I have bad news for you Neil Diamond fans. We have to go tell him that the lyrics to one of his songs are incorrect. He can’t be hooked on a feeling and have it really be meaningful. According to Stephen Covey, love is a verb. It might create a feeling, but you need to do the action first.
This is part of the wisdom that Dr. Covey offers in habit 1, which he calls “Be Proactive.” Now how does this relate to Social Media? Well, in more ways that you might perhaps think at first glance.
What can you control?
Part of the wisdom in this first segment of the book is that we are all inundated on a daily basis by forces that are beyond our control. This means that we’re always reacting. We never seem to get enough control to say, “Hey, I’m going to plan to do this first!” In Social Media, this feeling certainly can haunt you when you’re new, and then it sticks with you as you continue to dig into the Social Media reality.
For example, when I first joined Twitter, I felt like I was, say, a euglena in the Pacific Ocean. I was doing my own little photosynthesis thing, and people were talking around me, but when it came to me being proactive, it just didn’t seem to work. The same thing can happen when you start a blog. You’re sitting there working on the design, working on the content, you hit publish…then you realize that your blog is one of millions in the world. Feelings of being overwhelmed may saturate your brain.
We can use the wisdom from this first chapter to create what Dr. Covey calls a “circle of influence” for real life. In Social Media, we might use a word like your community or even less creative, we could say that you need to create a circle of friends. This wisdom is similar to a post by Jonathan Fields over at MyEscapeVelocity about Chunking. It’s about plucking some small segment out of the pie and saying, “Okay. How can I deal with this?”
Now how can you be proactive?
A lot of people talk about “promoting” in Social Media. As I was listening to Dr. Covey via my audio book, it struck me that promoting is kind of an ugly word for what goes on in Social Media. Really, it’s proactively helping someone along, isn’t it? When I put together #30Thursday posts, I don’t think of it as “promoting” people and their blogs. I think of it as shining the spotlight on certain people who write really well or who are proactive in their own right by recommending posts to be included.
Dr. Covey talks about how love is a feeling only in Hollywood. In the real world, love is the million trillion things you do to make someone feel loved. Well, in Social Media, I think the same logic could be applied to a word we toss around a lot – friend. In Twitter, if you want people to follow you, you have to be proactive in some way, don’t you? You answer a question from them that you see retweeted in your stream. You post a comment on their blog. As you do these proactive things, you add them to your circle of influence, and it becomes easier to continue to concentrate on them. It becomes easier to make them feel “loved.” Your universe becomes smaller because you are concentrating on key people, and you are concentrating on making them feel the Social Media love.
One little sticking point
There’s one root that’s sticking up out of the ground and kind of tripping me up, and it’s where Social Media begins to look really far separated from “the real world.” In your every day life, you can shrink your circle of influence down to a point where you can manage it, right? “I care about my family, my job, and my church,” you might say. Those three sectors of your life become your focus, and you proactively work to gain control of those sectors. You build those relationships through proactive relationship building.
Well, in Social Media, you can do this to some extent, but what I am learning is that the more you try to identify people whom you want in your community, the more people start becoming visible to you, because everything in Twitter is about six degrees of separation. If I follow back one person, there is the chance for all of THEIR followers to find me, and I can also find them. The more people in your community, the more people you meet. It’s hard to maintain a proactive stance to that sort of thing. You can’t say, “Oh, I can’t control this anymore, so I’m not going to friend anyone anymore.” I mean, I guess you could, but then what’s really the point?
Right now, I am still able to disperse my proactive care (I hope) across a lot of different people in my community, but I know, because people at this point have told me, that there will come a time when you just can’t respond to everybody. You can’t read every person’s blog every week.
Is there a way to gain control over your Social Media reality so that you can be proactive? It’s just got to remain about “chunking.” As your community gets bigger, you divide it into smaller lists, right? Concentrate on a list a week, perhaps. But knowing that you have the goal of being proactive with your community – that’s what leads to everything else.
That’s what went through my mind as I listened to Dr. Covey talk about the 1st habit of highly effective people. Do you feel like it’s possible to carve out a controllable niche in Social Media? Do you feel like Social Media is more reactive than proactive?
1st Image by Abdulaziz Almansour. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/code1name