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Back to basics: What does it mean to "be social?"

EmpathyThere are learning curves in social media. As a coach to newcomers to social media, I've observed some of the most common hurdles:

-Lack of basic computer skills
-Lack of time or motivation to make social media  interaction really work
-Lack of social skills and empathy (Ouch, I know.  Sometimes the truth hurts.)

Computer skills can be learned and practiced, work time can be scheduled, and motivation increases with success. Imagine your social media channels as a cozy living room, and you are the host of a cozy gathering with good friends. You'd be working extra hard to make sure everyone was comfortable, right?

For some, social skills and empathy can be a heavy lift. Since these skills are a huge part of interacting online, here are a few exercises to get you feeling "the social media way" of talking to others online. Practice each of these skills weekly, and you will be successful. I promise!!

  1. Try to be more like an empath: Some people are born with the ability to observe the feelings and emotions of others, say just the right thing, and make them comfortable. In the example of social media "as a cozy living room", your job is to make sure everyone is welcome and is part of the group.
  2. Acknowledge people and situations: When someone expresses happiness, anger or frustration, SAY SOMETHING! If you were in the same room with someone who is experiencing a "moment" of emotion, you wouldn't just walk by them. A simple "that's great" or "good luck!" or "that's too bad" is simple good manners. 
  3. Speaking of manners, try to keep harsh or overly-critical remarks to a mimimum. The old adage "if you can't think of something nice to say, don't say anything at all" does not necessarily apply, though. Just try not to be negative all the time, but there is nothing wrong with a little disagreement. Social media is often described as a virtual world, and this is true. And there's no world I know of that doesn't have a little dissention once in a while.
  4. Keep it clean. Use your indoor voice and keep the cusswords to yourself.
  5. Find humor in the world around you. Post a clean joke, a funny picture, or tell a story about some bizarre thing that happened to you today. People can relate to the human experience, and most people find humor in day-to-day life.
  6. Tout the accomplishments of others. Acknowledge milestones such as birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and new jobs.
  7. Spend at least half your time talking to people about something other than yourself. Trust me, the favor will be returned 10 times over.
  8. Pass on information for your friends. If someone has a bit of news to share with the world, and it's valuable and newsworthy, take the extra time to pass it on.

If you follow these simple rules, you'll be on your way to "social media social" and have lots of friends to share with. Any other tips you'd recommend?

-Claire Celsi

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