Three Simple Ways To Start Engaging Online

Why Nobody Listens - The Anti-Social MediaI can’t imagine getting started on the web these days. It’s big, crowded, and if it were real, it would probably smell like well-used port-o-potty. We don’t know how to behave and we all run around shouting millions of tiny, but seemingly important, messages at one another daily.

It’s overwhelming and intimidating. You’d probably prefer to get off your computer and go interact with the actual people around you. However, there are a lot of dead simple things you can do to make that beginning less awkward and socially painful.

  • Connect with people you really know - I know, you’re funnier than everyone else on Twitter, and you post the most relevant updates on LinkedIn, but no one seems to care.  Have you ever thought it might be because the five people you’re following don’t know you? Start with connecting to people you know and would hang out with or see in the real world. If you’re a working on behalf of a business, encourage your regular customers to connect with you. These are the people who give a crap about you and will actually pay attention to what you do.
  • Talk to other people - You may write the funniest jokes ever, but if you are just saying them to yourself, who cares? Relate to other people with replies, comments, and likes. Show some interest in the things they do and care about. Some people may never talk back to you, and some may never follow you back. But you’ll never know that they’re a cold hearted snake until you reach out to them and start talking.
  • Amuse and Educate - People go online for information and entertainment. If you’re not informing them, entertain them. If you’re not entertaining, inform. If you’re not doing either, what are you doing here? And if you’re doing both, you’ve probably nailed it.

Dream big, but start small. Overnight celebrity is unsustainable, and those first connections you make will be valuable for a long time to come.

What would you tell someone who is getting started? To engage? To run away? To stop being such a disappointment? Let’s give the newbies some tricks to cope with the social media madness before they turn into Facebook sociopaths.


14 Responses to “Three Simple Ways To Start Engaging Online”

  1. Jeff Williams January 21, 2011 at 8:39 am #

    Jay, great post. Thanks for the reminder to first connect with people you know. That is what I did when i first got started with SM. This will definitely be the advice I give to my colleagues at IV-SHRM!

  2. Tim Soulo January 21, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    Yeah.. what I like about social media these days is that you can follow/add to friends or make any other online relation with literally anyone!

    That’s very easy, but it’s also time consuming.

  3. Dino Dogan January 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    Educate, entertain or shut up. Hows that for a collective advice? lol

    • Jay January 22, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

      That’s a start.

  4. Chris Ferdinandi - Renegade HR January 21, 2011 at 4:39 pm #

    I’ve always found that the simplest way to get people to engage with you is to respond to their stuff first. My biggest “fans” - if you can call them that - are all people I connected with by being genuinely engaged in what they were writing first. Suck on that, gurus!

    • Jay January 22, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

      I think being first is always helpful, and persistence. You may not get your foot int he door the first time, but if you keep trying, they’re bound to pay attention soon enough.

  5. Leslie (Rational Chica) January 21, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

    My advice would be to not be long-winded. People don’t have time nor do they necessarily want to make time to read a college-length essay of a blog post (unless yours happens to be the ONLY blog they follow, which is doubtful).

    K.I.S.S. - Keep it simple & short. to the point. concise. brief, short, succinct, terse, short and sweet, crisp, curt, abridged. See what I mean. Overkill is annoying.

  6. Amy Spreeman January 21, 2011 at 5:56 pm #

    I agree! My biggest followers have personally observed me gobble down bacon at a tweetup breakfast, and they still like me!

    (Some of them have even hired me.) Is it the engagement, or the bacon?

    • Jay January 23, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

      When you say “personally observed me gobble down bacon,” did you invite them over just to watch Bacon? That’s cruel.

      I’d say it’s the bacon. Everyone on social media loves bacon.

  7. Morgan January 21, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    Absolutely! In the end, just be a real person with a personality and you’ll be fine.


    • Jay January 23, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

      And I thought I could get away without having a personality.

  8. Jim Smith January 22, 2011 at 7:07 am #

    Actually the picture says it all. “Listen”

    • Jay January 22, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

      I knew I wrote too much.

  9. Vladimir Koller January 25, 2011 at 9:42 am #

    Great post

    I just started following your blog and love your angle on the whole social media scene.

    People go onlinge for education and entertainment, that statement should be tatooed on many corporate client foreheads, it would make things a lot easier. Or perhaps not : )

Leave a Reply