So you tweet into a Tweet chat, a Facebook LinkedIn group or page, Quora stream, Empire Avenue community or blog comment discussion with good intentions.
You try to engage in the discussion but something just isn't working. You may even feel a bit anxious. You feel as if you don't belong. You feel as if everyone is stupid, or that they just don't get it. You may even spout off a few sarcastic tweets , posts or comments. You threaten to leave the group, tribe, chat or whatever it may be. You don't care what they think because they all drive you nuts anyway.
So what is it? Why do you have difficulties “gelling” with these online groups? Your offline relationships are “just fine.” You simply wish people would spend more time “offline” living “real life.” For many who take the time for online relationships, it is real life!
Note: Heads up this post is my personal opinion. It includes experiences I have had, people I have watched struggle to fit in with communities that are already “gelled” without success.
We all know social media has evolved over the past few years. It was different when we were all new. When Twitter was new to everyone and we were all building the ecosystem together. Not all of that has really changed. There are still newbies joining by the thousands daily. There are many opportunities to start up new groups of your own or join, engage and deep dive with existing communities.
What happens to the new person who tries to connect with the existing communites? What happens when you tweet into a tweet chat with rude or sarcastic tweets spouting off how you don't like social media or the special guest that night? Have you thought that maybe the majority of other folks in the community do? Maybe the other community members asked to have them on the chat line to share what they do?
I am seeing many new to social media get frustrated before they get started. They try to dive into a social media conversation or group without taking the time to understand the ecosystem they are joining. They often do such without respect for the community as a whole and as individual members.
Bottom line: If you don't like the community, conversation, or people in it, then leave!
The best thing about social media, social networking, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora and the list goes on is that there are numerous communities for you to engage in. Don't waste your time, waste your breath or risk ruining your own online reputation with a community that gets the best of your integrity.
You may be better off taking a break from the group and coming back when you can have an open mind. Or try joining a different group. Even better maybe try going into listen mode for a week or two to see what you can discover about the ecosystem & the people within it. You might be surprised what you learn about not only the ecosystem and people in it, but also yourself!
The power of community.
I love to see new people who join social media achieve success. There is nothing better than seeing people grow via the power of community. For every grump that I see join an existing group I see five that join with an open mind and open heart who immediately feel connected.
@JanetCallaway and @SteveCassady are both great examples. I can remember several months back when they both tweeted into our #GetRealChat , @DabneyPorte's #SMManners and @LinkedInExpert's #LinkedInChat as a newbie. Steve could hardly do a retweet in a tweet chat window. Both of them entered with a kind heart, with a open mind to learn, to engage and help others.
Now both of them help lead & cover for each community leader when we need their help. They are not only an active member of all three of these communities but they are both active leaders. They didn't enter each existing community with an intention to be a leader. They entered with a heart to connect, learn and help others. The group helped them become leaders organically as they made them feel good.
I can't write a post with a rant and not give you some ideas to make it right. Check out these 11 tips to success in joining new communities. There are many others but these are the ones that I think are easiest to understand and a newbie can take to action right away!
11 Tips to Success in the Social Ecosystem
1. Take the time to learn the ecosystem. Do a double click on the broader ecosystem, the community and individuals.
2. Take time to listen. Read the community pages, blogs of members, active discussions and tweet streams. Read with an intent to learn and understand. Pay close attention to the tone, language and topics of conversation. If the community's main conversations are about how to use social media or become a leader, don't bash leadership and social media for an hour during a tweet chat.
3. Have an open mind and an open heart. Enter the community with a thirst to connect, learn and grow. You'll be amazed what you can learn if you take the time to truly listen with your ears and heart to the opinions of others. Feel free to share your opinion, let people know if you disagree. However, do it with an open ear to listen and learn from the response of the community to your opinion.
4. Connect with individuals, not just the community at whole. Take time for the people within in the tweet chat, group or network. Learn their names, what makes them tick. The more you can learn about the individuals the higher the chance you have with seeing success and return on your investment in time with the community.
5. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Humble yourself. Just because you don't know something doesn't make you a “dum dum”. Asking questions is a good way to learn who the leaders are in the community.
6. Add value. Focus on what it is you can do for the community versus what they can do for you? How can you help the member in the community? Who can you cheer up? Who needs help in a certain area? Are the leaders of the community feeling overwhelmed and unable to answer questions? How can you help other newbies feel welcome? Adding value in a genuine way is the best method to inspiring the community members to further connect with you.
7. Respect the community and the people in it. Use your head and common sense. If it is an existing community remember that it existed before you joined and it's going to continue to exist even if you go away mad. Don't burn bridges if you decide to leave.
8. Don't purposely “start stuff”. Be positive. Similar to what granny always says “if you don't have nothin' nice to say, don't say anything at all.”
9. Tweets are public & forever. Remember, just because you may feel “safe” in a tweet chat, Facebook group or Facebook business page that everything is public. Tweets are public for all to see, not just those in the community. As you tweet your negative opinion on how terrible a certain product, business or group is remember you may have potential clients watching who like those things you just criticized. You never know who is watching your tweet stream!
10. If you are not feeling connected, look in the mirror. How is your tone making others feel. Are you sending signals that push people away versus organically attracting them to you ? If you are frustrated with a certain topic and feel that nobody gets it but you, maybe you should do a little soul searching to figure out why that might be. Maybe you could improve your tone, engage more deeply, listen more intently?
