I’ll make no secret of the fact that I love a good party. I’d spent much of my late-teenage and early 20 years in many a concert, or festival, or nightclub dance-floors – I’d just love the coming together of like-minded party-goers, united under various guises but with a primary intention – to have a good time. But I would always say then, and stand by it now, that some of the best times I’ve had were the parties in peoples’ houses. Why? Because I’m a social person; I like to talk to and meet new people. I like to hear a few funny stories, learn a few things and get into some healthy debates! And I believe these parties are quite possibly the best place to do just this.
Social Media is no different. I see it as the digital equivalent. According to this report around 67 million of us in the UK are active on Facebook and Twitter. We like to be social online! We like to meet, greet, chat, laugh, learn, share – it’s the make-up of our digital communities. These comparisons got me thinking about the similarity of those house parties I used to attend and the different conversations that took place. So, I’ve decided to take you through a few of the rooms:
The Front Door
You’ve just arrived to the party so it’s most likely that you’re looking your best right now. This is your first opportunity to wow people and make that lasting first impression. I see similar tones that we apply to our LinkedIn profiles. We spend a great deal of time building our online résumé because our appearance is so important (think about that professional picture you have, the reputable job title and your catchy bio) knowing that people may, and will, judge you by this. (I’m still amazed that some people don’t place a face to their name on LinkedIn). So, get yourself comfortable with those initial first steps and once you start building a rapport with a few of your new connections and the compliments (recommendations) start flying around, you’ll soon be circulating within new groups and sharing some of your great stories!
The Living Room
“I’ve got this amazing story to tell you, pull up a pew”. This is the place where people give up the time to sit down and really listen to what others have got to say, to share in a few stories and chip in with a few thoughts of their own. It reminds me of blogging. Everyone has a story to tell but not all of us choose to share to a wider audience, some of us prefer to sit back and listen while others are happy to speak up. If you like what you hear you may want to join in on the conversation, similarly you may want to voice your opinion if you don’t like what you hear, but the great thing about story-telling is the tacit license you give people to share your message with others.
Stairway & Bathrooms
I’m on Facebook, and I like to dabble in and out of my account a couple of times a day, occasionally passing comment – but I don’t pour my heart and soul out on there! But, much like those moments at a party when someone feels the need to cry on someone’s shoulder and just ‘let it all out’, I can’t help but think about those people who feel the need to do that in Social Media – and more often that not Facebook seems the place that people choose to do just that! They share family photos (“ahh, how sweet”); tell you about their latest crush (“uhh, OK”); post pictures of their dinner (“Hmm”); what they’ve had to drink (“did you have too many?”); who annoyed them that day (“tell me more!”); what they’re wearing (“where’s that from?”); and what they’re not (“did I really need to know that!!!”); where they’re going (“I’m jealous”); where they’ve been (“ooh, me too!”); where they shouldn’t have been (”naughty!”); and what they got up too (“you did what!?!”). I do enjoy Facebook. I like to share updates of great places I’ve visited, something I’ve listened to and share the occasional picture of my family, but when people choose to share some of those personal stories with their 100’s and 1000’s of ‘friends’, I’d say to keep those to a more private space – like we do at these parties!
This is predominantly my favourite room of any party, not so much for my love of food but for the fact this is where the drink is! No seriously, I do find that most parties I go to get the biggest congregation in and around the kitchen – no real idea why but they do. So it may come as no surprise that this is the room that I see most closely connected to Twitter. This is the hub of my online activity. (Today is my 1st year twitter anniversary) It’s the easiest place to flit from one person to the next, the simplest way to strike up a conversation (without the need to waffle – 140 characters to be precise) and if you stick to just 2 simple rules you’ll soon have a growing number of followers who will show a genuine interest in what you’ve got to say. Like I said earlier; I’m a social person.
I think it’s fair to say that, like a good party, if you really want to embrace Social Media you need to get involved. You’ll only ever truly get out of it what you put in. So make yourself known and be true to whom you are, move around the rooms, strike up conversation and take the time to listen to others.
This week I started my new post as Learning Communities Manager in our Colleague Development Team so I’d be really interested to hear if you share in the similarities that I have. Are there any other social sites that you use? Which one is your favourite and why? And in which room do you see them at your Social Media party? I’d love to hear your thoughts – so please do leave me a comment…