Developing the Social Skills Needed For Social Media

by | Mar 5, 2012 | Digital

All too often businesses decide to jump on board with social media and assign someone to start a Twitter feed or a Facebook page.  To a learned social strategist this is already starting to smell sour.  But it’s not necessarily a doomed effort until Tweets and Facebook posts are expected by the end of the day.  Social media has its own language and every channel (Twitter, LinkedIn,  and Facebook) has its own individual social cultures and dialects.  You need to learn the language and the culture of social media before you begin broadcasting.

Look Before You Leap And Listen Before You Speak

Some experts would advocate setting up social media accounts right away and start engaging in the discussion as soon as possible.  The problem is, aside from a complete lack of strategy, you need to learn how to communicate first.  Otherwise you can end up doing more damage than good, especially if your organization is in view of the public.

You can learn the basic principles of the digital culture by reading and research but that will only carry you so far.  You should begin listening and getting your feet wet in whatever networks in which you plan to participate.  Listen to how people communicate, how they broadcast, how they respond, chat, and share.   But don’t just jump on Twitter and listen to everyone.  Find your audience and listen to them.

Lessons From The Twitter Stream

There is an overall shared social culture on Twitter, but each audience also has its own unique local culture.  For example, in some circles on Twitter it is considered bad form to use hashtags at all.  In other circles it is only acceptable to use hashtags as clever literary devices such as in a tweet assembled to say “I had the strangest experience on the way to work today, all the traffic lights were stuck on yellow #LifeIsLikeABlogPost.” Other Twitter crowds are tolerant of using a few hashtags to help get posts found in searches, like using #SocialMedia to tag the tweets I’ll write to promote this post.  And some groups embrace using numerous hashtags to get the content to all interested audiences like tagging a tweet about this post with #SocialMedia #SM #SocialMediaStrategy #SocialChat #SocialSkills and #SocialBusiness.

Being Socially Skilled

There are no right or wrong Twitter conventions, but do you have the social media social skills to understand which conventions your audience uses?  Even if you have a good message, if you don’t understand the social culture you can be ignored or even be rejected by your potential audience.  And even if you have a good social media strategy, you need the right social skills in order to execute it.

The bottom line is you need to know your audience and learn how to communicate with them, where they are.  Better digital social skills come with time and experience.  In some ways you need to begin in order to learn, but you also need to learn some before you begin.

The ineffective or inappropriate use of social media is something we refer to as being socially awkward.  If you’d like more information that can provide social media training, social strategy, and the social media help your organization needs to stay out of this category then download our Free Guide Social Media 101 today!

George Konetes