Home / How I Use Social Media: It Takes Commitment

How I Use Social Media: It Takes Commitment

I’m currently about halfway through reading “Trust Agents” (by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith) and digging it greatly. Go read it now. It’s awesome. But I digress.

Brogan and Smith point out:

[U]sing the Web to network and make connections may be the easiest thing you’ve ever done. This means connecting on a personal level rather than a business one, so neither party wants anything from the other. In a way, the Web is the equivalent of chatting in a bar, though it’s the largest bar in the world, where superficial connection with almost anyone is possible. In that environment, we get to have an initial relationship, but it can be used as a foundation to build on later. The easiest way to build on that relationship is in person.

This paragraph struck me not because it’s some sort of transcendent Eureka-like declaration, but rather because it’s so simple it’s true. The “interwebs” makes any connection possible.

It got me thinking about how I use social media. I touched on it briefly in my last post talking about Twitter and the evolution to email. But I use my social media tools differently:

Twitter
Twitter to me is the great giant macro-conversation. I use Twitter to connect with my industry (email marketing), find articles on my interests (email marketing, sports, general news, etc.), and have pretty genuine conversations with folks that I now consider my “friends.” My goal is to someday make those folks actual friends by meeting in person.

Facebook
I’ve been on Facebook forever. I was on Facebook before it was open to the general public, when it was expanding from college to college up and down the east coast. (Sometimes timing and accessibility are everything, right Malcolm Gladwell?) I still use Facebook the same way I did 6 years ago: as a tool to keep up with high school and college friends, and share links occasionally (mostly for this blog, selfishly).

I don’t take quizzes. I don’t play Mafia Wars or Farmville or whatever games there are (beyond the occasional Scrabble game). That’s not my cup of tea. When I used to be an avid user of AOL Instant Messenger, I used to call it “IM stalking.” Facebook is in the same boat for me.

LinkedIn
Still getting into LinkedIn slowly. I’ve had an account forever. I haven’t really grasped the full capacities of the application. It’s a work in progress for me.

Other Social Media Outlets
I’m diving into Delicious now for bookmarks. Really helpful. But I haven’t really gotten into the others.

After the jump, more about the social media commitment, my evolution of communication, why face-to-face is best, and a funny nothing-to-do-with-this-post video.

The bottom line is you have to make a commitment to social media.

I’m not saying you have to say “I’m going to spend 10 hours a week doing social media.” No.

It’s more like: Decide how you want to use each outlet, and commit to it. Stick with it. Be you. Be real.

Remember, the most important word in social media is SOCIAL.

Social = People.

People require authenticity. We can smell a fake from a mile away. If you tweet the same rotation of tweets every day, people will catch on to it. If you do nothing but retweet others’ posts or post links to your own blog (I am as guilty of this as anyone else, but I try not to), people will sniff that out.

The goal of social media should be: face-to-face in-real-life interaction.

Here’s how I’d love to use social media: Twitter -> Email -> Phone Call -> IRL meeting.

I’m hoping to go to the Email Evolution Conference in February in Miami. I’m hoping I can complete the last two steps of my above sequence before and during that conference.

Because “Face to Face Always Wins” as my good now-friend (from Twitter-to-IRL) DJ Waldow wrote. It wins because it’s real. We have so many ways to make connections now, but the ultimate goal is to meet in person, shake hands, give bear hugs (if you’re into that sort of thing).

How do you use social media? More importantly, how do you stay true to yourself in social media? How do you commit to it?

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