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I have heard Twitter called the Cocktail Party of social media.  Though I think that has merit, I don’t think it takes it far enough.  I think Social Media is the new Cocktail Party.   “Ok,” you might be thinking.  “Why does that matter?”

It matters, because I think it really does give us a roadmap for how to behave online.  The more I have the chance to speak to groups and organizations around the country on the topic, the more I am convinced.  We hear all of the time that social media is different.  It’s making people act differently.  And, certainly, in some cases that is the truth.

There are the “keyboard activists” that you hear about all of the time.  There are trolls.  But those people are around us every day…not just online. My contention is social media is VERY much like the three-dimensional world.  We try to make it different.  But if we treat social media just like real life, we would be better off!  Here are a few similarities I see between social media and a cocktail party.

Don’t Lead with Politics:  If you just moved into a new neighborhood, and you were invited to a cookout, you would probably not introduce yourself to your new neighbors with political vitriol.  You might not like the current President (or the last one), but you probably would not LEAD with that.  And even if you did, you would not continue to say it all night long.  We all know that person that posts 8 times per day about his or her political rants.  I guess you might do this, but you would not be invited back.

Less Mean…More Good:  If you (and the rest of social media) communicated as if they might see people later that day, we would all get more civil.  Here’s the thing, we might still have the same opinions, but we would say them differently.  What your mom told you years ago is still right.  “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.”

Don’t Sell ALL of the Time:  I am looking at you businesses and salespeople!  You would never walk up to every person at a cocktail party and try to sell them your product without knowing anything about them!  Sure, you might want to sell to them…but not at hello!  But businesses do this all of the time!  You go to their pages and all it says is “Buy from me.  Buy from me.  Buy from me.”  Just like it real life, people are saying “I have to go over here” to get away from you.

Make People Laugh:  People who are fun to follow online are very much like people you want to hang out with in real life.  They make you laugh.  They make you feel good about you.  They inspire you.  In a world where everyone seems to be all about snark and cynicism, make people smile.  That transcends any platform. So if you (and your team) want to be better on social, stop treating it differently.  Start treating it just like your next networking event.  You might be surprised with your results.

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