I’m a no0b. At least that’s what my teenage son says about “gamers” who don’t know the ropes when he’s talking smack to them on X-Box Live. And, just to tell you how much of a no0b I am, when I let my children see the title of this post, in which I spelled it “Newb”, they laughed hysterically and said “Dad, you don’t spell it that way, come on, it’s spelled “no0b” (that’s right, apparently you have to use the zero or you are showing that you are, in fact, a no0b. Wow, who would have ever imagined that the “gamer” subculture and, I suppose, the teen subculture, would put such significance on the spelling of such a silly word. But they do, and speaking of such cultural phenomenon …
A little over two weeks ago this no0b had never sent a Tweet or written a Blog but I made a commitment to learn what I could about social media and then put it to use. I had to. As Develop Socially (www.developsocially.com) recently posted, social media is where the audience of the future is: “Those 25 and over account for 84 percent of Twitter users, and the fastest-growing demographic for Facebook is people over 35. More than 5 billion pieces of content, such as videos, blog posts and outside links, are shared on Facebook every week.” Justin Brackett, Building Your Brand With Digital Media: 5 Easy Steps, Develop Socially (February 7, 2011), http://www.developsocially.com/post/3164362448. So the question is, DO YOU WANNA GET LEFT BEHIND? I certainly do not. Last week I blogged about what I learned during my first week (http://shawnetuma.com/2011/02/09/what-i-learned-first-week/) and I hope you saw it but, well, unless you were one of the 40 or so total views (most of which were probably my own), I am not holding out much hope. But that’s ok, I know this one will pique your interest and all six of you who read this will go and read that one too! So, here you go, the following are a few of the highlights of what I have learned about social media over the past week (or so):
1. You Have to Give Some of It Away
A few weeks ago I read an article that was shared by (or perhaps authored by) one of the people I mention in the last paragraph of this post but I cannot for the life of me find the article or the blog to give proper credit. But, if it was you, you know it – send me the link and I’ll gladly revise this to give people the source because it was great and I want to share it! Nonetheless, the lesson was that you can’t just expect for people to find you and start paying for whatever it is that you are peddling out of the blue — you have to give a little of it away for free, like a sample, if you want them to come back for more. And let me tell you, you had better believe that this works! This lesson has really stuck with me and I will explain why, in the context of how it came about that on Wednesday, February 2, 2011, I set up www.shawnetuma.com and posted my first blog.
There is a lady named Martha Newman who is a lawyer coach known as the “Top Lawyer Coach” (her website is http://www.toplawyercoach.com) and if you are a lawyer, I suggest that you follow her on Twitter @gainyourgoals. If there is any one person who is responsible for my finally getting my website / blog up and running, it is Martha. You see, as I sat enjoying the snowy weather that here in the Dallas area a few weeks ago (yeah – Super Bowl week) and checking out LinkedIn connections, I got a very kind email from Martha and we began a dialogue over the course of several emails. Before I knew it, I was getting one heck of a coaching session from her even though I hadn’t paid her a dime for her services. As a result of her motivation, I got enough fire in me to do more than just send out LinkedIn connections and I got to work. I was on a mission! As I worked on my new WordPress site, Martha sent me emails on how to find a nice theme, optimize my site for traffic, add various widgets, and countless other things–all for free! Over the course of the day I put together the site and was so motivated I even managed to get a blog posted (you know, the one I mentioned earlier–the one you haven’t read … yet), and Martha even gave me comments on that too. Now understand, Martha’s stock in trade is her time and advice which begs the question, “why would she give it away for free?” Perhaps because she’s read the book Raving Fans as she now has another one– one who is so impressed by her that he’ll go out and blog about what she did for him. Moreover, when it comes time for me to seek out the services of a professional lawyer coach and pay for the services, who do you think will be the first person I call?
After reading one of Samantha Collier’s blog posts, I looked up her profile on LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=52250246&authType=name&authToken=UwCs&trk=api*a115291*s123774*) and found the following very telling status update: “I auto unfollow those that auto DM me on Twitter”. I LOVE IT! (and wish I could figure out how to do that myself). While I can only speculate about Samantha’s thoughts behind the statement, to me it reflects what I believe to be a very important component of social media: sincerity. I say this from experience.
