I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve written a comment on a profile update of some kind, or sent a (relevant) email to a person with a successful business, only to be treated with silence. This could be a woe-is-me commentary, but wallowing in self-pity doesn’t lead to constructive, actionable thoughts, so instead I’ll mainly focus on my own social-media strategy.
Does this concern those with a business only, by the way? No, definitely not! It can apply to anyone with an account in social media, because personal branding is just as important in our private lives as it is when interacting in professional contexts. The reason for my emphasising business in this blog post, however, is that for entrepreneurs and freelancers in particular, ignoring others can have unfortunate consequences in terms of sales. Let’s examine closer how we can put ‘social’ (back) in social media, and how this inclusion of others can be a desirable part of our business model and strategy.
Why is it called social media anyway?
I have no idea of who coined ‘social media’ and to investigate is beyond the scope of this post, but social media probably grew because people want to meet other people online, usually for a vast range of reasons.
If we go back to the first browser to show graphic content, Mosaic (remember rather ugly Netscape Navigator? yeah, so this was prior to that one), its popularity grew because people wanted images, not text only. And once they wanted images, they wanted reactions, and so on. The development seems organic and as expected if you ask me.
What most of us also have in common is the desire to show ‘our stuff’, whether it be just because or to attract customers and clients. And most of us also like the recognition, no matter how self-centered or ego-centered it might seem to admit it. The question is how much leash we give ourselves, though, before the scale tips over in ego-centered territory. Personally, I can’t but think of Maya Angelou’s quote.
I posted the quote on Instagram in May 2016 and if you crave more of these miniature philosophical moments, do follow me! You can also take a look at the hashtag I’m using for the purpose, #nkmquotes.
How does it feel to be excluded?
Like Angelou wisely said, I don’t recall all the details nor do I want to, but unfortunately my memory is good enough that I remember who has ignored my input. When I see the already established bunch ignore others than myself, it makes me want to step in and answer questions those other people have, help them when I can.
I actually do it sometimes, even when it might seem annoying, and on my own behalf I’m beginning to think I should mostly stop asking and commenting altogether on posts by others, because why bother with relevant questions when the author will sail past them? Being invisible isn’t very nice at all, is it?
A peculiar sidetrack of being ignored is when someone follows you in social media, only to unfollow you again once you’ve followed them. Do they seriously think nobody keeps track of anything online these days? There are follow apps available and if a person decides to go to such lengths to be rude, then there really is no reason to keep following them, is there? I wish I could put some kind of spell in true Hermione style on my follow buttons to have only genuine people add me, heh. I mean, that girl is a legend for her bag-packing skills alone, but I digress.
My strategy of inclusion
So, what should I do to remedy this on my own accounts? I can work on creating my own social, helpful and positive corner of the internet, where input is met as were it originating from a person of real flesh and blood, with a warm welcome.
Because unless you’re one of my hackers, who already are doing their best to get inside, you’re people, not ‘some random weirdo who bothers me and can’t look up stuff for themself’ (or in their case, some weirdo who needs to find something better to do with their skills).
If you ask a relevant question, obviously (no?) it’s relevant to reply as well. And if you’re complimenting my work, at least I can acknowledge the time you took out of your day to enhance mine.
Maybe I can’t respond to every comment separately, but for instance on my blog I can give a collective heads up that I’ve seen what a bunch of you posted. Instagram on the other hand makes it easy to batch reply by swiping several commenters’ usernames into the same reply.
Including others benefits rather than harms business
Without customers and clients there’s no business. When someone gives me feedback, I want to treat you like you’re a potential customer, perhaps a potential friend even. Maybe I’m too idealistic, but why not?
On my About page, the first thing you stumble upon is a quote by Mary Oliver asking “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”, and my reply in the context of ‘social’ media is that I want to make you feel like you’re seen.
If nobody else on this planet sees you today, then at least here on my website you can count on being seen. You matter, and if there’s anything I can do to improve your day, I will.
To me it seems like all those huge businesses tend to ignore the fact that some people live almost like hermits, even when they might be surrounded by millions of people in their cities, and when I have one of my blue times, it’s a better idea to head out into nature than to downtown Helsinki. Amidst trees and birds and other critters, next to the ever-changing sea, I feel less lonely despite being alone, and I never want to make you feel like you’re lonely when visiting my website. Okay? Okay.
I also happen to be an introvert, who gets exhausted from too much interaction, and recognise that there are numbers of others out there just like me for whom the internet makes everyday life a livelier place, since you can simply turn off the computer when having reached the end of your tolerance. So when you comment, it’s usually for a good reason. If later a great teamwork during coaching or courses develops, even better.
But what if there’s silence?
In other words, if there’s silence, it’s either due to a technical glitch, human error, or an unexpected personal emergency of some kind, so do post once again or head over to my Contact page. I might as well make this a promise right here and now, because that’s how important this is to me. Do check previous comments, though, because chances are your question has already been answered :)
To conclude, I hereby declare this website a place of inclusion, where respectful, kind comments are welcome and where hopefully friendships can be made over time. I want my interactions to matter, to make me a better person, and hopefully to be as meaningful to you in return. As long as I can remember, I’ve abhorred money for the sake of money, and I never want to lose the heart of my mission, but true balance and happiness is to be found in genuine interactions.
And now over to you. What kind of ‘social’ strategy do you have? Are you happy about it? Or do you think there’s reason to change it somehow? If yes on the latter question, can I help you brainstorm somehow? Post comments, I love them!