I met with a pro-bono client the other day who had initially engaged me to talk about starting to use some social media tools. Once I learned more I realized what the organization really needed was to get a handle on what they were already doing and build that before trying something new. It reminded me of all the times I would try to do too much in school, or would get hungry and heap food onto my plate, and my mother would stop me and say, “Why don’t you get started on what you already have, and when you’ve made a dent in that see if you’re ready for more.” In social media speak, don’t jump onto Twitter if you haven’t figured out Facebook. Taking on too much at the start will leave you overwhelmed. Or gassy, if we go back to the dinner plate analogy.
2. If all you do is read the directions, you’ll never have a bookshelf.
OK, my parents never told me this, but it’s still valuable. I love the challenge of putting my own furniture together. When I come home with an IKEA box, I tear it open and jump right in with the directions nearby in case I get stuck. I’m a learn as I go type, so that’s how I do a lot of things. Like get started on Twitter or Foursquare. Some people like to do their research first and take more strategic moves. That’s cool, too. But don’t spend so much time trying to figure out the right way to do it that you don’t do it at all. Twitter, unlike a bookshelf, doesn’t have one right way to do it but either way nothing will get done if you never start.
3. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you have to.
That really doesn’t require more explanation does it? If you don’t think it’s right for you, it might not be right for you. No one ever died from not having a Facebook page.
4. Be yourself.
When you’re 14 and kids at school are giving you a hard time, it’s the last thing you want to hear. But by this point you probably have realized you’re happier and life is easier when you’re not trying to be someone you’re not. If you’ve done any reading about social media you’ll see a lot about transparency and honesty. Social media tools won’t work well for you if you’re not prepared to be both. That doesn’t mean Tweeting every time you fart (unless that’s your business model. Different strokes, my friend.) but it does mean that letting a little of yourself shine through will make for compelling content that people will want to come back to and engage with.
What life lessons have you learned that applied well to social media?