The 12 Elements of the Social Media Mindset


Photo Courtesy: LukePDQ on Flickr

The “social” in social media is what sets social media apart from other kinds of media.

To succeed with social media, you begin with cultivating a social media mindset.

Here are 12 elements that you can focus on to build the right mindset for participating and succeeding with social media.

1. Caring

As the old saying goes, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Just to be clear – it is implied that “caring” here refers to caring about others and NOT caring about yourself. You will always care about yourself so you won’t get brownie points for demonstrating that to the world.

When you genuinely care about helping others, it shows up in everything that you put out there.

Soon the world will reciprocate and magic happens.

[ Note: Please read Ways to Distinguish Yourself #1 – Care as if it’s your own to see an example of how caring gives you more power ]

2. Curiosity

Who do you find interesting?

  1. Someone who is interesting
  2. Someone who is interested you
  3. Someone who is interested in you AND is interesting

It can be #2 or #3 but it is rarely #1.

When you are NOT curious about others, you SKIP listening to what others care about (as you are mostly focused on yourself.) When you don’t listen to what they care about, you simply can’t care about what they care about.

So it starts with curiosity. That’s the first step.

[ Note: Please read – Ways to Distinguish Yourself #121 Learn to exploit innovations ]

3. Contribution

You need to bring something to the party. And it better be valuable. Participation in social media is great but participation with real contribution makes it even better.

There are people who shy away from social media citing there is “too much noise.” They are right and wrong. Yes, there is too much noise. But no, that is not the reason to shy away from social media. In fact, that may be the reason for you to jump right in – make valuable contributions and increase the signal-to-noise ratio out there.

[ Note: Please read The 6 Levels of Engagement in Online Conversations to see how meaningful contribution increases the level of engagement ]

4. Content

Content is the bedrock of any social media participation – be it a blog post, a podcast, a video or a tweet – all you are doing is creating content. If you consistently produce compelling content that takes care of the concerns of your audience, you have a winner there.

Producing great content takes time and producing great content that that is entirely focused on your audience takes MORE time. You can treat that as “work” or you can treat that as an “investment.” That latter would give you more power.

[ Note: Please read 9 Ways People Respond to Your Content Online to get some tips on how to design your content]

5. Clarity

Clarity goes both ways. It is implied that great content already means that it is clear.

I was looking at clarity from the viewpoint of your audience. Right now in the areas that matter to them, they are looking for “clarity.” Whatever they want to do, there are multiple options or choices and if your content helps them clarify things, they will love it.

Your content is valuable if it moves someone from “confusion” to “clarity.” Confusion eats away someone’s MOST valuable resource – TIME. If you are content helps clear that confusion, you have given them a gift.

[ Please read: Ways to Distinguish Yourself #82 – Connect the unknown to the known ]

6. Conversation

In social media, you win with engagement. Engagement is a higher level of emotional connection. It starts with conversation. A conversation is where two or more people are listening and talking. Both listening and talking are important to fully participate in social media.

The more you are engaged in conversations that will increase the collective capacity of the participants, higher your own return in this investment.

Every conversation is important. As my favorite author Susan Scott says in her insightful book “Fierce Conversations” – “The conversation is the relationship, and – while no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career, a company, a relationship, or a life – any single conversation can.”

7. Creativity

The barrier to entry for social media is almost nothing – meaning anybody can get into social media anytime. So you need to do SOMETHING to set yourself apart from the crowd. That’s where you creativity comes in.

Stretch your imagination and get your creative juices flowing. Spend a few extra minutes to see if there is another angle to saying the exact thing that you were going to say.

What can you do to make what you are saying more interesting?

Make that “extra” investment to get those “extra” rewards.

[ Please read: Ways to Distinguish Yourself #123 – Find a second reason to do anything significant to see one way of stretching your imagination ]

8. Character

Character here is your personality and your personal brand. Who you are comes across more strongly than what you say and who you are seriously influences how what you say is perceived by others.

The stronger your personal  brand, more the weightage to what you say Рthis means not only you have to invest in social media, you have to invest on yourself to grow and be better.

[ Please read: Personal Branding for Technology Professionals (eBook, 40 pages, FREE) for some discussions on personal branding ]

9. Community

You can’t scale great heights alone. You need the community to help you. If you look at it another way, the community needs you – as others in the community also can’t scale great heights alone.

Whatever you can do to help make the community stronger will benefit everyone in the community.

Things are interconnected when it comes to how you work within a community. Your level of influence goes up with the level of your caring and contribution. As the level of your contribution goes up, it becomes easier to make more valuable contributions. it is a virtuous cycle.

If you want to do a quick test about your level of engagement with the community, ask yourself this question:

If I disappear from the community today, how big of a VOID will I create in the community?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question but whatever that answer is, it should give you a pretty good indication of the value that you bring to the community.

10. Courage

There are two distinct ways to participate in social media – one on the stands and one on the playground. Things get more interesting when you are on the playground than when you are on the stands.

The way to get on the playground is to take a stand on something meaningful. That requires confidence and courage. Taking a stand is a package deal. You automatically belong to a tribe that has a stand similar to yours on one end. On the other end, you alienate people who don’t take a stand similar to yours. You need the courage to deal with it.

11. Change

If the world is changing fast, the sub-system of social media is changing super-fast. What was super-cool yesterday is commodity today and history tomorrow.

Tools, practices and engagement models all change. The philosophy and principles may remain but the way they they manifest changes quickly.

If you want to succeed with social media, you don’t adapt to change, you embrace it, live with it and if you are good, you will probably influence change with your ideas and contributions.

12. Commitment

Beverly Sills said it right – “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” Because there are few barriers to entry for social media, it seems like you can easily succeed with social media. Unfortunately, what you see is only the tip of the iceberg. Social Media does not make anything easy. It may make things faster but not easy.

Think of social media as an “amplifier” of what you do. If you have a significant contribution to make, social media can amplify that contribution. However, you need to set yourself for making that significant contribution. That requires a serious commitment.

You are also MORE exposed once you are a player in social media – meaning you need a higher level of commitment to keep living up to the implicit promises that you are making with your new personal brand.

[ Please read: The 7 Kinds of Relationship to Social media ]

All the best!