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Real Social Media Relationships: Bringing Playground Skills to the Online World

Real Social Media Relationships: Bringing Playground Skills to the Online World


I met the love of my life in an airport. We were both at a layover on our way home, and apparently someone on our plane got sick on the landing. As we stood in line waiting for them to clean it up, and then waiting for a steam cleaning crew, and then finally waiting for them to bring a whole new plane, we got around to the subject of my number. He asked me out in a text as we waited for the “cell phones off” sign to go on. When my single girlfriends ask me how I met such a wonderful guy, I really don’t have a great answer for them—other than I am really good at connecting with random people.

Most of us have learned how to operate in the social world around us. My experience is that successful entrepreneurs are even better at this skill than the average person. Things like understanding social context and the unwritten rules of the space we are in. Listening and asking questions. Smiling and using body language. And artfully introducing what it is that we do so we don’t sound like a walking billboard.

This is why it has always baffled me that many business people take those hard-won social soft skills and leave them at the door of their office when they turn on their computer or open up their social media accounts on their phone.

Even people who interact well on their personal social media have trouble translating that into applicable skills in their business.

Part of what I do is help people (especially authors) find their voice online, and start talking and acting like real people on social media. So let me take an opportunity to give you a few guidelines for how to do it too. If you can nail this aspect of your business, you will find rapid growth becomes much easier, because you have easy access to a relationship with effectively the whole world – including the movers and shakers and your ideal client!

Talk to One Person

Regardless of how many fans, friends, or followers you have, use language as if you are speaking to just one person. The intimacy that is created by the types of words we choose, the personal pronouns, and even the topics, is vastly different when we can apply this. Yes, more than one person will see it. But if you want people to talk back to you, to respond, this type of behavior invites it.

Think about someone who is speaking from a stage. Unless he or she asks a direct question, the people in the audience sit and listen. On social media, engagement is essential. You want people to respond. So talk to them like you are sitting across a cup of coffee. Visualize a specific person if you need to. Rarely will someone ignore you in a one to one conversation.

Know Who That Person Is

So who is this person that you are visualizing talking to? That depends on the context. If you are having a one-to-one conversation via direct message or messenger, then do yourself a favor and Google that person so you can get a little background. You would never go up to someone with your eye shut and start talking. In the real world we see what they are wearing, some clues about things they like and their personality, and can often catch a conversation they are having with someone else before talking to us in order to give us context. We can do the same things online.

When creating content for your general social media, it is also important to know who you are talking to. Who is best served by what you have to offer? Maybe even more importantly, who has a pain point that you can solve? Can you talk to them in their own language about what their experiences are? Craft your content to reach out to only them. Visualize your favorite client as a good place to start.

Be Aware of Where You Are

When you are at a funeral, the bar with friends, your aunt’s house for dinner, or at home with your dog, you change how you communicate. You wear different clothes, you use different word choices, you pick different topics of conversation. This is not because you are not being who you really are at each place, it is because you understand the impact of cultural environments. It is the same online. What is a great topic on Twitter may not be appropriate on LinkedIn. All those hashtags that rock on Instagram may not work so well on Facebook. Getting to know the culture of the online space you hang out is essential to success. Ask yourself some questions. Is this space formal or informal? Why are users coming here in the first place? What content or experience are they looking to get? How do conversations best happen here? Is this a very public or very private format?

Use Your Best Smile

Yes. Smile! Your smile is one of the most powerful tools of connection you have online and offline. Online it can take the form of your profile picture (your smiling face please, not a logo, a faraway picture, or your dog). It can also take the form of well-placed emojis. Those expressions help to humanize the online experience. Even as a business, don’t feel like you can’t use some smiley faces to get your point across.

Be You

For some reason, I caught the eye of the perfect man for me. And I wasn’t even trying! At the end of the day, I think that is the real secret, is to let your light shine. Care for others, see things from their perspective, and then bring your best to each interaction. Do that and you will always get the social media results you want.

Interested in reading 99 other stories just like this? Grab The Better Business book here.

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