Social Media: 3 No-No’s + One Big Yes.

Green, Just Life, Politics, Work 18 3

Brewed in a hot tub.

My husband’s colleague and marketing ,exec Bill, urged me to hop onto the social media wagon a few years ago—just months after I launched myEARTH360.com. I had heard about facebook, which struck me as blah blah blah nonsense for tweens and teens who can’t keep their hands or eyes or minds off their smart phones. Since we were in a hot tub in Napa Valley during a swanky business trip (stop right there with the funny ideas: my husband and Bill’s wife were soaking in the tub, too), the idea didn’t immediately sink in. It marinated in my brain back to the Chicagoland ‘burbs where I live without a hot tub.

Side note: I tried to find out the exact date I started facebook by scrolling through my past status updates. Eighteen minutes later, I asked my facebook friends:

Gotta love it, no? I got the answer within the hour. Well, sort of. Facebook only let me go back to 2008 and it didn’t seem like my first post at all.

Some no-no’s.

Suffice it to say, I had no idea what to do ‘back then’. I updated my status here and there with inane statements like, “I just drank my smoothie. Yum yum.” I stumbled and committed social media faux pas that I didn’t even know existed. I learned what not to do:

  1. Do not post links to blog posts or (especially) products in other friends’ convo’s-in-progress. Especially if you don’t really know-know the friend.
  2. Do not tag random people. Unless you know-know them.
  3. Do not post more than once an hour. This will likely annoy the heck out of some people who will a) hide your posts and never see a post from you again unless they happen to go to your page, b) de-friend you or c) remain annoyed because they don’t want to hurt your feelings by doing a or b.

How did I learn these no-no’s? One social media consultant Jerry James Stone—who I did not know-know—told me via facebook message. I am forever grateful for his kind reprimand. He could have simply un-friended me. But my social media misconduct didn’t end until another one or two more friends slapped me on the virtual wrist. Why did my misconduct continue at all? I wanted to believe Jerry was the exception. Why change my behavior based on one guy who I didn’t know-know? Wouldn’t most find my eco links nestled within their already-in-progress-convo’s valuable instead of intrusive? In most cases, no. No.

There are plenty more no-no’s out there, but the 3 I listed are fundamental.

One big yes.

In the beginning, my facebook interactions were rigid. Unsure. I posted something about Al Gore— ‘my hero’—and a social media consultant (not Jerry) gave me some free advice (the free advice ended when he figured out I had no budget to hire him). “I wouldn’t mention Al Gore,” he said. Why not? He explained that many people hate Al Gore and I shouldn’t associate myself with him. So, taking this advice to heart, I began posting things carefully so as not to offend or lead people to think I might disagree with them. My status updates and links were selective and polite. As the founder of an eco-friendly product website, didn’t I have to portray myself as a professional first and foremost? That’s what I believed. For a while.

Thanks to the magic of facebook, I met some more experienced social media people and found out that—grab a pen and paper—I just had to be myself. (Special thanks to Michael Q. Todd—you have taught me a lot). Who wouldda thought? It took me a while to loosen up and just be me. And once I did, turns out a lot of people like me for who I am. Many people appreciate my passion for the environment and social issues. Some do not. I catch a fair amount of flack, but that’s inevitable if you put yourself—your real self—out there. Unless you’re Mother Therese.

photo by jasonjhr via flickr.com

It can be fun.

This is the downside in my case. Because most days, I can’t wait to hop onto Facebook and Twitter. This distracts me from writing, which is what I really want to do. So the key is to find balance. Here are some tips, which I have yet to master because, quite simply, I am a socialmedia-aholic. Like all things, moderation is key.

  • If you’re new to social media, start with one or 2 sites until you’re in a groove. I recommend starting with Facebook and/or google+. If you’re a professional, be sure to set up a profile on LinkedIn.
  • Don’t turn the computer on until you’ve written out 1 thing you want to accomplish via social media that day plus 2 tasks you want to tackle that have nothing to do with social media. This will help you focus on what you’re doing in the socialmediasphere.
  • Dive in; be present in each task. Avoid multi-tasking as that is not necessarily productive.
  • Turn off all other distractions. Music is okay, but avoid the phone or email. Turn off the sound on your cell phone!
  • Step away from working (whether folding laundry or making widgets) every hour or 90 minutes to do something else. Get away from your computer and/or office. Look out a window. Pet your dog or cat. Walk around the office or, better yet, outdoors. If possible, take 15 to 30 minutes downtime.
  • Check email 1-3 times a day, unless you’re expecting an urgent message that can’t wait a few hours for your response.
  • Set a time at night where you shut down all electronics. Your creativity will be better for it.

Good for people and planet.

This is the part I love best. I’ve connected to people and causes around the globe and have found myself working side-by-side with amazing people I would have never known had it not been for social media. I’ve learned about and helped raised awareness about women’s and children’s issues; environmental concerns that will impact our (and more importantly, our children’s) health and general quality of life; clean water and sanitation initiatives; and much more.

Currently, I’m helping to spread the word about a cool social media site, mygreenface.com, and the Plant 25,000 Trees campaign.

You can make a difference.

It doesn’t take loads of money or even time. You can spend 10 minutes or 50 hours. Connect to people who inspire you. Share stories and information that provide value to others. Cliche alert! Each small stone cast into the sea has a ripple effect and your connections—even if it’s just 1 or 2 of them—may be inspired to share something with their network. To reach one person can have a profound impact. But don’t take yourself too seriously. Be you.