One of the first things I noticed about some of the very reputable bloggers was that when I “followed” them own Twitter, they always have the courtesy of responding with a genuine message thanking me for following them. Because of this, I realized right away that while social media may give you the ability to reach the masses, it should be treated as a true interactive dialogue between real-life people with the customary courtesies one would expect in such a dialogue. Following the old adage of, “when in Rome do as the Romans do”, and in keeping with generally trying to be a nice person, I tried to develop the same habit of saying hello to people and thanking them when they follow me own Twitter. After a few days of doing this, I had a local business follow me and that business happens to be within walking distance of my office so I sent a personal “thank you”, commented on the close proximity of our offices and asked a genuine question to start a friendly dialogue. Funny thing is, the reply to my message was the most off-the-wall, irrelevant and inapplicable thing I had ever read! So, of course I had to respond with a friendly yet pointed comment as to the lack of genuineness of their reply … I suspect they didn’t appreciate it as there was no response to my message but hopefully they’ll see that “auto” or “canned” messages really don’t do that much good in helping you make true connections with people via social media. Who knows, but I did my part and my conscience feels better for it!
Why do I waste time with this story? Because Samantha’s comment and this no0b’s first “auto” experience highlight an important point that is explained on Mashable (www.mashable.com). “Social media is not a business press release and companies need to be constantly cognizant of having an authentic voice and not sounding like a corporate bot that’s devoid of any real emotion.” Dermot McCormack, Mashable (February 8, 2011) http://mashable.com/2011/02/07/strengthen-social-media-voice/. Exactly! Be genuine and really dialogue with others – remember, the name here is social media – the “social” part is there for a reason. This is about being social with others via these methods of media – by communication, dialogue, discussion. If you think all you’re going to do is put yourself out there and take the Lightning McQueen attitude of “hey, here I am world, just sit back and enjoy”, then this isn’t going to work out so well for you. Remember, one of my premises about social media is that it allows others to sift their way through the b.s. and see who you really are. Therefore, if you want to be successful you have to interact with others. Oh, and speaking of letting the world see who you really are …
3. Don’t Be A Jerk!
My no0b opinion is that one of the great things about social media is that it allows you as a person to come through to others by your online personality and the manner in which you treat other people online. And that is a great thing unless you happen to be a jerk and just can’t help but offend people no matter where you are!
I recently read an interesting article highlighting this point that is entitled Is Your Low Social IQ Dooming Your Blog? (Jennifer Gresham, Copyblogger, http://www.copyblogger.com/low-social-iq/) in which Jennifer explains why it is so important for people using social media to have good interpersonal skills and that is, in essence, because the people you are communicating with are people – real live people! “Successful bloggers build the confidence of their readers, not just themselves. They create rapport by making readers feel valued, one person at a time.” Hopefully you have this skill and Jennifer spells out five criteria to look at for “sizing up” whether you do or don’t have a high Social IQ. If you don’t, there may still be help for you … maybe, as she goes on to give some tips on how to improve in this area. If you simply can’t do it and cannot help but be a jerk, no matter what, let me redirect you somewhere else: http://www.yellowpages.com/. Assuming as true the premise that social media fosters the development of a report between you and others who may be prospective clients or customers, if the real you happens to be a jerk you may want to hand off the social media work to a colleague as you’ll end up getting hosed here.
4. Be Friendly!
At the opposite end of the spectrum from the jerk, we get to friendliness. Friendliness goes a heck of a long way in social media just as it does in most other areas of life. I’ve experienced this firsthand with three real “bloggers” that I follow and have gotten to know via Twitter.
I have to be honest, when I first “followed” them I was intending to do nothing more than learn from what they posted but never have any real dialogue with them as these people have thousands of followers. Over the course of a couple of weeks, however, I have learned that these are three of the nicest and friendliest people I have ever met – in person or virtually! They have been very encouraging and helpful with some of my first blog posts and, oh, by the way, all of the articles that I am referring to in this post, while not necessarily written by them, were shared by them and that is how I discovered the articles. So thank you, friends!
And, here is my suggestion to you: if you want to meet some really cool people who readily share great advice and have great conversations, go to Twitter and follow them and get to know them: Justin Brackett @JustInTheSouth, Ingrid Abboud @nittyGriddyBlog, Samantha Collier @samtaracollier. Also, if you happen to be a lawyer who would like to learn a little more about lawyer coaching please get in touch with the Top Lawyer Coach because, if it were not for her encouragement on that snow day, I probably wouldn’t be sharing this with you right now.