Do you remember your first day of school? It was that day when everything we did started to become less about ourselves and more about the community around us. We learned to line up in single-file fashion – a practice we use daily as adults. We also learned to speak when it was our turn – after we had raised our hand and the teacher called on us. Both these lessons were further developed over time and with much practice until they became integral parts of how we communicated with others. Likewise, there are many lessons we were taught in the schoolyard through our interactions with other children, maybe after school while waiting for our parents to pick us up or maybe during recess. But there are five lessons we definitely learned on the playground that impact how we do business today.
- We play together: When you were a kid hanging out with your best friend on the swing set, monkey bars or slide, there wasn’t any sense of competition between you and your friend. Likewise, social media does not mean constant competition! Instead, it’s about constant conversation. Social media is more of a way to partner with your target community to come up with real-time solutions to problems.
- No pushing or shoving: This point goes back to the single-file line concept. In the social universe, there is more than enough room for everyone and every brand to exist – there isn’t any need to use underhanded tactics like smear campaigns to steal business away from your competition. In fact, in many cases, that has resulted in negative consequences. If you’re able to present your business as reliable, valuable and transparent, then there isn’t any reason to shove or push another brand out of the way. Your ethical tactics will do that for you.
- You have to wear the right shoes: As a kid, when you wore sandals to the playground filled with rocks that got uncomfortably stuck between your toes and the shoe sole, your experience playing wasn’t as fun as it would have been if you had worn some tennis shoes. With social media, it’s imperative that the experience your fans, followers and visitors have is as smooth and easy as possible. That means properly preparing the right social technologies to use. Having a well-designed website, engaging Facebook page and active Twitter profile is crucial to providing the valuable content your fans and followers are seeking. If you aren’t using the right platforms at an optimal level, you may not have followers for too long.
- Don’t use playground equipment improperly – doing so may hurt you: One of the hardest things to deal with in social media is finding a good balance in your posting and engagement habits. You never want to post too frequently or you’ll risk loosing fans and followers because you’ll appear to be spamming! But you also don’t want to post too infrequently or you run the risk of falling off your fans radars. Find the perfect balance and you’ll develop your dedicated brand advocates.
- We respect the “grown ups” who are patrolling the schoolyard: This is a big one! Even though we have to let users have a loud voice in the social business sphere, that doesn’t mean they are in control. In fact, users want to engage with your brand online because they respect you as the experts of the product or service. So act like the expert that you are and provide the most informed and experienced information that users can only get from the expert source. Your fans and followers will respect that.