How to be the Life of the Social Media Party

July 21, 2010

Last week I was at a conference speaking about social media – half way through I made a statement off-the-cuff that being good in social media or in blogging was really just about being good in life and good in relationships.

Social media is, as its name suggests, the social interaction that one person has with another person or a group of people. It’s a communal activity and, as a result, a lot of the things that apply to just being good at relationships apply to social media as well.

This morning I was thinking about what makes someone attractive in terms of conversation and what makes someone good at being in relationships. I was thinking about when you go to a party and you come away from that party either having had really good conversations with people or really bad ones and I’m beginning to think about some of the dynamics that make a someone the life of the party, someone who is, that draws others to them at a party because a lot of those same characteristics actually fit within the social media space as well.

Now, I’m not saying that you need to be an extrovert to be good at social media, but some of the things about good party-goers actually do apply.

Something Interesting to Say

I was thinking back to some of the parties that I’ve been to recently and the people that I’m drawn to at parties are people who are, one, they’ve got something interesting to say. They have experiences or they have a knowledge or they have just the ability to be able to talk about interesting things. Sure, it’s fun sometimes to talk about rubbish and to have a bit of fun with that but, really, I come home from parties thinking about the good conversations that I’ve had that have actually been interesting, that have been about things that I perhaps didn’t know before.

Interesting but also Interested

So, these people are interesting but they’re also interested. They’re people who are not only willing and able to talk about themselves or to be able to talk about life from their own perspective but they’re actually interested in what others think, in what you think. They look you in the eye, they ask you questions and then they listen to what you’ve got to say and then what they have to say builds upon what you’ve said.

They actually show you that they’ve listened to you and are able to build upon that and that’s what a, that’s when a good conversation happens is, it’s not just when two people talk in monologues and then don’t interact with what each other have said; it’s actually something that builds, that gains momentum and that takes listening, it takes being interested as well.

They’re entertaining, quite often, they’re willing to be a bit playful and perhaps have a joke at themselves, at you and in a friendly kind of way.

They’re engaging, they ask questions.

They’re personal, they don’t just talk as if they’re talking to strangers in a room, a crowd of people. They actually look you in the eye, they actually will share something of themselves in a personal kind of way and add to the conversation in that way.

They’re inclusive, and this is one of the things that I think really is applicable to social media is that these types of people, they quite often will not only be talking to you but they’ll be engaging others around you in the party. They’ll be making introductions, they’ll be making, they’ll be connecting other people together and in a way that actually sets those two people up for a conversation, by introducing two people and pointing out some common interests and facilitating conversations not just between them and one other person but they almost create a community around themselves at parties.

And this is one of the things that I think is particularly applicable to the social media space is that, not only can you have a great conversation with an individual, but you can actually create a community and introduce your readers, your followers to one another.

These type of people, they take initiative. They don’t just let conversations happen and then chime in where they want; they actually drive the conversation forward. They’re taking initiative and thinking about what else they could say, what questions they could ask. They’re not passive in that way. And sometimes they’re actually quite surprising in the directions that they’ll take in a conversation. It’s often those conversations that end up in a completely different place that I think about as being good conversations. They’re not just predictable, they’re unique. They’ve got something unique to say and they’re quite willing to go and explore those types of angles to the conversation.  These people, they’re not arrogant, they’re not aloof and they’re not boring, they’re not passive; they’re actually taking initiative, they’re interesting and they’re interested. They’re the type of people I’m interested in chatting to at parties and also in social media.

Written on July 22nd, 2010 by Darren Rowse

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