By Marylene Delbourg-Delphis
Most of us are frequenting social networks. However, 1) habit sometimes makes us become careless or sloppy and 2) we usually have signed up on sites at varying times and as a result we often end up coming across as a composite character. Being social is more than just signing up on social platforms: it is about understanding the "Art of Social," which entails leveraging the idiosyncrasies of each platform, honing our skills on each of them as well as managing our social life with a purpose.
The twelve chapters of The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick are informational, practical, entertaining, well illustrated and definitely worth the time you will spend reading them: they will help you move from your (most likely) makeshift virtual presence to a harmonized social reality that transparently merges with and expands our real-world presence.
The heart of the book is about who you are as a social media person and how to best communicate. It's also about you as an individual or as a business professional or both.
The book starts with the beginning of your profile and ends with your portrait as shaped by the digital assets that you amass over time.
I like the fact that Guy and Peg do not hesitate to open with the very foundation of our identity on social networks. When you first started using social platforms, you may have been too fancy or simply reluctant to say who you were. The days when social media skittishness was common are over. It may be time for you to drop the strange avatar that you picked a few years ago, feel more at ease, take responsibility for who you are, and come across as somebody people will want to follow or be associated with.
How effective and memorable is your screen name? How do you look on your picture? What's your mantra? How consistent are you across the various platforms you frequent? In short "an effective profile is vital because people use it to make a snap judgment about your account" and ultimately about you. Just as in real life, first impressions count and how you deliver on these first impressions will count just as much. So follow the book's excellent advice: use the incognito window to check how you come across.
The book is loaded with practical tips on how to best deliver on your persona — and even reminds you on what’s best to wear in a Google hangout: "Video cameras do strange things to clothes that contain complex patterns and stripes. The effect is called “moiré,” and it looks like waviness in the video. The way to prevent this is to wear clothes without patterns and to stick to solid colors."
Your social existence is a continuously expandable. Social networks are complementary venues that enable you to express the multiple facets of who you are, see more of the world at large and meet people whom you never expected to encounter. In the end, your social presence will enable you to connect faster when you meet in person the people you follow or who follow you. Virtual is a fast path to an enhanced connection to the physical world: "Social media can help you start, build, and maintain relationships with people all over the world. But meeting people face-to-face can make your relationship even stronger and better."
Social networks are the place where you can augment your influence and because of this, it's a personality/business amplifier.
How and what do you communicate?
When we first start on social media, we wonder about what to share and if what we think is worth sharing. This behavior is largely conditioned by the fact that in our daily lives, we are rarely asked for our opinion and point-of-view and rarely involved in collaborative exchanges. However, in 2015, most of us have been able to see the exponential growth of "shares," which has encouraged us to swim with the tide and made us realize that presence on social networks is not simply about us, but just as much about how we interact with others. Social is less about ego marketing and more about interpersonal skills, less about self-affirmation of one's originality and more about contributing to a collaborative content value chain. E pluribus unum!
As a result, in addition to providing guidance on how to best word your post, the book offers invaluable recommendations on the art of feeding "the content monster."
Content curation may sound like an easy path to feed that "monster," yet it's also a way for you to demonstrate your openness, your desire to belong as well as your charisma: "it involves finding other people’s good stuff, summarizing it, and sharing it. Curation is a win-win- win: you need content to share; blogs and websites need more traffic, and people need filters to reduce the flow of information." Associate yourself with great curators and leverage multiple curation and aggregation services, such as Alltop, HolyKaw, Buffer, Google Scholar, SmartBrief, LinkedIn Influencers, Scoopit, Newsle, etc. Take a look at the extensive list provided at the end of the book!
You can read the Art of Social Media as a book "On Rhetoric, or the Art of Eloquence" for today's social environment with its own guidelines on convincing and influencing, reacting and letting it go, on conciseness and likeability. Writing a perfected short post or sharing images on social media entail a global communication style associated with solid fast reading skills as well as image decoding aptitudes. Becoming a super social media star is just as complex as becoming a great author. The book gives you all the tips you need to attract a loyal following base and create an integrated social media and blogging presence. In the end, however, your personal talent and your hard work will do the rest...
Ultimately, always remember that "social" is "social" regardless of the medium, be it virtual as social networks or any physical place; so understanding that you are in a communal environment with its rules and manners is essential, even if you do not communicate with your entire base but only with certain groups, circles or lists. If you want to come across as asocial or antisocial, it's your choice, but this may not be the most effective approach to command attention Enchant your followers and enjoy yourself!