Where is your Social Media party?

Social Media Party

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:

Hello

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.

Facebook

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!

The Kitchen

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.

Social cocktail

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…

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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

Your presence is out there!

Image

Just the other day I took a call on my mobile from an Architectural Technologist who explained to me he was preparing for a job interview. At first slightly puzzled it became apparent that the gentleman in question was asked by his prospective employers to research Tenant Cashback!

Whether this was a test of one’s research abilities or a very clever ploy by this organisation to find a little more about the scheme, it did make me think a little more about the presence we have within this virtual society we know as social media.

On this occasion LinkedIn was the reference point. Primarily seen as a professional social networking site where users can engage with their ‘connections’, on this occasion it was quite the opposite. I have never met this person before, we’ve never done business together or spoken with one another, but my details became apparent after the said person used ‘buzz words’ such as: ‘Tenant Cashback’, ‘Project Manager’ and ‘Home Rewards Club’ and placed them into the sites search engine. This method un-reeled a whole host of reports and articles and my name was nestled amongst the results.

I’m pleased to say I was able to help my newly found connection with his enquiries, should this lead to a successful appointment for him is yet to be decided but it made me realise the opportunities we can present to one another through our networking channels.

It is amazing how one venture can lead to another, how your journey could cross paths with other people’s with whom you had no intention of crossing but yet we see something within their profile that we find of interest. So whether you read this post as ‘your presence’ or ‘your presents’, either way you have something that you could offer and no doubt somebody wants – be prepared to lend a hand, your presence is out there!