Social media seems easy especially because the barrier to entry is low. You can be up and running on any social media platform in minutes, and usually for free. In reality, social media is hard for exactly the same reason. When the barrier to entry is low, the barrier to attention is high.
The fundamental path to succeeding with social media is to consistently contribute meaningfully—engaging with you should make the lives of those engaging more meaningful. The bonus would be to achieve this without adding costs to the others.
As you think through your social media strategy, here are seven unwritten rules of social media.
1. Connection does not imply permission
Many social networks make it easy for you to connect with anyone. You can follow someone on Twitter, Quora or Google Plus without needing their permission to do that. A small percentage of them might follow you back. If they do, you have a two-way connection. Don’t confuse the two-way connection as permission to interrupt them. You need to build a relationship and there is no shortcut for that.
2. Access does not imply entitlement
When you connect with someone on a social network and start engaging with them, you have access. Don’t assume that they owe you something because you are now engaging them on social media.
3. Activity is not productivity
The barrier to create content on a social network is virtually non-existent. This means that you can write whatever you want irrespective of whether it makes sense or not. You can get extremely busy with social media— trying to post anything and everything. In your enthusiasm to share, you might drop the quality of what you share and that’s when the problem starts—people will silently start to ignore you. (To read more, please see 9 ways people respond to your content online.)
4. More is not better
When what you write about is a hit for some reason, you tend to end up doing more of it on social media forgetting that everything has a lifecycle of its own. What’s hot today may not stay hot tomorrow and what’s hot tomorrow may not stay hot. So trying to do more of what works does not guarantee success—you need to adapt all the time.
5. Reciprocation is optional
Don’t do anything with an expectation that someone will reciprocate back. Equal actions don’t create equal impact on social media. Say you have a 1,000 followers and you share something from another person who has 10,000 followers. Expecting him to share something from you would mean you are expecting someone to give back ten times of what you gave them.
6. Amplification without accomplishment is futile
Social media is a great amplifier. But fundamentals of mathematics are always at play. You can multiply zero with anything and the result will still be zero. You need relevant accomplishments as the foundation and social media can help amplify them. Sans accomplishments, it’s hard to amplify. Unless your business is to make money with social media, you have to get out of social media and spend time on building some meaningful accomplishments. Once you have them, you can use those to extend your influence using social media.
7. Engagement without enrichment is not effective
You are only as rich as the enrichment you bring to the world around you. When you enrich someone, you make their life more meaningful—at home or at work or in both places. Social media provides an excellent opportunity enrich people’s lives. Engagement for the sake of engagement can only make you get tired. Engage with an intention to enrich and you will not only win with social media but also makes this world a better place.
Image credit: Totally How To
Rajesh Setty is an entrepreneur, author and speaker based in Silicon Valley. He also creates and sells limited-edition prints at Sparktastic. You can follow him on Twitter at @rajsetty.