I was recently thumbing through the book The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users by Guy Kawasaki & Peg Fitzpatrick and I came across a gem of a suggestion for handling heated topics and comments online. If you’re like me, you sometimes post something that is controversial and then the subsequent commentary quickly spirals out of control. I don’t mind getting into an online discussion and sharing my opinions as well as seeing the opinions of others, but over the years it has become painfully obvious to me that it is impossible to win an argument on the Internet.
That’s why I really like Mr. Kawasaki’s suggestion of going three rounds:
My suggestion is that you embrace the rules of amateur boxing and fight for only three rounds. The opening bell is you share a post. Ding-ding. Round 1: Commenter comments. Round 2: You respond. Round 3: Commenter responds to the response. End of fight.
How simple is that? You share something. You make your position known. Your guests get to have their voice heard. They even get the final word. I like it. Now if I can only remember to use it.
The above video is a basic overview about how to find the right people to follow on Twitter. You start with a Twitter search on a given topic that interests you. It can be a keyword related to your industry, a topic that interests you, anything at all really, but you start with a search. That will show you who shares your interests because those people are tweeting about what you have searched for.
When you find someone who looks promising, there are some things you can check to see if they are a good fit with what you are after. Are they verified (have a blue checkmark by their profile name)? If so, they have a larger following and Twitter has verified that they are who they say they are. This isn’t a must, and you can find excellent people to follow who don’t have the verified blue checkmark, but it is always a plus if it is present.
Another thing to look for is to examine what the person has been tweeting about. If you look through some of their recent tweets, you can get a good idea of what you will be getting if you follow them.
Once you have decided they are “follow worthy” and you’ve clicked the follow button, you aren’t necessarily finished. It is a good idea to click into their “following” list to see other folks that this person follows, is learning from and is influenced by. You can use this process over and over again.
It is really helpful to find someone who is a known expert in the area of interest, and if that person has a high follower to following ratio. If they have thousands of followers, and only a handful of people they follow, chances are good that you can find a lot of fascinating people that they themselves are following.
To me, it isn’t all that helpful to see an account with many thousands of followers when they are also following many thousands as well. It is especially a concern to see someone who follows far more people than they are followed by. While it is quite normal to start out by following more people than you are followed by, this shouldn’t always be the case once you’ve been on Twitter a while. Eventually, you should have a ratio that is roughly the same number of followers to following. If you are very picky about who you follow and you are sharing great stuff that many people want to see, you could wind up with a relatively small list that you follow, and many people following you.
It is customary for many people to return a follow with a follow, so some people game the system by following thousands and gaining thousands of followers as well. I would prefer to follow someone who has gained a large following simply by the quality of what they share on Twitter that provides great value to those who are following them.
The best way to build up an online reputation is through the regular sharing of original content that provides benefit to others. Ideally, you will post every day, or even multiple times a day. Only through regular posting and sharing will you build up a library of stuff you have thought about and problems you have solved that others can see.
This habit of regular sharing has a couple of benefits. First, you might just provide a solution that can help someone else working on a similar problem. Also, you are showing what you can do to people who might have an interest in knowing more about you. An online portfolio of work that potential clients and employers can see is far superior than a resume or printed portfolio because it shows what you are working on right now (Kleon, 2014). If you can discipline yourself to make regular posts about the projects you are working on and problems you are solving, you are making yourself stand apart from the crowd.
Kleon, A. (2014). Show your work. New York, NY: Workman Publishing.
This is just a stream of consciousness thing I wrote a while back while reflecting on how to “do” social media. These are just my ideas. At some point I should polish this up, but I’m going to share it as it is now, so it doesn’t just reside in some file on my device that I’ll ultimately lose or forget about.
Onward to my hastily constructed Social Media Tips…
Don’t be a negative, be positive. Nobody wants to hear the negative.
Associate with great people. People who are better than you. People who are currently where you aspire to be. You will become like the people that you associate with. That’s the beauty of social media. You can associate with really great people. It’s never been possible to the extent that it is now with the internet. Why not find people you admire, people who know what you’d like to know, and connect with them online?
