What is the most valuable social media advice you received?

When it comes to the ever-evolving rules of social media engagement, a little sound advice from trusted friends could go a long way.  With the seemingly endless lists of social media Do’s and Don’ts in circulation on the Internet, I find it important to stay on top of the latest best practices.  If you’re anything like me, you always prefer to err on the side of etiquette caution.

First, I’ll get things started with my personal golden rule.  To me, social media is about collaborating and building relationships just like you would in any real life situation.   So, I can sum up my personal golden rule with the words below:

Give more than you take.

The beautiful thing about cultivating this habit is that, in turn, you receive so much more.  I see this in my daily walk of life and this has worked wonderfully for me.  After all, this guiding philosophy has led me to each one of you!  Now, it’s your turn.

I thought I’d enlist the help of ten of my socially savvy contacts to hear the most valuable social media advice they’ve ever received.  I’d like to share their social web secrets with you.

When I joined Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin in January 2009, so many gave me an avalanche of advice.   On Twitter (where I spent most of my time) the best advice I received was this:  “Everyone has value.” A simple statement, yet it has tremendous significance and power.  Whether you’re a student in India with 500 followers, or a single mother entrepreneur in Ireland with 500,000 followers, you have something to say, something that can help elevate the social media conversation.  This is true.
Some of my best blog post ideas I’ve written have come from people I followed and didn’t know how interesting they were until I followed them.  I have found that when it comes to social media, it should not be just about the people you already know, meaning your “clique” (pronounced CLICK).  It should also be about the “crowd”, you know, people in general.  How do you expect to grow being “clique-ish”?  It’s impossible.
I don’t aim “to move the clique”, I aim to “move the crowd”.  I re-tweet new people every day (every day!), and look for new thinkers and writers who add a fresh perspective on all of the social media platforms.  This complements the “Everyone has value” advice I received.  In order to remain dynamic and relevant, we must consistently bring new faces and names into the discussion, because in my world, social media has never been about any one person, or any one group of people.  Never! Everyone matters.  The old school and the new school.  I believe it wholeheartedly, and I do everything I can to put that point of view in practice.
I’ve been on Twitter for a year now and two pieces of advice have been extremely valuable:  First – Jump in, engage, and have fun.  I had been on Twitter for a few weeks when @DabneyPorte invited me to an #SMGirlfriends simulchat. As I followed the conversation, I quickly realized that people on Twitter are very engaging and willing to share their knowledge on a variety of topics.   I’ve connected with so many wonderful friends who are always wiling to help me out whenever I need it.
The other piece of advice that was extremely valuable was understanding the hashtag to search for topics.  Last summer, I was in Thailand and used the #Phuket and #TTOT hashtags to find/request ideas on what to do in Phuket. @JamieMonk responded and suggested that I go sea kayaking off James Bond Island.   He connected me with a friend and I experienced an amazing adventure in Thailand which I would’ve never found if it weren’t for Twitter and the hashtags.
The most valuable advice I received may have been from Robert Caruso (@fondalo and bundlepost.com).  When I began using social networks professionally, I used my company name and logo on my social accounts.  Robert took the time to write and say that people enjoy interacting with other people (with real names and pictures) – not so much with nebulous companies.  His insight really helped me to develop my voice and to interact with a rich complement of people that I otherwise probably wouldn’t have.   It also helped to inform a really great insight that I share with other businesses about how to connect and engage with customers.
I was never really given any social media advice.  I was naturally good at it.  This is what has worked for me.
It’s all about your Twitter Followers, Face Book friends, Google Plusser and so on.   I see myself as a resource; offering great customer service to my followers.
Share helpful information and also re-share content from your network.  Answer questions and be helpful.  Don’t know the answers to a question?  Take it to the next level, find the answer for them or point them in the right direction.  This will give you added value that you took the extra step to help them out.
In early 2009 I was lucky enough to be involved in a 15 hour a day 3 month social media course.  Besides filling in all the online “gaps” in my armoury I was advised to…

“give out my best content for free, to have a regular daily presence on the major social media platforms and to brand myself in a unique way that would get remembered and ultimately recommended”.

I was also told to be myself as that is fun and easy and people like that the most.
The best advice I received happened organically, and I stumbled into it pretty early in my foray into social media — joining an online community! That is when social media took on a whole new dimension for me, and for the first time it no longer felt like I was talking to myself or just posting content into what seemed like a giant void of… anti-engagement.

Little did I know that this was the “secret” to unleashing the true power of social media — because only then can you get in conversations with multiple people that often then splinter into multi-layered conversations, just like “in real life.”   In other words, the conversation goes deeper and that is where real relationships and bonds are formed.   This is how one really gets to know people online and doors are opened beyond what would be possible otherwise.

