As 2012 comes to a close, I want to thank all of you who read my blog, hang out on my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, check out my images on Instagram, look at the crafts that I will never make on Pinterest and watch all of my videos on YouTube. You have engaged with me as I talk about topics such as social media etiquette, privacy issues, entrepreneurialism and, of course, my fabulous and loving Labradoodle, Raegan. I am so very thankful for your interaction during 2012.
For the past week or two, I have been thinking about my final post for the year. My last post for both 2010 and 2011 followed an A-to-Z format. I really love consistency so my initial thought was to do the same thing this year. I decided against it, though. No, I didn’t worry about getting stuck on “X” because the social media world welcomed the arrival of Xander Vaynerchuk, Gary Vaynerchuk’s second child. Thanks to the Vaynerchuks, I had no doubt that I could get through the entire alphabet.
I have learned so much over the past year that I want to write about 12 lessons that I learned during ’12. Here they are, in no particular order:
- Friendships are just a click away. Whether you use social media to keep in touch with established friendships or to make new ones, social media provides us with the amazing opportunity of keeping in touch with people as much or as little as we want. When you sign online, the world is, literally, at your fingertips. New friendships can be started just about every day so the possibilities are almost endless if you make an interactive effort.
- Social media can be used for social good. During 2012, I have seen and participated in many online fundraisers, charitable causes and events to benefit others. Social media is a very strong tool that can change the world for the better. Be transparent. Share your story and share your needs. You might just be surprised by how the online universe pulls together to help people.
- Be careful with your images. When you upload a photo to Instagram (with Instagram connected to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare), you might as well be saying, “Here, world! Have at it.” You lose that photo. I had something interesting happen with a photo recently. Someone blocked me on Facebook about a year and a half ago. For whatever reason, that same person gave me a holiday gift. I was very surprised when the gift was a photo of me that was pulled from a social network. The fact that this person severed our Facebook relationship and then sought out an image of me not only creeped me out but also made me realize that I made a choice. I made a choice about a photo that captured a special moment in time and then that photo wound up in the wrong hands. If you care about your privacy, guard your images.
- Use common sense when it comes to other people’s images and content. I have to follow up the previous lesson with this one. Information, in a lot of instances, is meant to be shared but that doesn’t mean that discretion should be thrown out the window. Think about what you are doing. Are you applying common courtesy? Are you using the information in a way in which the source intended? Are you using other people’s images and content in a way in which you would want yours used?
- There is no “real” privacy when it comes to social media. This is our world now and we have to get used to it.
- Follow your children online. I can’t stress this enough. I have had so many parents ask me what to do in different circumstances when they have found their children using social media inappropriately. I applaud those parents because they know what their children are doing and they are looking for help and answers. Imagine all of the parents who have no idea what their children are doing (and with whom) online.
- Your entire network does not need to see all of your content. I love my Facebook friends and I see something special in each person with whom I’m connected. However, that doesn’t mean that every single person needs to see every piece of information or every photo that I share. I am extremely specific with my privacy settings and, as time passes, I get more and more detail-oriented with who gets to see what, how much and how often. Yes, I do realize that they are not fool-proof but I do my best. Do NOT feel like you have to share everything with everyone. You can set limits and boundaries. I think that using Facebook appropriately requires a certain level of sophistication. There are times when the people with whom I am very close offline aren’t privy to pieces of content online. I learn, each day, what people can manage and I adjust my settings accordingly.
- Do not be afraid to unfriend or unfollow people. It is not your job to be friends with the world. Period.
- Block people with caution. I have written extensively about this topic and I receive more comments and questions about this issue than I do about anything else that I have ever written. Unless danger is involved, blocking shows immaturity and an inability to handle the social space. My feeling is that I would rather know if someone can see my information instead of wondering if the person who I find offensive is using a friend’s account to see my content. As someone once advised me with regards to social media, “Friends close. Enemies closer.” I don’t necessarily agree with having enemies (even if some people are hell-bent on making you one) but I do agree with this statement.
- Grammar matters. I have known this all along but it is a lesson that is very relevant to me right now. I am a fan of an emerging brand and I am beyond excited to share its content. However, I can’t. The very first word of the very first title of the very first post is spelled incorrectly. I don’t want to embarrass the brand and I also don’t want to damage my own brand by passing along content that was put together in a hasty manner. A little attention to detail goes a long way.
- Social share plugins on blogs are critical. I can’t tell you how many times I have read articles, gone to tweet or share them and then realized that there was no way to do so. I quickly move to the next article and the first one winds up getting overlooked. I’m not sure why this is happening. I didn’t notice this issue so much in 2011. The only reason I can imagine for this is that blogs are so easy to start now and people who are tech savvy AND those who are not-so-tech savvy are writing them. Perhaps the not-so-tech savvy people simply don’t know the importance of plugins. If you want people to pass along your latest and greatest and drive traffic to your site, the plugins need to be in place. If you aren’t sure how to install plugins, please feel free to ask and I would be happy to make recommendations. The plugin process is easy for me and they are definitely worth it. The world wants to hear from you so make sure that you are shareable!
I would like to share one last “bonus lesson” for good luck! There is always more to learn. If you enjoy learning then you will never be bored with social media because it changes so quickly. This is true for just about any niche, though. On any given day, you can do a search for whatever interests you and you will, most likely, find new information to stimulate your mind. Think about what piques your curiosity, search for it, and continually quench your thirst for knowledge!
Of course, I learned much more than a handful of bullet points during 2012 but these are just a sample of what I am taking away from this year.
Entering 2013, I am excited to see what else there is to learn and what lessons are in store for me. From the bottom of my heart (and my keyboard), I wish you a happy, healthy, and safe new year. May it be filled with love, happiness, prosperity, and success. May your worries and concerns vanish out of sight and may your hopes and dreams turn into realities. I look forward to sharing a new year with you all. Cheers to 2013! -LH