Post regularly. There’s nothing that will enhance your success online more than providing a regular stream of valuable content.
To get more readers, to grow your audience, follow the Golden Rule, “Do to others as you would have them do unto you.”
Small Town Rules. (It’s the title of a book written by my friend Becky McCray.) Being on social media is much like living in a small town. Those of us who grew up in small towns have an advantage because similar rules apply in that setting. When people join social media they put themselves into an environment where everybody knows your business, just like in a small town .
Refer your own work for reflection. You can look back six months, five years, 10 years from now and see where your thinking was and how much you’ve grown as a person.
Establish yourself as an expert. How do you become an expert? Malcolm Gladwell famously suggested in the book Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. So how much are you practicing whatever it is you wish to become an expert in? 40 hrs * 52 weeks * 5 years is just over 10000 hrs.
Avoid arguments. Discussions are ok. Once you sense you are talking past one another and no one is listening to the other point of view, it is best to bow out. I’m not sure anyone has ever changed their mind simply by reading a stranger’s opinion on the Internet. Most people are seeking information that confirms opinions they already hold.
Work on your character. Before you do anything, particularly if it is online, ask yourself if you’d be comfortable with this action being blasted around the world on various media outlets. Because if it is outrageous enough, it will be.
Be authentic. Show us who you are. Show your face and use your real name. The online world has enough anonymous garbage. If you know what you are talking about and believe what you are saying, there’s no reason you shouldn’t back it up with the real person behind those sayings and beliefs.
A number of years ago, I heard about the so-awful-it’s-good movie Birdemic. It has been on my watch list ever since, and over the Christmas break I finally got a chance to watch it. The movie has been billed as “The worst movie ever made” and justly so. It is truly bad.The screenplay is bad. The acting is bad. The directing is bad. The editing is bad. The special effects are bad.
Here is an excerpt to give you a taste of how deliciously awful Birdemic is:
Now why would I want to see such a disaster? Well, for one thing, I teach digital media technology. In our program, we learn about film editing, digital storytelling and special effects. With Birdemic, I was thinking we could analyze a film that someone spent time and money to produce, discussing the things that went wrong, and how could things be improved. After seeing it, I’m imagining there won’t be enough class time for a comprehensive analysis unless we devote an entire semester to it. However, we can look at some excerpts and explore the possibilities presented to digital film makers.
One recurring theme in the courses that I teach is that of “working digitally” or doing digital work professionally. Because it is an emerging field, the possibilities are endless. I want students to begin to imagine the kinds of work that can be done using digital media technologies.
Birdemic was created by James Nguyen, a silicon valley software engineer with a dream. Through persistence and audaciousness, his film became a reality. Using social media and publicity stunts at the Sundance film festival, the film was picked up by a distributor, screened in several cities, released on DVD, and by all accounts became far more successful than what should normally be expected. So count Mr. Nguyen as a visionary of what “working digitally” looks like.
I also have a second example of how “working digitally” is associated with the Birdemic film. I’ve been aware of the Rifftrax comedy website for several years. The business model for Rifftrax is to create comedy sound tracks to play along with commercially released DVDs. If you are familiar with Mystery Science Theater 3000, aka MST3K, you know how this works – basically it is a group of wise-crackers joking around about movies they are watching. After the MST3K television show ended, the Rifftrax website was launched. Below is a sample of how Rifftrax works with the Birdemic film. We see scenes from Birdemic together with the jokes by Rifftrax.
Normally, one buys, borrows or rents a dvd to watch, and downloads an MP3 joke soundtrack to play along with the movie. Over the break, I got the Birdemic film, downloaded the Rifftrax mp3, and had a great time watching this awful movie. But I think it is a perfect example of people doing digital work, creating a product that no one could ever even imagine before computers and the internet.
There is no question that social media has turned the world upside down. I remember many years ago being stunned to learn that people were earning a living by blogging. Now people are earning a living by entertaining us on social media. Tonight’s segment on 60 Minutes, “The Influencers,” tells us what that looks like.