In today’s busy and noisy world, our three most valuable assets are time, attention and being human. None of us have enough time for our family, business, and other passions. We’re always being pushed and pulled in multiple directions at the same time. Our customers and clients feel the same way.
In this post, I’m going to show you seven social media superpowers that will make you faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and help you leap tall buildings in a single bound on social media. By the time we’re done, though I can’t make any promises as to how you’ll look in red tights, I can promise you that it will take more than an evil villain named Lex Luther to keep you from being the next social media superhero.
The Kryptonite of Social Media
With all the content being shared 24/7 on and offline, there’s a great deal of noise. Capturing and keeping each other’s attention is difficult. With the average attention span of today’s consumer being 9 seconds (the same as a goldfish), never before has the old adage, “you never have a second chance to make a good first impression” been more true or important to appreciate and understand.
As if the issues of time and attention were not in and of themselves huge challenges, there’s a more important asset we all need to understand and embrace. It’s the need to engage and communicate as human beings. Doing so raises the bar by allowing us to share mutual interests and values leading to even stronger connections and relationships.
I’ve been in business for 30 years. I started our law firm when fax machines were ‘the big rage’ and before the internet became mainstream. I’ve watched clients and companies automate their services to become more efficient and to help them grow in a scalable fashion.
More recently, I’ve watched consumer expectations change from embracing automation to craving human interaction. Smart business owners are now coming back full circle to personalizing and humanizing the business experience for everyone involved. They are teaching everyone in the organizational chain how to do business like our grandparents did 75 years ago. That is, to embrace the human-to-human aspect of business and life.
Going back to basics the Dale Carnegie way
Well before the Internet, social media and new automated digital systems, Dale Carnegie wrote the 1937 best-selling book, “How To Win Friends and Influence People”, sharing valuable principles to help all of us build better relationships. Because of our new ability to instantly connect digitally around the globe, Carnegie’s principles are more important today than ever before.
On all levels, social media substantially amplifies the value, importance and risks associated with time, attention and being human. For this reason, and using Carnegie’s six principles, I’m going to share my digital version of Carnegie’s teachings that has worked so well for me over the past three decades. I’m also adding a seventh principle that I believe is even more important than all the others combined.
Principle 1: Become genuinely interested in other people, their platforms and what they share on social.
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. -Dale Carnegie
Being interested in other people and caring about what they say and do is a great way to earn their time and attention. It’s how you connect on a human level.
How do you do this? Well, start off by spending about 70% of your time focused on others, not on yourself, your business, products or services. Show that you care by replying, engaging and sharing the content and effort of others with your digital audience.
Be genuine and don’t slip in your links to self-promote. Just share and truly help others. This is where most people drop the ball. They can’t resist talking about themselves, or their products and services, even when complimenting others.
Remember that in today’s digital world, if your primary content is all about you, then your ultimate audience will only be you. Being human, transparent (to a degree) and engaging without expecting anything in return will earn you the time and attention of others. It will help you stand out from everyone else and allow your message to be heard above all the noise.
Once in a while, it’s OK to toot your own horn. But here’s the deal. If you go about these seven principles correctly, you won’t have to toot your own horn because others will do this for you.
Principle 2: Smile, be kind, and have empathy for others.
How do you “smile” on the digital platforms? Well, my secret is to only engage and communicate on social media when I’m smiling inside and out. When I’m having a bad day, and we all do, I either refrain from engaging or let someone else in the office do this for me.
The key to sharing your big and bright digital smile is to always try and put your best foot forward. Have a positive frame of mind and actually smile ear to ear while you write, record and broadcast.
People will see and feel the difference when reading, watching and listening to your content. If you’re a company that’s smart enough to empower your employees to share actively on social, show them how to do the same. Still need help learning how to smile or teach others to smile? Watch this short video by Guy Kawasaki.
One last thing. Make sure your personal and professional profile pictures display smiles. If you don’t have any then have new ones taken this week. There’s good reason why in his book Carnegie made a point to share the ancient Chinese proverb, “A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.”
Principle 3: Remember and use people’s names and social media handles.
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” -William Shakespeare
When someone hears her name or sees her social media handle or post being shared, at that very moment it is often the sweetest sound or most important experience in her world. In fact, Carnegie argues that there’s nothing more important than including the other person’s name in a conversation. Fast forward to today. I think this approach applies to sharing the social media handles, posts, and other people’s content.
