A lot of times, people think of those who interact in the world of Social Media as being kind of self-centered. After all, Twitter asks you what’s happening. Facebook asks you what’s on your mind. Your posts are things you’ve written. Your tweets are updates about your life and what you’re up to.
However, when we talk about engagement online, it’s usually a thought process that has more to do with other people, not ourselves. While I’m not really advocating you becoming completely self-involved, there are a few things that you really need to internalize, be aware of, and monitor as you prepare to engage with other people online. Think about the following:
1. How much of yourself do you want to show the world? This is important to think about as you begin your process of getting to know people online. The temptation is to be a lot more open because you’re talking to people (so it seems) who don’t know you, who can’t see you, and who therefore can’t (or won’t) judge you. However, how you present yourself hugely impacts how other people will interact with you, and don’t forget, you’re never “just” talking to the person you’re tweeting to. Everyone can see that stuff. Do you want your boss to read that tweet you just sent?
2. What kind of online game are you playing? Because let’s face it, everybody has a game in the online spaces. Some people play other people to get what they want. Some people just have the game of competing with themselves. Some people are playing the “How many things can I sell?” game. The game you play determines the rules you will live by and the kinds of people you will most likely search for.
3. What are your hot buttons? It’s extremely important to be honest with yourself about what issues are your Achilles heel type issues. Is there a comment someone could make innocently enough that would throw you into a fury? Is there a political viewpoint that you can’t stand? A religious one? You might not want to be open about those things, but you need to be honest with yourself, because you are likely to encounter hot button issues at one time or another. You need to prepare yourself so that instead of ranting and raving, you can extract yourself from the situation and maintain your composure.
4. Where is your line between business and professional? If you are using online platforms for business, you need to carefully and honestly decide where your business ends and where you begin. It’s difficult to engage if you’re all business all the time, but if you are only talking as yourself, people may forget what you are selling. How will you balance these facets of your online presence? Best to work that out on the front end as it will help you avoid confusion and potentially awkward situations later on.
5. What are you least confident about? Again, this is a really tough conversation to have with yourself, but you need to do it. As I told you last week, when I did my first Vlog, it was something I didn’t have very much confidence about. When I got a comment that wasn’t very nice, therefore, it seemed a million times worse than it would have in another scenario. I had not prepared myself for that. What scares you the most about the online world? Identify it. Still try it. Still strive to succeed. But know that first voice you will hear, that first voice filled with doubt or uncertainty, will be your own.
6. What are you most confident about? Now that you’ve scared yourself, what are you most confident about in the online spaces? There are two reasons to identify this part of your online presence. First, you want to accentuate that, right? But also, it’s easy to feel or be cocky online. If you are super confident about something, you want to make sure, for the purpose of engagement, that you don’t come off as an egotistical jerk. If someone asks a question, you don’t want to talk to them like they just asked the stupidest question ever. You need to be self-aware even when you are feeling like you’re in your element.
If you don’t have answers to these six questions, take a moment to ponder them. These are the kinds of thoughts and plans that provide you with a foundation for all of the engaging you’ll do.
Do you have ideas about other questions we should ask ourselves before engaging online? I’d love to hear them!
This is post #45 in the Engagement Series. Is there a topic I haven’t covered that you are dying to learn more about? Let me know!
Image by Miguel Saavedra. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/saavem