In social media, many people are being visible vs. being engaged. Think about it. In order to start a conversation with another person, you have to show up first. But, if all you did was show up, does that action alone create enough curiosity for someone to reach out and talk to you? And, if someone did chat first, would you chat back?
There are a couple of way to be visible. You can create an account in social media and simply watch what others are talking about. You are there, you showed up, and most likely you have found conversation or articles of interest already. Another way would be to create an account, read what others are talking about, and start posting your own thoughts on subject matter. The latter will give you more visibility, for now people can actually see you and your posts in their streams.
Now, picture being an active part of the conversation.
You are still visible, and people can still read your thoughts. Now, you are actively taking part in a conversation about subject matter you are interested in — and people are reading it right now and talking with you.
Active participation does not come without risk. There is risk being in the foreground rather than the background. There is risk putting your thoughts out there for people to scrutinize. There is risk for argument. There is risk for being wrong. You risk when you become actively visible.
When you engage, you become part of something. The word “engage” conjures up images of either a wedding or some kind of meeting, does it not? In either case, it is a reflection of commitment. By joining a conversation, you are committing yourself to the conversation, to your ideas, to becoming part of something.
Here are 5 ways you become more engaged in social media:
- Eyes wide open. When you join a conversation, know as much about that conversation as possible. Is this a subject in which you really want to share your thoughts? What are you going to contribute? If someone asks for facts, can you give them?
- Ask a question. When you read a post or a blog and find something that intrigues you, ask a question about it. Chances are good someone else was thinking about asking that same question but didn’t — not so dissimilar from a classroom where you’ve raised your hand.
- Ask an intentional question. Same idea as #2, except here you are asking a question on purpose to draw out someone’s expertise. You may already know the answer, but asking the author to validate his or her thoughts becomes shared knowledge — something very powerful in the eyes of others.
- Share the knowledge. This may seem old hat, and yet works better on pictures of kitties and puppies. If you read something you found value in, share it with your network. Chances are pretty good someone is looking for that information but did not know where to find it. This increases your value as a resource to your network.
- Ask for questions. When you give someone your business card or brochure, you are giving that person permission to learn more about your product or service by contacting you. Why not ask people for their thoughts on your posts? People are willing to give their opinion, but many are waiting for the permission to do so.
Now it’s your turn! What are some other ways you can think of that can help others get more engaged? Let’s get the conversation going!
Be strategic. Be visible. Be found.