When you think of Social Media, you probably do not think about a man who lived several centuries ago, who wore foofy collars and who, if one can believe the paintings, had very well trimmed facial hair. However, when you are thinking about how to engage with people in the online world, just such a fellow can serve you quite well. His name is William Shakespeare.
There are all kinds of lessons you can borrow from good ole Bill. I chose four, and here they are.
To thine own self be true
By far the most important thing in Social Media, in life, or anywhere else is to be true to yourself. We’ve talked about this a lot here on this blog. You have to set your objectives. You have to decide what is important to you. You have to make the commitment to what you are doing, and you have to decide that your way is the right way for you.
When you are thinking about how to engage with other people, it is 100% necessary to first understand who those people are engaging with when they reach out to you. Are they reaching out to your company logo or to your human face? Are they reaching out to a company name or your name? Why? What will they get when they reach out to you? What will you be comfortable offering? Everything hinges on your own answers to those questions. If you cannot be true to yourself, nothing else about engaging will work for you.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be – unless you own it and mean it
OK, Polonius didn’t have that last part on there when he was sending his son out into the world. The fact is that a big part of engaging in the online world is borrowing from people – whether it’s borrowing inspiration, borrowing ideas, or borrowing time. The flip side to that, and a key to engaging with people successfully, is to lend out as much as you borrow.
In both cases, you need to acknowledge what it is you are doing and why. If you are building on someone’s ideas or borrowing inspiration from someone, you need to give credit to them for that. You need to promise to yourself that you will remember that you borrowed from that person. You need to let them know that while you might not pay them back with exactly what you borrowed, you will pay them back somehow.
On the other side of the coin, you must not lend in the social media world if you are not genuine about it. If you do something nice for someone and then immediately follow up with, “Oh and can you do this for me?” people will pretty quickly get the hint that you are not giving out of a genuine interest in doing so.
Striving to better, oft we mar what ‘s well
One of the biggest traps in Social Media (and in life, if one must be honest) is that we are always left grasping for more. In Twitter-world, when you get your 25th follower, you set your sights on 50. Once you get to 50 followers you realize that 75 would really have you set on the right path. On your blog, you start out wanting that one really good comment, but as soon as you start getting a few regular readers, you want more traffic, more subscribers, and more tweets of your post.
The huge error in this when it comes to engagement is that by failing to feel content at any level, you are kind of telling the people who are in your community, “Eh, you’re not really enough for me.” When you are saying one comment isn’t good enough, you are telling that person who made the comment that their time isn’t really a difference-maker for you. In striving to improve, you actually could lose people who are already supporting you.
The world’s a stage
Always remember that Social Media, all of the networks included therein, it’s all one big stage. Everybody is the star of his or her own play, whatever that may be about. Avatars can be masks. Saying the right thing can be a memorized line. People can act in ways they never would in real life. When you are trying to engage with people, make sure you are starring as yourself, and try to get to the bottom of who other people truly are as well. We all have guards up at various levels. To truly connect, you’ve got to be willing to take off some of the stage make-up and show some of those imperfections or human traits that makes us who we are.
Wherefore art thou, Romeo?
So, what else about engaging online can you learn thanks to William Shakespeare? I’d love to hear what you come up with!
This is post #1 in the Engagement Series.