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.