A small step in the evolution of social media happened over the new year when Rupert Murdoch joined Twitter and almost immediately, and predictably, he fell for some of the traps we all fall into when starting online.
While there’s still a nagging doubt as to whether the @rupertmurdoch account is real, despite the assurances of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, there’s a few lessons other new users can draw from Rupert’s experience.
Shut up and listen
One of the unfortunate things about social media is how everybody assumes their voice has to be heard. It’s a mistake we all make when we first join theses services.
Like social contexts, it’s best to be quiet when you first join until you’ve figured out the protocols, manners and dynamics of the group.
Just stumbling in and blasting your opinions out doesn’t usually work well whether we’re at the pub, mothers’ group, updating Facebook or posting on Twitter. The key is to understand why you are there.
It’s about community
The first word in social media is “social”, these online services are a society and just restricting your circle to a select few isn’t go to give you a great deal of benefit.
Rupert Murdoch’s account is a good example of how many people restrict themselves; at the time of writing he’s following five users. If it really is Rupert Murdoch behind the account, he’s missing some good and relevant stuff.
If the person behind the account is really a new user, then they are probably wondering what all the fuss is about as two of the five accounts they are following haven’t been updated in months.
Share the love
Retweeting, that is passing on interesting Tweets, makes your feed more useful. Of course you aren’t going to much material to retweet if you’re only following five people.
When you want to praise a book, website or something else make try to include a link so your followers can check it out too. Saying you’re proud of a Fox production without a click through is wasting your online affections.
Be careful what you say
Often people describe social media, particularly Twitter, as being like a bar room conversation. That’s kind of true if you’re in a bar where the entire world can listen into what’s being said.
If you’re going to diss an entire nation’s holiday habits, just be aware that some of those folk are going to hear about it.
What’s your objective?
Why are you here is a good question. Have you come to listen to customers, learn from industry leaders, spruik a product, find a job, catch up with the folks or be one of the online hipsters?
All of these and any other zillion objectives are perfectly valid reasons for joining a social media service. So listening and posting in ways that help your objectives makes sense, as does following the right people.
The whole point of using social media services – be it Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any of the other hundreds of online networking platforms – is to listen, learn and talk with your peers and the leaders of the areas you’re interested in. Perhaps you’ll even be considered a leader, as Rupert Murdoch certainly is.
Starting by listening and understanding how a social media service works and where it adds value for you will make using the site a far better investment of your time.