The New Social Golden Rule: Give Unto Others Without Expectation
It’s typical to give in order to get. That’s just human nature, right? Whether it’s in our personal or professional lives, we often give expecting something in return.
My sense is that there is a shift in this mindset occurring—or at least, I hope there is. With the enormous amount of content available and all of the sharing that goes on in social media, I believe we’re moving to the point where we’re becoming more willing to give information for the greater good in exchange for . . . wait for it . . . nothing. That’s right—giving to get nothing. No, I’m not drinking. Well, coffee.
Sure, there is a fair exchange of value in anything we do. But think about this—sharing your thoughts and ideas and expecting nothing in return goes against everything we have been taught. Agencies don’t know what to do with this new medium called social media because they have been so focused on marketing or advertising a product or service in exchange for something in return, like an email address or credit card information.
But what if you looked at social media as a place where you can share your thoughts, ideas, your passions and everything that makes you and your brand tick—and you didn’t ask for anything back? Revolutionary, I know. But I believe that’s the beauty of social media. It’s a place where we can all learn the fine art of giving without expectation. And I also believe that when you are authentic and passionate and really enjoy what you’re doing, people will want to work with you.
And that is where the fair exchange of value comes from.
Here are five ways you can give socially and be truly altruistic in your efforts to promote the free flow of information. I promise you, the rewards will be bigger results in this pay-it-forward medium we call social media.
1) Give insights or free research. Try sharing your expertise or the results of a study. What if you just shared your information, stats and insights liberally and freely because you have something valuable to say socially? Or better yet, share someone else’s research. Try it and watch the magic happen.
2) Share someone else’s information with some passion behind it. For example, a retweet is great. Everyone who tweets lives for the retweet, right? But here’s something better—a thoughtful response. If someone puts their thoughts out there (on Twitter, Facebook, their blog—wherever) and it resonates with you, tell them and everyone else! Add your own thoughts. Let them know that you’re passionate about the same things. Extend the conversation. Give of yourself. If Karma brings something back around someday, cool. But give simply for the purpose of sharing. You can’t live on your own “wall” and expect engagers to come to you.
3) Talk about solutions, not challenges. We’re all so busy talking about the “issues” and why this isn’t working or that won’t happen—pessimism only goes so far before you need to introduce solutions. So I dare you to give more thought into solving the challenges and sharing a fix for the issues. It doesn’t matter if your solution is right, wrong, or somewhere in between. You’ll at least get the conversation headed in the right direction and spur on some positive interaction.
4) Listen and talk through their challenges, not your own. Something about social media makes us all a little narcissistic. We get very inward-focused and want to talk about our stuff, and promote ourselves, and chat up good things happening in our world (not very different from our offline lives) —and what happens? There is suddenly no give and take, no conversation, no engagement. Just us in a one-way conversation. How boring and uninteresting is that? The next time you’re engaging socially, whether online or off, let me challenge you to do this—don’t talk about you. Focus on what you can give, share, teach or encourage, and make it all about the other person. Be careful—this could be habit-forming. You might get a reputation as being thoughtful, helpful or even humble. Yikes.
5) Be excited for others. I know—when a competitor succeeds somehow, there’s that twinge of “that could have been me.” I get it. But rise above that and celebrate others’ successes and triumphs. Sincerely congratulate when the occasion calls for it. Pat people on the back. Give a few social high-fives. Pump people up when they’re doing something great. Be excited for others’ successes, whether it’s a competitor, a client, a customer or even one of your Twitter followers. Be authentically excited. You’ll be amazed at the energy you will help to create.
Key Takeaway: Social media is the perfect place to share knowledge, insights, expertise and information without expecting anything in return. Giving without getting anything back goes against our human nature, but try it once and see what happens. Your reputation may thank you. And you may eventually meet your new best friend, Karma.