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What I learned from my Mom about social media

Mom’s are full of advice. Along the way, we begin to realize that were actually right about a lot of it.  And alot of  Mom’s advice is about realtionships too. My wedding anniversary was a couple of weeks ago, so I couldn’t help reflecting on some of the advice I’ve gotten from my Mom over the years. And as I got started, I realized..”Hey! There are some social media lessons here too!”

As I started to think about my own Mom, I realized that long before I understood myself, she actually DID know what was best for me. For example, Mom’s help us define ourselves. At best, they are the cheerleaders for the real “us” fighting to get out. Finding what works for you, means being open to the real “you”. The idea that there is no other “you” and so no one can really give you a recipe for 100% success. What they CAN do is give you ideas, guidelines, encouragement. In Business its the same, and it also includes case studies and evidence of success…but at the end of the day, applying all of that wisdom may or may not work for you.

Social media is like that. Just like that. Let’s face it: if your gonna be married to your business, its high-time you gave some thought to how to make it really successful. So, today, in honor of my Mommy dearest,  I give you a mother-load of advice, and the social media lessons I learned from my Mom.

Find someone who makes you a better you. You. Only better.

Social media has the potential to celebrate your community, your business, your brand, but like a hen-pecking wife or a controlling husband, it can also take those things you love most about yourself and make you believe they aren’t worth celebrating. Finding the right social media mix will always start in much the same way as your search for the perfect “other”. First you have to decide who you want to be…then you can find the match that makes it you 2.0. So before digging into the social media dating pool, do yourself and your business a little favor and dig deep to find the inner brand. What makes your company special? What stories do you have to tell? Your social media match will take all the things that are great about your business and make them better. Take an inventory of all things right and exciting and think about how you might share those pieces …and why your customers might care or want to get involved with those stories.

Decide if marriage is right for you.

Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. But especially if you decide that it IS for you…its time for a little soul searching. What do I need to be a good husband/wife? What will my future spouse need from me so they can be the best they can be? What do I want my life to look like? Will it include kids?  You may or may not ever know all the answers to these questions..in fact, half the fun of the journey are the pieces that are revealed along the way. The important things about this particular soul searching is that 1) you seek to find answers 2) you understand that you don’t even know the known unknowns. Social media often reveals its potential in funny ways, but before that happens, you should be asking if you have the desire and resources to create a community and maintain a community. Are you ready to learn the answers to the questions you didn’t even know to ask?  What will you do if you get into it and decide it isn’t for you? Is building a community and abandoning it better or worse than never having built it at all? Ask yourself if social media is even the right fit for your objectives, audience and resources.

Be Kind.

This actually didn’t come from my Mom..it came from our wedding. The officiant at our wedding urged us to always be kind to one another. How simple. How quaint. But seriously, have you ever tried to be kind to someone you live with in every interaction..its a huge challenge. And..yes, so it is with social media. If you’re being kind to your community, you’re thinking about what makes it work for them. What can you do to make the experience more enjoyable…and even when they tell you that you are as rotten as a 10 year-old egg, you accept the criticism with grace, humility and apology with a commitment to rectifying the situation. Thanking people falls into this category too. Go ahead. Be Kind.

Accept the imperfections. Embrace them.

You won’t find the perfect spouse. You won’t be one either (unless of course you’re me…in which case you are doing a mighty fine job). But regardless of the imperfections, there is joy. Imperfections are human. If you want to really embrace social media and your brand, embrace your imperfections. Don’t expect that every moment is picture perfect. Its OK. People like the idea that behind a brand, are a real, unscripted person(s). When you mess up – say so. But don’t be so hard on yourself and expect that you’ll never have a typo or a unexpected reaction. In fact, much like a spousal argument can lead to greater understanding and strength, from imperfections, come some very interesting opportunities.

Listen.

Yep. There it is again. I’ve said it before I’ll say it again. My Dad always told me “you won’t learn a thing from yammering on.” Of course, he would then yammer on about all the things I had to learn (apples DON’T fall far from the tree do they?). Alas, he was right.  Its easy to listen, but hard to hear. Really hearing what someone is saying means actively participating in the listening process (instead of thinking about what you are going to say next) But the truth is, about 80% of the benefit you’ll receive from social media is from listening. So put your ear to the ground and prepare to be amazed to learn a lot about your community – current and potential customers.

Ask questions.  Make your significant other/spouse feel like you care enough to ask.

Sometimes, when we get into that comfort zone of a relationship, we assume we know how the other person feels so we don’t ask. Ahh yes. The old “ASS-out of-U and Me” syndrome. Well, we do it in business too, don’t we? We often assume expect that we already know our customer..after all..who knows better than us who are customers are? Haven’t we been having conversations with our customers all along? Didn’t we START the business knowing our customers? Perhaps.  But, social media allows you to take a deeper look and get to know your customers better. Sometimes the outlier view is the real headscratcher, but its a learning opportunity none the less. Go ahead – make them feel like you care. Ask them what they liked about the experience, product or idea? Your customers may just be the source of your next big idea. Its OK – you can give them credit. Hey, there’s a campaign in there somewhere!

PS: Yes, that really is a picture of my Mom. I think she’s cute as hell..even though she doesn’t read this blog. =)

Drawing to a close, I’d like to refer to my earlier post this week about the #1 rule in social media. Your Mom’s advice may vary from mine..and it might be better for you! The point is, think about the experience of engagement with your customers. Really think about it…and chances are…you’ll find your OWN mother’s advice in there somewhere. And tell me…what lesson did your Mom teach you that you apply to your social media practice today?!

2 comments
taracoomans
taracoomans

Hi Julia - thanks for reading and commenting! I think you make an excellent point, that social media reveals many surprises, but they are always worth doing!

Julia
Julia

Tara! You are so right on about launching a new social media initiative. You don't know who will show up or what exactly it will be. Always a surprise, but always worth doing. An education.