Monday, May 5, 2014

Social Media & Life Lessons from Mom

Recently, a friend posted a list on Facebook of life lessons he had learned from his mother. I loved the straightforward wisdom of those lessons and instantly recognized their applicability for social media managers. Since Mother's Day is this Sunday, here are those motherly lessons, accompanied by a few of my thoughts on how social media managers can apply them:

1) When given a task, do it silently and do it well. It takes less time to roll up your sleeves than it does to find ways around working.

Let's face it - the networks that give us a reason to exist as a profession aren't perfect. Most of us are guilty of ranting about this latest UI change or that lack of functionality or customer support. The flaws inherent in the social networks and tools we use are not an excuse not to get work done.

We are communicators by nature, so another common issue for social media managers is the "do it silently" bit. Many social media "experts" are so busy talking about how to do the work of social media, in blogs, tweets, white papers and eBooks, that they couldn't possibly be practicing what they preach and actually doing much social media work. Roll up your sleeves and focus on clients first before writing that next blog post.

2) "Sir," "Ma'am," "Please," and "Thank You." Courtesy is everything.

Given the frequently informal nature of social media, it can be easy to forget that we are often providing customer service when interacting with fans and followers. Depending on the context, a name might be more appropriate than "Sir" or "Ma'am," but a "please" and "thank you" should accompany most interactions. Courtesy becomes especially important when receiving negative feedback and criticism!

3) If you don't have time to do something right, when are you going to have time to do it over?

Take the time to research who you are interacting with or get full details on the situation. In the fast-paced, busy world of social media, speed often seems more valuable than quality. Taking the time to research an individual or situation helps you address them more professionally and effectively and will save you time in the long run.

4) You are entitled to nothing in this life. You must earn all you have, and appreciate that which you have earned.

Entitlement is a common complaint from those of us engaged in customer service. It is easy to recognize or perceive a sense of entitlement in others. We must turn the lens on ourselves when it comes to the systems we use and the clients we serve. Is 24/7 customer support a right or a perk? Are you billing a certain rate because you earned it or because you think you deserve it?  Key words to reflect on here are respect, humility and gratitude.

These four life lessons are just some of many common sense principles that can and should be applied by social media managers. What other ways could the industry apply these lessons? What other life lessons might be relevant to the social space?