Tuesday, December 28, 2010

On social networks: What to share when you don't know what to share

When clients and colleagues are starting out in social networks and contemplating what to post, they nearly always hit a wall that sounds something like, "But what am I supposed to be sharing with people? I don't want to be telling people what I ate for lunch."

Perhaps not (although I am glued to Twitter when good home cooks or my favorite top chefs tell me what private meals they're making). This isn't just about whether to post personal stuff versus professional stuff, although that's part of it. It's people struggling to come up with content, to envision what they might have to say that others want to hear. The good news: You have plenty to share. Here are 7 ideas to get you started:
  1. What you're reading right now: Plenty of experts, journalists and others used to pushing out polished information rather than sharing raw material ask me, "What could I possibly share?"  "What you're reading" is always my first answer. Some bloggers are doing this well. Check out current reading lists from food writers and a librarian.  Or go the easy route: Many of my shares are articles I'm reading in Google Reader, which makes it easy for me to post them.
  2. Your history: Robert Scoble thinks sharing your history is the next big thing in sharing socially, and especially likes Memolane's new features (although Foursquare now has some history-sharing features). Essentially, these options let you show where you've been; Memolane does this in a comprehensive timeline. Scoble's post has a code so you can take Memolane out on a test drive.
  3. What you're listening to:  Listening to Miles Davis while you edit? Monsters of Folk when you start making dinner? Found a new Dylan rarity?  These leaven the flow of work tweets and add a dimension to you that gives your followers something they can relate to, strengthening your ties. Add a video or audio link, while you're at it.
  4. Who's on your list? Seth Godin's post got me thinking you should be sharing your list of the people you like to read, work with and play with. You might do that via #FollowFriday on Twitter, or by retweeting their posts; by introducing them to others on Facebook; or recommending them on LinkedIn. But putting your trusted network out there expands your influence.
  5. Where you're going:  Many apps like TripIt and Foursquare make this easy to do, and you can control the amount of detail you're sharing. But where you're going does much more than say "I'm out of the office." Among other things, it encourages folks to reach out when you're in their city, and makes it easier for you to get tips and advice on the ground when you travel.
  6. Something about you: No, you don't have to share everything, but do choose 2 or 3 things to share that make you more than one-dimensional. For me, those things are usually music, cooking and travel. Again, you'll help strengthen your networks--much as you do when those topics come up in person.
  7. What you're presenting:  Patrick Powers, in 3 ways universities could better use SlideShare, offers a rationale and tips all organizations and companies might well heed.  You also can use Twitter effectively to share what you're presenting; check out these 14 ways to integrate Twitter into your public speaking from The Eloquent Woman blog.
And if you're lazy, or smart, make sure your posts are shareable by others. Chris Brogan walks you through how to make shareability a priority.

Related posts: How I balance personal and professional on Twitter

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