I now count many people across the nation and indeed, across the world as my friends.   These are people I would not have known otherwise, if not for social media.
Social media does come with its challenges — not everyone ends up being who you thought they were (just like real life), and it can be difficult balancing this hyper-engagement with our offline relationships and activities as well.  But taken as a whole, this new global interconnectivity that is now only possible for the very first time on such a massive scale, offers amazing opportunities for those willing to open themselves up and take the plunge.
Never take yourself too seriously! If you keep having fun, you’ll develop a healthy social media addiction… if you stop loving it, change something!  And usually it’s true that for something to change, you need to change…
“Me, me, me” is a big ugly trap to avoid. Rather than “me” think “us”, thereby making sure connecting with people stays the main thing.
Positive people cannot help but connect – so help people, encourage people, inspire people and make people smile!  Go out of your way to give, give, give and you’ll always have fun with social media and get more back than you could ever give!
The most valuable advice I’ve received relates to how I managed the social pages for my nonprofit, Team Up for Nonprofits.  At the time I was finding it hard to grow the community, a colleague suggested I start personalizing the accounts to connect to people on a more human level.
I applied that advice in three ways: (1) I began to post on the Team Up pages in a far more familiar/friendly/fun tone, (2) re-energized  my personal channels and linked back to Team Up’s pages, (3) made a concerted effort to meet as many people in real life as possible – at one point I had seventy two coffee meetings in three months!
Who knew it would lead to me working in social media.
Many people create a different persona for themselves online.   This may be due to the idea of anonymity or that people won’t likely meet in person.   People tend to do and say things that they otherwise won’t do in person.   When one finally does meet an online connection in person, they may be surprised to find that the person they’re meeting is different from the one they’ve interacted with online.
The best advice I’ve been given is to just be yourself.   When you eventually meet online friends, you won’t surprise them by being a different person offline than your online personality shows.   Great online connections can help foster great offline friendships.
The most valuable social media advice I ever got was – be consistent with your brand – be honest – never tweet a sentiment you do not feel…
Please share the valuable lessons you’ve learned, or social media guidance that have helped you on your path with me and my readers.
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34 Replies to “What is the most valuable social media advice you received?

  1. Great post Ann! One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was to gather fascinating facts about people. These little gems become common ground, not just between you and them, but also the people you can introduce them to. As a connector, you become someone of value to others. It’s the best way to build social equity. ~ Gina

  2. Ann,

    I find value in your posts daily! Thank you. The thing I’ve learned (from Amy Jo Martin) is “show some skin” the being real philosophy is what makes us feel connected, not barking into the abyss.


  3. The best advice I received was from a post at ProBlogger: To have fun.

    It hit me when I saw the post that I wasn’t. I’m a fiction writer. We’re told publishers want us to have a brand on social media, that we should be doing and a blog, etc. We get told how often we should post a blog, how many tweets to send out a day — but when it comes to the execution, that’s kind of a blank. Most tips we get apply to non-fiction, and it likes we’re building a bookcase and being handed instructions and parts for a car and being “It’ll work.” And the worst past is no one has suggestions other than the wrong things, and the fun part is often never mentioned.

    But fun is the starting point.

  4. Great tips. My personal favorite is to engage and retweet someone new each day -expand your circle and welcome new people and ideas. Thanks for the great advice!

    1. Hi Tami,

      This is something I try to practice almost everyday. Another advice is to re-tweet the person twice, they will most likely notice you. ツ


  5. Best piece of advice I ever received (apart from it’s a listening platform NOT a talking platform) was…. “Social media is the one area of business where you don’t need to outspend your competitors in order to beat them”.

    It’s not an arms race for the most fans. It’s ALL about being obsessed with your customers. And loving them to death. Because the brands that CARE the most will win. No matter how big (or small) their budgets are.

  6. Hi Ann,
    You have been my best source of advises so far and they have worked well for me.
    Thanks for bunching up advises from the awesome people ( I follow most of them :))

    Happy tweeting

    1. Hi Calvin,

      So glad you flew to San Francisco to meet all of us, that was so much fun! Thank you for contributing to this post.


  7. I’ve had several:
    From Lotay Yang – “Never set out to do something to prove anything to anyone.”

    From Ruhani Rabin – “It’s less about the blog itself and more about the content. Just keep writing good content.”

    From Clement Yeung – “You can have tons of social media interaction, but if you’re not going to be interacting WITH them, what’s the point?”

    Great post! Worth a bookmark! 😀

  8. Ann,
    Great advice from many I respect!
    I agree with many points…stay true to yourself, follow those with like-minded interests, show your human side. I am consistently amazed at how my Twitter connections have found my way into both my personal and professional lives! Thanks, again.

  9. The give-more-than-you-get rule also worked in pre-digital networking… help someone find a job, introduce potential vendors and clients… do these things before you ask for something.

    1. Hi Kim,

      I like the tip from my buddy… #TwitterTip: Before U ask for RTs, give RT’s first. Prior engagement is key! Show the love 1st. ~ @Iconic88


  10. Great post as always Ann! I am a very big fan of both Scott Stratten (@unmarketing) and Dave Kerpen (@davekerpen of @likeablemedia). Both have great insight. I am adding some of the individuals you highlighted above to my list. Thanks! @jimfield

  11. Ann,

    Thanks for the great advice. One of the items that stuck with me from early on was from the book “Trust Agents”, where they continually emphasized that you need to become “one of us” before we will listen to you, and to keep the the self-promo to less than 5%, the rest of the time you should be adding value to others.


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