By Scott Weighart, Director of Learning & Development  

A lot of people aren’t doing much with social media because they don’t know what to write.  It really starts with what NOT to write.  

A few years ago, I met a talented “solopreneur” who is very good at what she does. Around that time, I had some good email exchanges with her.  I had some questions on her area of expertise, and she was really helpful. We ended up connecting on Facebook.

However, over the next year or so I started to notice something very interesting about her communication strategy—or lack thereof—on Facebook. On the surface, her posts were probably just a brain dump of whatever was “top of mind” for her at the moment.  But as I read between the lines, it seemed that 90% of her posts had four different themes:

  • “Bask in my brilliance as a great person in my profession who is so much better than others”

  • “Let me tell you my latest tale of woe of how incredibly difficult it is to make it as a solopreneur”

  • “I’m dying to share with you a story of something stupid that someone else in my field did, underscoring not so subtly how smart and superior I am to them”

  • “I have new stuff available to buy, and it’s great!”

After reading these types of posts for several months, I felt myself internally sagging whenever I flipped through my phone to see all those Facebook status updates from various friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances. I would shudder when her name came up.  “Oh no” I would think, “What’s going to be the latest litany of complaints or chest thumping over some minor accomplishment?”

As you can imagine, I ultimately “unfriended” her to spare myself from having to read this stuff.  It also made me realize at how differently I react when I read status updates or tweets from some other online contacts.  Here are some themes that really work for me as a social media reader:

  • “Here’s a really provocative, interesting article that I wanted to share with you.

  • “Here’s a funny observation or a counterintuitive take that I have about something relevant to you in the world today.”

  • “I’ve got a concise thought about my area of expertise that will really make you stop and think differently about a topic that interests you.”

  • “I wanted to share a little story with you that will entertain, challenge, or move you emotionally.”

That’s a pretty different list of themes, isn’t it?  With that in mind, here’s a good question to ask yourself: What’s my social media subtext?

By social media subtext, I mean the underlying, implicit message that your post, tweet, or blog is sending intentionally or unintentionally.  Do people care about what you’re sharing?  You need a communication strategy for social media.  Those “top of mind” brain dumps can be dangerous to your online relationships.

To put it another way, there’s a lot of noise out there in the world of social media.  Be the signal.

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