11. Have fun. It's not going to ruin your life if you don't get with one community. Move on, get over it and learn from it. Keep a good attitude and you will attract far more people than being the critical mean tweeter!
What are your thoughts? Do you struggle with connecting with existing communities? Have you seen people struggle and put their reputation on the line? Have you seen tweet chats, group discussions be de-railed by a negative Nancy? What do you do within your communities to make sure newbies feel welcome? What tips can you offer for new people that join the communities you are associated with or lead?
Great post! #4 happens to be very timely since I was just reading and commenting in another blog about the advantages of using your personal picture vs. logo/avatar in the virtual world.
In general, I believe that your “engagement strategy” will depend on your objectives and if there is a particular industry in which you want to participate. I use my Twitter and my FB page for my company, which is in the language/translation industry. Immersing into Twitter was pretty natural: I introduced myself and started sending consistent information about language, culture and our industry in general. I also take the time to read my colleagues’ blogs, which are many and really good! Eventually, colleagues and potential employers (such as translation agencies and other direct clients) started following me and the conversation just came out naturally.
Although it wasn’t in my initial plan, this effort introduced me to a couple of Hispanic/Latino groups (I’m originally from Uruguay), where I can share cultural issues and topics.
Finally, now I want to expand a little to reach to prospects outside my industry. I attended the #GetRealChat last night to try to learn new interesting things from people with whom I usually don’t interact. Attending a chat seems to be the perfect ice-breaker to immerse yourself, or not, in a particular virtual group.
Great! Thank you.
Nothing and that includes teams can function without community
WOW! Pam, what a wonderful surprise it is to see myself recognized in this post. Thank you so very much for your kind words which are so appreciated. Ironically, why I came to read the post–other than the fact that I always like to read what you have to say–is because I loved the title and felt the post would have something to teach me.
Pam, you, Steve Olenski and the wonderful community you created in #GetRealChat provide a perfect nurturing environment for growth. Quite honestly, I could “feel” you holding on when the training wheels first came off and I started pedaling down the chat stream. Pam, I can remember the supportive comments that made me give a fist pump and think YES! can do this. It was and is still exhilarating. Thank you.
Well, Pam, I will stop now before my eyes puddle up and I gush. Your kind words absolutely made my day. Mahalo and aloha. Janet
Hi Pam, great insights! I’m a newbie of only months using Twitter and I’ve found it necessary to listen (lurke!) for more than a week or two to really catch on to some chats. But, as you say, you do find the things that fit your interests and personality with a little investment of time and then the people who share so much value with you that you just feel like you want to be a part of helping them succeed immensely.
Much like Silvina said, it wasn’t my intention to use Twitter to engage in customer service discussions as I no longer lead that part of our organization, but then I happened upon #custserv a few weeks ago and my genuine interest in this made them irresistable. So many super smart people share so much on social media, it can’t help be keep you interested and motivated.
I enjoy your posts and shares.
My focus is on marketers, and you nailed the issues so many marketers have in social media. They embark on a social media campaign and expect to see it drive results immediately, the way a search campaign does. They are both lumped under inbound marketing afterall, right? To get those immediate results, they mass follow and mention spam on Twitter, ask self-serving questions on LinkedIn (or post marketing speak as an answer!) and generally make their company look like an a$$ that doesn’t care about the very people in the community they want to connect with.
One piece of advice I give is to get involved personally in social media before getting involved on behalf of a company. You have to walk in the audiences’ shoes. Even make some of the mistakes in your own name, which is far more repairable than your brand name.
All good stuff above – I think we’ve all felt awkward at some moment. And we’ve all found our way to leadership in some situation.
Janet Callaway is just as you describe — not surprised to see her mentioned above.
You asked about helping people new to a situation acclamate…
Keep eyes and ears open…make sure no one feels left out. Consider how you would feel and reach out with gestures that would make you comfortable.
For my Triberr tribe, I’ve been sending emails out about once per week to introduce new members, let triberrs know of updates to the system, and suggest ways we might develop a good tone within our group…also tools that will help them be good bloggers or tweeters.
You are a great leader, Pam! Thank you for your leadership and suggestions.
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Great article! I can relate to being uncomfortable at first, but there is something for everyone! Thanks for making me realize I’m not a neanderthal!
Great article about getting comfortable with social media!
Yes, I’ve experienced tweet chats, group discussions be de-railed —
either by snark or a bit of bullying or control-freakishness. I’ve
noticed the pros doing a really terrific job of welcoming and
recognizing people, as well has helping people learn the ropes and
boundaries, in kind and professional ways. Lurking a bit, until a
participant feels comfortable, can help some. Others may do best by
plunging it, assuming the group is open to newbies and newbie
mistakes. Structuring a FAQ or info page is also great, as long as
newbies know about it before or soon after they arrive on the scene. –D
Yes, I’ve experienced tweet chats, group discussions be de-railed — either by snark or a bit of bullying or control-freakishness. I’ve noticed the pros doing a really terrific job of welcoming and recognizing people, as well has helping people learn the ropes and boundaries, in kind and professional ways. Lurking a bit, until a participant feels comfortable, can help some. Others may do best by plunging it, assuming the group is open to newbies and newbie mistakes. Structuring a FAQ or info page is also great, as long as newbies know about it before or soon after they arrive on the scene. –D
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