When appropriate, personalize everything you can. Take the time to edit posts, retweets and other content to include the names and digital handles of your customers and employees.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices.” Sure, it takes extra effort to remember or research a name and user handle. Yes, it takes more time to edit and add a person’s name and handle in a tweet or post, than not.
But here’s the deal: the small amount of time and effort you invest in doing this (and it is an investment) will be appreciated and help separate you from your competition.
Principle 4: Be a good listener, encourage others to talk about themselves, share their content.
“One of the sincerest forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” -Bryant H. McGill
Listen more than you speak. Use your ears, eyes and heart at all times to watch, listen to and read another’s digital efforts. Actually, slow down and actively “listen” to what is being said. When you do post or reach out, asking open-ended questions is a wonderful way to invite an additional opportunity to listen some more. Using open-ended questions and then listening to the answers is the best way that I know to learn about the other person.
In my world, using this technique is how I usually always end up with 12 amazing jurors from a jury pool of hundreds. While opposing counsel instructs and preaches, I ask questions and listen. This has always been one of my keys to success in business and trial and I think this approach will work for you, too.
This isn’t a trick or technique. For this approach to work, you must be real, genuine and truly care about what the other person is saying. Often times the other person’s body language will communicate a completely different message than the words flowing across a person’s lips. On social, prior and subsequent posts may also give clarity to what is really being said in the message at hand.
Principle 5: Talk to people about their interests and the content they share.
In his book, Carnegie shares a story about how President Roosevelt would do whatever he could to learn about the passions and interest of others. He would stay up late the night before a meeting and read all he could on the topic of interest of the person he’d be meeting the next day. He knew that the quickest path to a person’s heart was to talk about the things that the other person was passionate about. You can and should do the same thing on social media.
Spend time learning about others before jumping into a conversation or approaching them with your products and services. What are her interests? What does she enjoy doing in her spare time? Engage and interact with others with genuine interest and curiosity. It’s shared values and interests that bond us as human beings.
Principle 6: Be Sincere. Make a person feel important by what you say, post and do.
Before reaching out to someone on social media, ask yourself, “What is there about this other person that I can honestly admire?” The answer to your question might be someone’s personality, accomplishments, charitable interest or even the content of her blog. It may not have anything to do with business. And that’s okay. Whatever it is, make sure to find it.
Everyone offers value and is special and unique in their own way. Do what you can to find out what the other client or customer’s value is and then highlight this to your digital world. You might be surprised to learn that this same philosophy works with your purported competition and enemies. Look for shared interests.
While you’re doing this, keep in mind that insincere flattery is not the goal. It’s fake, obvious and will prevent you from making a connection. On the other hand, having and displaying a sincere interest and appreciation for the other, without any hidden agenda, will help you connect on a human level unlike ever before.
Most of the time doing all of this is easier said than done. And I get that. But successful people in business and life are often times those individuals who are willing to do what others are not. For this very reason, I keep this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson on my desk. It’s a good reminder and reads “Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn from him.”
Principle 7: Always do the right thing.
Although this particular principle is not one Carnegie mentioned, I think it’s just as important as all the others combined. What I’m talking about is leading by example. Always strive to do the right thing on the digital platforms and in your social media communities.
The ease of clicking, posting and sharing on social shouldn’t result in the bar being lowered when it comes to being truthful and factual.
Try to be aware of this potential issue and together with your team. Always strive to be honest, transparent and do the right thing. Lead by example and always make your social media community’s best interest a priority. Doing these things is not always easy, but is always necessary.
I believe the people and businesses that understand and apply these seven principles on the digital platforms are the same individuals and businesses that will earn the time and attention of others and achieve success.
These principles connect you to others on a superhuman level, unlike ever before. Embracing these principles will help you conquer digital speeding bullets. Your audience will be full of all the Lois Lanes and Jimmy Olsens of the world who will cheer you on in such a powerful way that your song and superpowers will be shared around the globe.
Now go put on your cape and tights, and apply these seven principles. Become the best superhuman you can be on social media.
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Mitch is an award-winning California lawyer, legal change evangelist, speaker and Senior Litigation Partner of Jackson and Wilson, Inc., a top AV-rated firm by Martindale-Hubbell. He enjoys social media, live streaming and empowering other professionals to show their human side.