I will, no doubt, rack up more social media snafus in the future. And learn from them (hopefully). If you’re not a social media addict like me, I may appear to be an expert. I can certainly show social media newbies the ropes.

I am happy to report that my business has over 5,000 facebook fans and 141 shy of 10,000 twitter followers. I have yet to get into the google+ habit. What? You haven’t heard about google+? You will, in time. I’m registered on foursquare but don’t use it so don’t be offended if I don’t friend you back. I’d like to spend more time on mygreenface.com, the environmental community “where socializing leads to action.”

I’d love to hear about your social media snafus and triumphs. Please comment below!

About the author / 

Lynn

Lynn (the founder of this blog) lives in Chicagoland with her son, husband and two cats. She loves sunrises, running, yoga, chocolate, NYR, reading and writing, Her very survival depends on comedy. In her spare time, she avoids household duties (especially folding laundry) and tries to write. Some call her a treehugger, others say she's a social media addict. You'll most likely find her on twitter (@LynnHasselbrgr, @myEARTH360 and @IC4ME) and facebook. She hopes to make the world a better place, have more fun, re-develop her math skills and overcome her fear of public speaking.

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18 Comments

  1. michaelqtodd September 14, 2011 at 3:53 pm -  Reply

    I am so impressed with you every day Lynn!
    Will check out mygreenface.com

    • Lynn Hasselberger September 14, 2011 at 6:21 pm -  Reply

      Thanks Michael! Cheers to you Mr. Social Media Man!

  2. Nakeva September 14, 2011 at 7:47 pm -  Reply

    Lynn, you ran down a really good list of no’s, yes’s and even offered a strategy. The time it takes someone to “get” social media and use it always circles back to their level of comfort with being open. Somewhere along the way I lost my fear of sharing with the world and decided if Google rank’s content and people share to the web, I may as well be in the driver’s seat on what is known about me if found in a search.

    I still dabble with tools and strategies between social media sites to find the spot for a good groove of sharing for business vs. personal information. So far, the success has come not from what I share but buy the reactions from people that find it valuable. Keep up the good work with your social media and your love for the earth!

    • Lynn Hasselberger September 16, 2011 at 4:14 pm -  Reply

      Thanks, Nakeva. And just when we think we “get” social media, they throw more options/features at us. Sometimes I feel like my brain will implode. That’s something I didn’t really address–how do we keep up with it all? And how do we know when its right to check out another networking site? How many networks can we truly be a part of before reaching a point of diminishing returns?
      Cheers to you!

  3. stefanobossi September 14, 2011 at 8:00 pm -  Reply

    Great job Lynn! Tweeted and shared :)

    • Lynn Hasselberger September 16, 2011 at 4:10 pm -  Reply

      Thanks, Stefano! Appreciate you sharing. Cheers!

  4. Peter Wright September 14, 2011 at 8:27 pm -  Reply

    Good blueprint for behaving correctly on social media sites Lynn. I think it can sometimes be a good thing to be a bit controversial though, gets the conversation going.

    • Lynn Hasselberger September 16, 2011 at 4:09 pm -  Reply

      Thanks, Peter. Right on about the controversy… igniting conversations about important topics is key if we’re going to make a difference in the world.

  5. livinggreenmag September 16, 2011 at 10:48 am -  Reply

    excellent advice lynn as always…and thanks for the plug. ;^ )

    • Lynn Hasselberger September 16, 2011 at 4:08 pm -  Reply

      Always happy to plug great things! Cheers to you, Marco!

  6. Bill Tyson September 16, 2011 at 2:20 pm -  Reply

    Lynn, Bill here. I am so grateful that you listened to me in 2008 following my presentation on Web 2.0 and the importance of social media. To most in the audience, my advice fell on deaf ears but not you! You have become a Social Diva!

    Your list of tips is excellent!

    Per your request, here are 5 tips for maximizing Linked In:
    1. Absolutely complete your professional profile. Doing so will improve your search engine page ranking. Also, make sure you have the most important key words in your profile title. For example, since I am in the direct marketing consulting business, I want to be a top ranking when a prospective client People searches the key words “direct marketing”. One of my professional triumphs is that I am now the number one ranking for that important 2 word search term. (Your husband will appreciate that!).
    2. Send invites – Make as many relevant Linked In connections as possible. I have over 3,000 1st level connections which gives me access to 15.5 million people that can be introduced to me.
    3. Join relevant groups. For example, I belong to the maximum number of groups – 50. Also, if you are looking for a job, join recruiter groups. For example, Confluence is Insurance related recruiter group. ExecuNet is a group of recruiters and I became an associate member. Connect with as many people in the groups, particularly those who have a lot of connections.
    4. Participating and Activity is important too. Makes sure your activities broadcast setting is turned on so all can see your updates. Share articles into the groups (via discussions). Start and join discussions. Use the poll feature for surveys. Be a subject matter expert in Linked In Answers.
    5. Use Apps like Amazon reading list, Trip it and update them periodically. Link your word press blog to your linked in profile and use the Linked in Resume Builder.

    Any questions, feel free and send me a Linked In invite. See http://www.linkedin.com/in/billtyson

    • Lynn Hasselberger September 16, 2011 at 4:06 pm -  Reply

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Bill, and providing some fantastic tips for maximizing Linked In. Cheers!

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