Can you see the P’s and Q’s in Social Media?

Santa on laptop

That time of year is once again upon us where we dig deep; we generate a list of ‘MUST’ buys and exhaust our bodies and our savings to celebrate the ‘BIG DAY‘. We cook for each other, drink with one another and push our bodies to belt-stretching gluttony. But, why is this?

It’s something that’s been instilled in us from an early age. The festive period is a time for giving and receiving, sharing and celebrating. It’s a time which should bring us closer together, not always physically – sometimes spiritually. We visit that certain someone, we pick up the phone, we send a card, send a gift, and through almost every single interaction there’s an underlining connection; two simple words in acknowledgement of the kind gesture that you’ve shared or received – thank you.

I’d like to think that manners is something else that’s been drummed into us all from the moment we’re able to communicate our first words. When my daughter Jessica first started to mutter words to me I would encourage her to say ‘please’ whenever she asked for something and ‘thank you’ whenever she received what she’d asked for. Admittedly those words were more like “peeeeez” and “taaaaaa” but she soon grasped the concept and now, at nearly 2 and a half, she projects her manners beautifully.

As we approach the final leg of this festive run-in I’ve started to think about our behaviours and draw on the similarities I’ve observed around Social Media. I used to enjoy the high street, especially around Christmas, but it’s become more like a contact sport. Some people enjoy the tussle, the noisy crowds, the danger of being trampled upon, and the ecstasy of the purchase. But it’s not for me. The ill manners, more specifically, started to get to me. The pushing and shoving, lack of door holding or non-thanks for your efforts, really started to grind on me. So I now take the easy option and work through the majority of my list online.

Don’t get me wrong I haven’t given up on the high street. I’m happy to put my hand in my pocket when visiting towns, villages and seaside resorts – there’s something really special about visiting those quaint little shops, but at this time of the year I don’t think the high street can compete with the online checkout.

FB thanks

And whilst online I also feel I have a duty of attention to our social communities. I have accounts in a number of channels. If you’re a friend of mine on my personal Facebook you’ll notice I make every effort to wish every single one of my 600+ buddies a happy birthday, every year. Some of these people I haven’t seen since I was at school but it’s something instilled into my very nature to do this. If we’re connected through my twitter you may notice the fact that almost every interaction I get is recognised with a thank you. A follow, a mention or a retweet; I appreciate all of these gestures and feel it is only right to express my gratitude. And if you leave me a comment on my blog I’ll always endeavour to leave you a response. This is me, it’s what I do.

So whilst we’re all getting into the spirit of Christmas this month lets also get into the spirit of social interactions. There’s no cost to you for expressing a little manners – just a little of your time – but think about the promotion and the praise that last person has just given you and where it could lead to. We’ll never completely eradicate the trolls and the haters in social media but isn’t it a nice thought that we could drown the noise from these ‘unwanted’ with the compliments and pleasantries we share with one another.

2012 is the first year I can say I’ve been genuinely active on Social Media and if there’s one heartfelt lesson I can take away from it all it’s this; our online social communities are all about engagement. Paul Taylor is the no.1 advocate for this in my opinion – a true digital champion (give him a follow if you don’t already). Not only does he bring a wealth of knowledge, experience and common sense to Social Media, he also brings personality, sense of humour and heaps of appreciation. It’s a great balance to his character and he has qualities we could all take something from.

So whilst Father Christmas waits in the wings to bring a bundle of presents to your communities (and I sincerely hope he does), have a think what presence you can bring within your digital communities. You have a wonderful opportunity to present yourself and your organisation within Social Media, to be an ambassador in your own digital realm, so make the experience a pleasant and social one for each and everyone.

Have a safe and a happy holiday and I’ll see you in 2013!

Andy

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Think inside the box!

Just recently leadership took on a whole new meaning for me when I realised a certain someone started to watch my every move, they were repeating things I’d say but not always doing as I’d ask of them. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about a disruptive colleague – in fact, this person doesn’t even reside in my workplace.

At 08:32 on Monday, 5th July 2010 I became a father to the most beautiful creation on the planet; Jessica Rose. Since taking on this new heir of responsibility I’ve watched with admiration how she has grown and developed over the last couple of years – from drinking that first bottle to taking her first steps; nothing comes close to the sense of pride I get from these milestones – all of which came from the nurturing between my wife Julia and me.

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But, as with all relationships they are a two way thing and I’m learning lots from Jessica as she is from me. There is something we can all learn from the way children think; they know no boundaries. We all share the same stories at Birthdays and at Christmas time when the giving of presents results in a young child being more likely to play with a box than with its contents, but why is this?!?!

Children are not bound to a set of rules that would come with a toy; it goes forward, it goes backwards; this goes here, that goes there; it turns on, it shuts off. A child’s natural inquisitive nature tells them to look at the bigger picture, to take a step back and look at their surroundings. What is it that’s actually before them? That brown cardboard frame that housed the expensive toy you just brought for them is more than just a box; it’s a den, it’s a train; it’s a house; a castle! The toy they have just unwrapped hasn’t gone to waste, they’ve just found a much better way to enjoy it – that we hadn’t thought of!

I recently heard a story how Disney’s Chief Imagineer kept trying to convince a room full of board members how it feels to be close to animals on safari – he was trying to sell an idea to them that would eventually unfold into what we know as Disney’s Animal Kingdom. After a number of failed meetings, unsuccessful presentations and countless heated discussions, he had one final go to convince the jury; he took a tiger into the meeting room!

How could we use this realness principle for our new ideas or service improvements?We all need to get more creative. We need to be radical in our approach. We need to throw out the rulebook. Take down the boundaries. We need to get inside the box!