Kindergarten, German for a “children’s garden,” is a wonderfully accurate moniker for kids’ first year of school. Actual gardens produce a colorful variety of vegetables, each with their own delicate characteristics, growth rates and ripening times. Kids are the same, particularly where their peer interactions are concerned.
During my career as an elementary school counselor, I was especially delighted and intrigued by the budding social skills of little ones. Some children were fearless, eagerly initiating introductions and inviting others to play. But like some stubborn, slow-growing garden fare, other kids were introverted, more reluctant to make new friends. To help them along, kids learn rules like, taking turns, proper manners, keeping hands to themselves, sharing and using polite words. Eventually, after months of group activities, practicing manners and developmental play, most of the kids’ social skills began to mature and ripen.
Today, our society is immersed in another sort of garden: social media. Because it is such a new form of communication and engagement marketing, many are still struggling to develop the necessary skills to make friends, socialize and use this important tool to connect with our clients. Like kindergartners figuring out the best way to play, we still have a lot to learn. Fortunately there are also reliable, proven guidelines for social media engagement. My book, The Little Cottage Services Definitive Guide to Becoming Irresistible, details these guidelines for social media etiquette, which can help you elevate your business’s engagement marketing efforts from kindergarten status, to the savvy, expert level.
Over the next several weeks, I will introduce you to the six simple rules for successful social engagement marketing. Today, we’ll cover the fundamental requirement for making friends in kindergarten, on Facebook, and every situation in between. That is, Be Yourself.
Use a real picture of yourself – not your logo. Fans will connect with your picture, not your company’s graphic image. I’m not saying that branding elements aren’t important, but they should act only as a back drop. You are the face of your business. On that note, make sure your picture is a good one. It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to take a decent picture of you. Don’t use the one that is grainy and red-eyed. And don’t use the one that you’ve had for 15 years – think online dating: your first impression is important. If you can swing it, get a professional picture taken.
Second, speak to your followers in the voice you would actually use in conversation. Speak like you would if the person were sitting across from you. If you don’t use formal English in your face to face conversations then you shouldn’t use it in your virtual ones either.
The upcoming posts will cover the remaining five rules for successful social media efforts. These are:
• Don’t Interrupt
• Be Friendly and Helpful
• Tell the Truth
• Sharing is Caring
• Play Nice
Just like kindergartners, social media users are in the infancy of a new method of forging friendships. The children’s garden can be an unpredictable, sometimes scary place, which is why manners are crucial to ensuring the interactions are positive and fruitful. The garden of social media can also become a tangled, weedy mess for your business if you ignore the simple rules that have helped you mature and ripen into a sophisticated friend.