I’ve been on social media since 2005 when I first joined LinkedIn, a time that if you invited someone to connect, you were definitely seen as a stalker. Ha! Thankfully things have changed a tad since then 🙂
I joined Twitter in 2007 and like a lot of folks, for a while there I simply didn’t get it.
I dropped in and out of Twitter for a time before taking it more seriously, I reckon around 2008-09. The next four to five years were the ‘golden years’ of the platform, when it truly was a supportive community of interesting people: before the bots, trolls and political apparatchiks (and marketers!) moved in and trashed the joint.
Twitter still provides plenty of value, but it needs more work these days (and you need to develop a serious filter too!).
I snuck on to Facebook too in those early days (early enough to score my own name for the Facebook URL), and Instagram came some time later, but LinkedIn and Twitter have definitely been my mainstays over the journey, and continue to be my ‘one-two punch’ today.
Rules of the road
From those early days when I started taking social media seriously, I began to develop my ‘rules of the road’ for using the socials.
These ‘rules’ evolved as I explored the various platforms and gained first-hand experience at the social coalface. Plus I read a lot, chatted to heaps of people ‘in the know’, and observed the early-day social media thought leaders from the virtual sidelines.
These rules have stood the test of time and, I believe, remain relevant today.
My overarching sound-bite advice to people wanting to get the most out of social media has always been: “be nice, play fair and add value”. These represent three of the 11 rules I set down in those early years.
Interestingly, they don’t just apply to the online world: they’re handy attributes to have in the physical world too!
So without further ado, for what it’s worth here are those rules of the social media road:
Have an opinion.
Recommend good people.
Be interesting AND interested (in others) and you can’t go wrong!
But let’s go a bit deeper.
I’m kicking off the new year by getting back to basics with my content and what I’m doing on social media and other online publishing platforms. I’m finding it a worthwhile exercise.
When you’ve been doing content and social media for a while, a key challenge is to keep things fresh and your enthusiasm up. I’ve always felt getting back to basics helps in this regard.
So, with this in mind, here are my two big ‘back-to-basic’ tips I reckon are worth keeping in mind as you continue to build your brand and your business on LinkedIn and other social channels in 2022.
👏 Get more personal on social media
Get out amongst it. Get involved as you – be human, be yourself.
There are too many crafted, scripted people clogging up social media. Don’t be one of them. The business world is already too guarded and devoid of personality. It doesn’t work today, and most certainly will be even less effective in tomorrow’s post-covid world.
If we want to cut through with our communications – which, as business owners and professionals we all need to do, with passion and purpose! – then we need to become less guarded and more open. We need to wholeheartedly embrace of the social web and all it represents, and this means showing a bit of yourself.
Peel off a few layers of your personality: this is what will help you connect more emotionally with people online.
There are three aspects to being on social media:
PROFESSIONAL is personal branding 101: what’s the story and the message you want to convey through your content and conversations on social media? How are you going to show up and position yourself professionally?
PERSONAL is all about adding a few layers of humanity. This is the secret sauce of social media (okay, okay … it’s not that secret 🙂 This is about taking people behind the scenes of your business (Joyce Ong from Tax Nuggets Academy does this brilliantly); telling personal stories that provide context for an important lesson you may have learned during your career; or reporting from an industry event you are attending. N.B. I’ve skewed these business and professional because a lot of readers are probably focused solely on LinkedIn; for the likes of Twitter and Instagram (and TikTok if you’re brave!) – you can inject a lot more fun and personality into your posts because that is what works best on those channels. Even if you use Twitter for business, doubling down on personal stuff (i.e. selfies at the football, photos of an impending storm, videos of a soufflé that went horribly wrong) will go down a treat with your followers.
PRIVATE is your ‘no-go zone’. Only you can map out where the boundaries are, but I suggest you figure this out as it will give you confidence to open up a bit more on social media. There are some things you probably don’t want to talk about on social media: work out what they are, and keep them private.
Of course, each platform is different. There is a current trend on LinkedIn at the moment for some people to get very deep and meaningful with their posts. This works for some people and they’re comfortable with doing so, while others shudder at the thought of sharing so much private stuff. Same with Twitter and the conversations you enter into: set your boundaries of what topics you don’t want to discuss on the platform
👊 Deliver value more often than not
Rather than use social media and online media channels solely to ‘push our message’, try to – at least 80 per cent of the time – deliver genuine value without the expectation of getting anything in return.
The key here is “without the expectation of getting anything in return”. Forget ROI. There. I said it. By all means, analyse what’s working for you on social media and sharpen your focus so it works for you professionally, and for your business. But in terms of but in terms of measuring a multitude of metrics for every social post you publish, I’d advise against it. For any paid social activity you might do, absolutely, go nuts. You want your campaign to yield specific results.
But for your organic social efforts, free yourself up to be useful and helpful: be interesting, provide insights, provoke thought, float ideas, promote your peers. The right audience will appreciate the value you bring to the virtual table; they’ll take notice of you and your content and hopefully over time begin to better understand who you are, what you do and stand for (and importantly, over time they’ll likely be more receptive to your sales message if and when you run the odd promotional post).
We are now each our own media channel, with an ever-increasing number of ways to communicate directly with the people who matter most to the success of our business, cause or issue.
But we must not abuse that ‘power’ to simply push the corporate line or brand message – that rarely works if it’s too calculating and overt – but rather, to add genuine value to the ecosystem we’re trying to be a part of, to the audience we want to serve.
Ask yourself: How can I add value to my ‘digital neighbourhood’ today?
I hope you’ve found these ‘rules of the road’ helpful in deciding how you want to show up on social media in 2022. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!