Be Generous and Give
- How do you give online? By sharing other people’s content that you enjoyed reading, thanking someone who has helped you, promoting a brand you like and/or person who has helped you, encouraging someone else, and any other creative ways you can think of. You may be pleasently surprised at how far giving goes. I once thanked an author for writing a book that I read, and he ended up sending me a free autographed copy of the book! Don’t be surprised if you see the favor returned in ways you never expected. (But don’t give just to receive, otherwise you’ll miss out on the pure joy of giving selflessly, and other people will detect your hypocrisy.)
4. Initiate Conversations With Other People
- Remember, social media is social. If you are only using social networks to promote yourself and push out your content, you are missing out on the pleasure of interacting with real human beings. Reach out and build friendships with other people and companies. That’s one of the new possibilities social media gives us now: to build relationships with people and companies/organizations that wasn’t possible before social media. (Both individuals and companies can use this to benefit others and themselves.)
5. Say Thank You
- Gratitude is a fantastic attitude because it reveals your heart. (And consequently, not being grateful also reveals your heart.) Gratitude shows the world whats in your heart: humility, appreciation, joy, positivity, and life. If someone shares your content and/or compliments you, say thank you. If spoken with sincerity, it will communicate a lot to the people around you.
6. Always Remember that Social Media is A Great Supplement to Relationships, but a Horrible Substitute
- If you try to replace your real, in-person, face-to-face relationships with one’s over the internet, you will be greatly disappointed. Nothing, I repeat, NOTHING, can replace real, face-to-face, in person relationships. Social media can enhance and strengthen relationships – it is a great supplement to relationships – but it cannot replace real relationships.
7. Have Something to Say
- We’ve all been in situations where we try to start conversations with other people, only to have that person give one word answers and then remain silent. Don’t be that guy. Talk, have meaningful conversations, ask people how they are doing, share helpful content, and reach out.
8. Shut Up and Listen
- I know this may seem to contradict what commandment #7 was, but it doesn’t. It’s just the other side of the same coin; the other half of the same apple (okay I know, that second analogy wasn’t that good.) Conversations consist of talking and listening. Do both, not just one or the other.
- There are so many social networks out there besides the main ones. (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, StumbleUpon.) Experiment with the major ones and with the less famous ones, depending on your goals. You might find that one social network is better for you and your goals than others. Or, you may discover a new feature on an existing platform that you never knew about. Experimenting is a great way to gain deeper knowledge about a particular social network.
10. Get Off the Computer and Go Live
- We need to remember to live in the real world, with real people, doing real stuff, and enjoying real life. The digital world is a great addition to reality, but it should never replace it. Let’s enjoy both real time and space and digital time and space. Don’t throw out or neglect one at the expense of the other. Too many people spend hours upon hours on Facebook, playing computer games, and watching YouTube Videos. Where does this lead them? Answer: nowhere. They end up doing nothing with their time except short-term entertainment. And some people completely reject social media because they don’t understand it, and so they miss out on many of the blessings, opportunities, and possibilities it offers. Do both. Remember to get off the computer frequently and go do something in the real world, with real people and real stuff. Not only is this a better way to live, it will also breathe inspiration and ideas into you when you come back to your computer.