patootie, you're probably trying to find your way through this new social media stuff. It can be quite scary but getting involved online can be a rewarding and enriching experience. More and more relationships, contacts, business dealings and daily interactions occur online. But how do we tell if our interactions are as effective as we'd like them to be? How do we maximize our experience?
Relax, I have done a study. After vast seconds of concentrated thought I've broken down four distinct areas that will ensure your online experience will be a rewarding one. I call it "Find your social media flower":
Language. Believe it or not, a full quarter (that's roughly 25%) of online success, and 100% of online failures happen because of the written word. Brush up on your spelling and grammar (for instance, know the difference between we're, were, where and wear). And, you may swear a blue streak with your buds over pints but this type of behavior, where the impressionable amongst us can access our posts, is a definite no-no (and I'm not talking about hair removal). Keep potty talk for your significant other, best friends or unsuspecting colleagues.
Attitude. Words can be easily misinterpreted; especially the written kind. Things we say in real life can be tempered with a sly smile but there is no such redemption online (BTW: smiley faces don't cut it). The dividing line between being seen as smart and smart alecky is a fine one. Oh, and personal animosities with politics, religion, members of the opposite sex, and/or hamsters with hockey tape fetishes are best kept offline, where people can cover their ears and sing "Lalalalala" loudly so they don't have to listen.
Appeal. Droning on about something that people lost interest in in 1965, making rude or disparaging remarks, writing off-color comments, or constantly quoting famous dead people (including but not exclusive to Mr. Rogers) out of context are major online faux pas. There may not be an ability to smell online (although I have been experimenting with "smell-o-media") but a remembered stink is often worse than the real thing. And besides, no one really wants to know how many times you puked on your shoes last night... except maybe your next date or a future employer.
Focus. Forgetting to wear pants in your daily life or acting dumb on television can be funny and entertaining. But online is a different kettle of fish. People just won't put up with someone who makes no sense, or replies constantly with responses like "LOL, awesome, that's just tooooooo funny". Doing so will undoubtedly affect your online credibility in a see-through manner (and not the good kind). All this accomplishes is to inspire thousands of people to shout "Busted!" out loud in their offices, living rooms and internet cafés around the world.
So now you know. Your online experience is what you make of it. By following the above suggestions and sending me a dollar in small bills, you too can blossom and be a social media flower. (Where's my pants?)