Brian Solis, one of the pioneering voices in social media and one of my fave raconteurs, wrote a provocative year-end post called My So-Called Digital Life. In it, he turns a harsh light on social media behavior and questioned its value in our lives. As we look to the year ahead and prepare to orchestrate our communication plans—either for personal or business impact, I believe Solis’ thoughts resonate.
Whether it’s selfies, the sandwich on your plate, life events, new profile pictures, a vacation spot, your updated relationship status, a provocative quote, a random icebreaker, or humble brag, we are wired for instant response and reaction. He observes, “With every action, we expect an equal or greater reaction.” It seems we are learning to measure our intrinsic worth as human beings in likes, comments, shares, retweets, and the coveted “favorite-d” tweet. Solis contends, “We invite attention because we’re learning to lean on it and the reactions that pour through our screens warm us. It reminds us that we’re appreciated, that we’re loved, that we’re alive.”
But, this is hollow praise, isn’t it? Superficial, temporal, and oh so fleeting—plus, it’s dependent on the whims and approval of others. It is only a flimsy substitution for a core sense of self-worth and soul substance. Most any therapist would tell you this is not a solid plan for long-term mental health. Perhaps Solis is right. Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate “the system”—to move on to a more psychologically healthy phase of social media– giving us the opportunity to invest differently and get more substance out of our digital lifestyle—and perhaps more meaning out of our lives as a whole. Here are some initial musings for 2014:
1. Engage in mindfulness. I think one way to transcend the shallow cycle of self-involvement is to approach social media with a sense of mindfulness—that is, try experiencing the moment fully for yourself first before commenting or feeling compelled to share or garner feedback. Stay present and conscious – with yourself and for yourself first and foremost. Stay in the moment. Observe, yes, but participate fully and mindfully in your own life.
2. Make it valuable. The second is also pretty practical, too. If you are in business, focus on your customer’s needs and therefore and serving up relevant, engaging content that is worth their time and attention. Make it about value—early and often.
3. Put it in context. For the most part, we’ve begun to embrace content marketing, but in 2014, we’ll become more sophisticated about its deployment. We’ll discover that context is essential—especially with respect to the specific social channels used, media, target audiences, times of day . . . the many variables that define and design its relevance. Brands should start asking themselves, “How are people using a particular social channel?” and “What makes a channel unique?” Then they will create contextually relevant content based on those insights. More and more, marketers will discover content may be king, but the power is in the context.
4. Communicate from the inside out. This has been my mantra for a couple of years—particularly for small businesses, but it’s expanding into the enterprise social media realm. This may seem painfully obvious, but social media synergy happens, well, socially. Collaboration is the best way to ignite engagement. It’s that simple, and it starts with your internal team. They know your business best, anyway. You pay them to make it their business, right? Empower them instead of thwarting them on social profiles. Give them guidelines and messaging to carry forward, around, and through. We are talking about cultivating the social employee. We cannot communicate externally until we communicate internally. Good to remember in just about any context.
5. Snack, nibble and taste. Content need not be a bitter pill or a long dreary blog post. Make it tasty, fun and delicious. Make a quick 60-second video. Share a serious of fun photos or a really cool infographic. Video. Video. Video. Short-form video—Twitter’s Vine app and Instagram’s 15-second video make it incredibly easy to create and share this short-form content, so take the time to not only understand how to use these platforms but also how users consume content on them.
6. Divide and conquer. It’s time to reel in the scatter-shot approach. Cultivate a solid presence in one or two channels rather than dominate every single platform. Re-purpose your content as webinars, blog posts, ebooks, videos and social media content. Go for frequency and volume. Stop whipping yourself into a social media frenzy– unless you enjoy that sort of thing! And for heaven’s sake, go for LinkedIn—especially if you are not maximizing it already. Develop a comprehensive LI strategy that leverages leadership profiles, group participation and your company profile. LinkedIn is poised for major growth and impact in 2014—and if you’re in business and not on there, you’ll be missing the boat. Watch for some big feature announcements.
Your content awaits . . . What are your thoughts for social media mindfulness?
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