She asked me point-blank. She’s swimming upstream, trying to get her leaders to properly engage in social media—to capitalize on the potential. I hear this a lot. Some leaders won’t even consider it. Others stumble in awkwardly trying to peddle their wares and services from day one. The question was honest.
“Can you teach someone social media skills?”
“Yes,” I said, “however…” The caveat:
There are two types of rookie social media fumblers: The ones who have trouble connecting with others in any context and those who just aren’t used to this new environment.
For those who generally can’t connect with others, they need to grow their social muscles. First, they must see the need—they must understand why connecting with others is beneficial—both for themselves and for the people around them. Then they need to review (or learn) the basics. You know, the kindergarten stuff:
1. Treat others as you want to be treated.
2. Listen before you speak.
5. Tell the truth.
6. Share what you have.
7. Help others out.
The second group, those who are just uncomfortable in new media, need to use the social muscles they already have. I freely admit that social media isn’t for everyone. However, before one can honestly make that decision, I think one should understand what social media really is.
Social media is simply another context for humans to connect with one another. Fundamentally, it’s no different from having a pen pal, calling your mother, or meeting someone for lunch. All the basics—including those listed above—still apply. My advice to social media novices:
1. Go hang out. Listen. Listen some more. Learn the language, the culture, the customs.
2. Don’t even think of selling anything.
3. Help. Give away something valuable—not the whole farm, mind you—but something worthwhile.
4. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy others. Build real relationships with people.
5. Be smart. Don’t give away sensitive or secure information.
6. Find a mentor or twelve. Find someone to follow and emulate.
7. Learn the tools and develop a strategy.
Bottom line, social media skills are just social skills. Whether it’s tweeting or public speaking, anyone can learn to connect if they believe in the benefits and are willing to do the work.
What advice would you give to those just diving into social media?