Social Media Tips for Introverts
“In a gentle way, you can shake the world”
A while back, I can across Susan Cain’s fantastic TED talk The Power of Introverts and went on to read her equally fantastic book Quiet. I found it fascinating as there are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be an introvert. Introverts aren’t necessary quiet or shy but just prefer less stimulating environments and need time to occasionally recharge.
Introverts aren’t better or worse than extroverts, although they are better and worse at certain things. They have different temperaments and different needs. It can be a bit tricky being an introvert, especially in a world with a bias towards extroverts. So this got me thinking, how can introverts succeed in the noisy and often shouty world of social media? Here are some tips:
1. Understand that Social Media is not an accurate reflection of reality
This is super important. Social networks often give the illusion that we are more connected but studies have shown that social networks can often make ourselves feel more isolated and alone. And this was way before Facebook’s infamous mood experiment. You can watch Sherry Turkle’s excellent TED talk, but just remember: there are a lot of amazing things about social media but it is not the be all and end all. Rather focus of having fantastic relationships with people (both online and offline) than “winning” at social media.
2. Quality Over Quantity
This is a mantra that should drive every decision you make about how you engage with people on social media. There is already so much noise on social channels and if all you are going to do is add to the noise, you are wasting your time.
Be quite thoughtful about who you follow, when to engage and what you say. If your posts are of a high quality, they will have value and that’s never a bad thing. How much is too much and how much time should you spend on social? These are individual questions that you should answer upfront. Set yourself a quota to make sure that you aren’t stuck watching your Twitter feed 24 hours a day.
3. Pick Your Platforms and Control Your Feeds
There are no shortage of social networks but you also don’t have to be everywhere all the time. It all depends on your individual social media needs. You may find that you need to use Twitter and LinkedIn for work, Facebook for friends and family and Instagram just because you love taking pics on your phone. You may just need Instagram. Pick the platforms that add value and give them the necessary attention. Ignore the rest.
The other thing you can do is control your feeds. If your feeds become too noisy, you can use lists on most social networks to curate specific feeds for work or family. You can still build a large network with lots of connections but this may help you find and engage in specific conversations a bit more easily.
4. Listen. Then Talk.
Just like in the real world, this is often the secret to deeper and more meaningful conversations. Sometimes you don’t need to worry about sharing something amazing. You just need to talk to people about the amazing things other people have shared.
Here is something I’ve noticed on Twitter. If you click on a tweet, you can see the number of favorites, retweets and replies. About 90% of tweets get zero engagement, even when people have thousands of followers. Spend a bit of time clicking on tweets and starting conversation with interesting people.
5. Broadcast Through Buffer
If you do want to broadcast but don’t have the time or energy, a simple life hack is to use a service like Buffer. Buffer allows you to schedule your social media updates, either through their algorithm or by manually setting a time. You can plan these updates when you have time and then forget about them. As an added benefit, buffer has very simple but effective analytics that shows the number of clicks and potential reach of your updates.
6. Use Messages or Groups
It’s also important to remember that social networking is not just about tweets and Facebook updates.There is a massive rise in private social sharing through private groups and chat apps. Don’t underestimate the value of sharing 1:1 or 1:few. Sharing the right thing with the right people can be very powerful, as can developing deeper individual relationships within your network.
7. Get Deep
Introverts might actually thrive better in digital spaces than in the real world as many of them express themselves better in writing than verbally. Many of them have also been accused of being “too thoughtful”. Well you filthy, little introvert; it is your lucky day as there are certain digital channels that will allow you get showcase your thinking and shine. If there is something big on your mind, you can make a habit of creating meaty blog posts epic SlideShare presentations. This can help you position yourself without “shouting”.
Just like in real life, if you are an introvert, you will need to retreat and recharge. Don’t feel bad about unplugging, spending time offline and recharging the batteries. Ironically, it’s usually during this time that you will come across the most interesting things, ideas and moments worth sharing.