Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Can you learn to be 'social' when using social media?
When I started blogging in 2005, one of the first things I did was study how the so-called 'successful' bloggers blogged. One of the bloggers I began reading was Hugh MacLeod at Gaping Void.
I noticed as soon as I started reading Gaping Void that Hugh wasn't blogging the 'right' way. Specifically, he was constantly linking out to other sites and bloggers. This was obviously 'wrong', because all he was doing was sending traffic AWAY from his blog. And if a blogger with several days experience could see this, I'm sure everyone else could as well. Obviously.
But as I kept reading Hugh (even though I knew how he blogged was 'wrong'), I began to notice that people were commenting saying that they appreciated the link to Seth's recent post, or Tara's post on Pinko Marketing. Then I saw someone comment that they loved reading his blog because of 'all the great links you share'.
Hmmmmm.....could it be that by sharing links to other sites that Hugh wasn't actually driving people AWAY from his blog, but instead giving people a reason to become regular readers?
Then soon after, another blogging epiphany happened for me. As I was doing a crash-course of reading blogs in an effort to uncover the secrets of being a great blogger, I began to find a post here and there that caught my attention enough to leave a comment. Then a day or two later I noticed that traffic to my own blog started suddenly going up. And for the first time, COMMENTS were coming in! Awesome! But the problem was, I still had no idea what had caused the floodgates to open. Why all the traffic and comments suddenly? Then my friend Jordan Behan left a comment and when he did, he THANKED me for commenting on his blog. I went back and checked, and sure enough, almost all of the comments I had suddenly gotten, were coming from bloggers whose blog I had commented on first.
What these two examples did for helping me understand how and WHY people use social media, is immeasurable. Share something of value with others (such as a link to a great blog post), and they will be thankful. Create something of value for them (such as a comment on their blog), and they will not only be thankful, but they will want to return the favor.
But when I started blogging, my thought was that you become a good blogger by creating great content, and giving people a reason to come to your blog, and stay there. I had to LEARN how to be social with social media. I had to figure out how the tools work, and why people are using them. Not to silo content and information, but to SHARE it.
I was thinking about this learning process as I read Robbin's post today. I agree, I think companies have to train their employees on how to use social media as well. And in reality, the only way to do that is by making mistakes. Even if a company hires me to help them learn how to use social media effectively, there's still a time when the training wheels have to come off and the company takes ownership of their own efforts. No one learns how to ride a bicycle without earning a few scraped knees first. Social media is no different.
BTW as an introvert, I really think this applies. When I first started using social media, I didn't want to interact with strangers, because I am hesitant to do so offline. I had to learn how to become more social online, and now I think I'm an online extrovert, and an offline introvert. Have any other introverts noticed the same thing?