Entering Social Spaces Online

Seems like each week there are new social media spaces to join and participate in. And lots of people help others learn and adopt online social practices. Each space has its own nuance on social practices. There are general rules of thumb, sure. But each site – even a cluster within a site – is specific in the way it encourages flows of connection and information, and thus which practices are encouraged. So how do you know what to do where?

I see lots of do and don’t lists, and they are great. Very helpful if you want a rulebook to follow. But if you want to learn the skill of adapting as you enter spaces, the work you do needs to go deeper into your practice. What questions should you ask yourself when joining and contributing to online social spaces?

Be strategic. Social media is a huge flow of information and people often very loosely knit together. What do you want to foster? Disregard fads of tools and spaces. What you do with your extremely precious time needs to be purposeful. Do you want: friends, information, a thriving network to use as a resource, marketing your [fill in the blank]? How will you know when you have that? How will you maintain it over time? Social spaces online just like physical social spaces require your attention to stay alive and flourishing.

Listen. Like I shared above, each space has its own social norms. Yes, there are general rules, but if you lurk before blasting posts, you can get a sense of how often to post, ways to appreciate others, ways to find interesting people and ideas, ways to avoid trouble, what puts people off… How do people behave in this space using this tool? What best practices can you collect? Sense into what is working for you in other people’s social practice. What gets you engaged there? How can you offer or connect, mirroring what worked for you?

Applaud. In speech we often give praise or acknowledgment with our faces. We nod or even just keep eye-contact. There are zillions of body clues. And they don’t show online. At all. Not even with emoticons. How can you show you are listening? How can you show that you are giving your attention to someone or something? How can you show you are a contributor? How can you help others shine? Where can you quickly, easily, and usefully connect people, ideas, and resources? If the general principle of social relations is truly get what you give, then what are you giving?

What questions wander through your mind when you are visiting new online social spaces?
What really irritates you as a social practice?
How do you quickly and easily sense a spammer, a connector, a maven, an influencer?

Your answers help you figure how how you want to be online. And they create an opportunity for you to be genuine in your practice.

Here are some resources for you that I saw on twitter today:
Top 10 Reasons Brands should Listen to Social Media
The Creation of Twitter Best Practices: Round 1