We've all seen them. They're as numerous and frequent as deer flies in high summer (and just as annoying): the constant stream of articles telling us how best to use social media, or worse, how to become a social media MAVEN. Well dear Violets, into that cacophony comes the voice of reason. Jenn Reese's voice, to be exact. When I read this over on her blog, I just had to beg her to let me share it here, and she graciously agreed. It is truly the sanest, smartest social media advice I've read yet.
My Social Media Survival Guide by Jenn Reese
What this post is: my guidelines for navigating the social media waters.
What this post isn’t: a set of instructions or guidelines for anyone beside me. We all use social media differently, use it for different reasons, and expect different results. I would never presume to tell anyone else how to achieve their specific goals.
Social media I use: Blog, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest
Social media goals: Enjoy myself. Connect with existing friends. Make new friends. Laugh. Learn. Share opinions and links to things that inspire, tickle, intrigue, or outrage me. Goof off.
MY SOCIAL MEDIA SURVIVAL GUIDE1. Respect that everyone’s Social Media Survival Guide is different.
We’re all different, want different things, have different lives and different tolerances for technology and being social. Don’t expect other people to share your goals and priorities. (This should be the Golden Rule of social media, in my opinion. Maybe this plus the next one…)
2. Be yourself.
Life’s in the details, and that’s what you get. Quirky passions, interests, foibles, and bad jokes. What I ate for breakfast, what I should have had for lunch, what my cats are doing RIGHT AT THIS MINUTE. These are the things that make us unique, even in the vast ocean of people who, on paper, look exactly like us.
3. Never track friends/followers/subscribers.
This isn’t a videogame or a race and I’m not judging success by numbers. Friends and acquaintances aren’t commodities and the only metric for success is if I’m having fun (see goals, above). Some corollaries:
- Never use any service that tells you when someone stops following/subscribing/friending you. That way lies madness, heartache, and unnecessary hurt. Don’t do it to yourself.
- Never get upset if someone stops following you. They’ve got their own Social Media Survival Guide and you should let them do what they need to do, guilt-free.
- Never beg for followers. This makes the people who follow you already feel like livestock.
- Don’t expect people you follow to follow you back. If you’re following them because they’re interesting, then it shouldn’t matter if they don’t follow you back. Again, they’ve got their own Guide.
- You don’t need to follow everyone who follows you. Do whatever works for your life and lifestyle.
This goes back to respecting other people’s Survival Guides. People who care about you will try to please you even if it causes them stress. Just don’t put them in that position in the first place.
- Don’t ask people to retweet, blog, or share anything. If they want to, they will. Asking them to creates obligation.
- Don’t get upset if your friends don’t retweet, blog, or share something you wanted them to. You don’t know what’s going on in their lives, and you don’t know their Survival Guide. Don’t take it personally.
- Don’t expect people — even close friends — to read all of your tweets, blog posts, status updates. If they don’t, for whatever reason, don’t take it personally. Their lives are about them, not about you.
- Don’t expect people to respond to your comments all the time. It’s great if they do, but sometimes life gets in the way. It’s not always easy to respond to every tweet, blog comment, or “Like” of Facebook. Some people don’t even check their social media every day, and that’s fine. Respect other people’s Survival Guides.
Feel free to share your Survival Guide tenants with me, but please remember that my list isn’t intended as an attack on your list. Unless we have exactly the same goals and the same lives, there’s no reason for us to have the same Survival Guide.
(And if none of you read this, share it, or retweet it, that’s perfectly okay.)
# # #
Jenn Reese writes science fiction and fantasy adventure stories for readers of all ages. She has published short stories online and in various anthologies, including the World Fantasy Award-winning Paper Cities. Her first novel, Jade Tiger, is an action-adventure kung fu romance for teens and adults. Her newest book Above World, a middle grade adventure series for Candlewick Press will be available in February, 2012.