Engaging in the Era of Social Media

Screenshot 2015-11-26 18.27.23

In our hyperconnected world over a billion people (is it 2 billion now?) are active on some kind of social media platform. Chief among these are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn–leading to my profiles here—at least outside of China. These are not only technological platforms. The reason why the word “media” is so appropriate is because they develop their own language, culture and behaviors. Understanding them is as important as learning about what to expect and how to behave when visiting a new country, especially if you want to be an active citizen.

These thoughts have been prompted by my getting close to the five thousand connection limit that Facebook currently imposes. I can’t really call all of them “friends,” as the local language implies. Unsurprisingly, I know very little about most of them. But this limit requires, to use the platform well, that one establish criteria for the connections to be accepted and maintained.

In my case, these characteristics eliminate someone from connecting with me:

1. Make all or most of your posts private,
2. Write in a language I don’t speak,
3. Feature mostly selfies, animal photos, inane quotes,
4. Post links with no context, commentary or opinion.

If someone does any of the above, it is better for them to follow rather than ask to directly connect.

Why don’t I like a private posts? Contributing to a public increase in smart positive thoughts is much better than sharing them with an exclusive group of people. Over 99% of what I publish is public. I want to practice open and transparent sharing with my connections.

As with Facebook, similar rules apply on LinkedIn and Twitter. How you ask for a professional introduction on LinkedIn or whether you engage with your followers on Twitter by replying to their @ messages demonstrates your prowess on those platforms as well.