This week’s Maple Ridge Times Column focuses on the four top tips for online engagement and social media.
There is no question that the digital environment can be a challenging one and that sustaining a strong, effective social media presence for your business or organization requires a savvy combination of strategy and resources. Successful communication itself can be tricky enough without the added complexities of understanding the new norms and sometimes overwhelming expectations that are emerging as we move ever more completely into the online realm.
The good news is that successful navigation of the online world can be made easier by understanding a few common sense principles and practices. Although, as my mother says, “Common sense is less common than you think”, these four tips will help you stay in the game and maintain your sanity.
Stay real and maintain integrity:
A key principle and challenge in good social media practice is staying real in a virtual environment. As our mothers once admonished, ‘be yourself’. There is a high expectation of transparency in the digital world. Despite the seemingly endless examples of lurking, poaching and trolling, good practice dictates being up front and authentic about who you are and what value you have to offer. The environment is virtual. The relationships are real. One of the biggest assets you can have is personal integrity.
Mind your manners:
All social media platforms are guided by a similar set of cultural norms and etiquettes. In this arena, too, we can be guided by the wisdom of our mothers. Be polite. Say please and thank you. Compliment publicly and criticize privately. A few journalistic principles are helpful here, too. (We are, after all talking about social media.) Acknowledge your sources, attribute quotes, don’t plagiarize.
Stay focused and manage distractions:
Tech expert and Canada’s favourite geek, Steve Dotto of Dotto Tech reminds us that the internet is a place not a thing, and to be conscious of how much time we spend there. He advises maintaining awareness of the impact of the artificial urgency created by ‘instant communication’ and to stay focused on what matters and handle distractions. He warns that we can become addicted to responding and engaging 24/7 and the subsequent stress it can cause.
Turn off notifications while you are working on specific tasks, set aside blocks of time to reply to emails and texts and use timers or time management software to track and prioritize.
Take a break and get perspective:
I am a big fan of the digital detox. Sometimes you just need to get offline and reassess priorities and get perspective. Social media marketing maven, Rebecca Coleman concurs, especially when it comes to Facebook, where comparing our lives to the online lives of Facebook friends can result in ‘Facebook Envy’ and a serious case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Here’s what Rebecca had to say in a recent blog post: “Just get your head out of the game for a while, and…when you come back, you’ll feel like you have a bit more perspective on Facebookland.”
These four tips offer a strong foundation to build an effective online presence for you, your business or organization. In my recent podcast series, Everyday Happiness, I explore life in cyberspace in more detail and the how it is changing the way we relate and find happiness.