I was briefly a dating coach, and have been noticing the crossover between good practices for dating and social media. Yes, really. We’re doing this: social media is like dating, so let’s go through what it means to be a hot date.
1. First Impressions
If you walked up to a lady dressed in sweats and sneakers for your first date at a fancy restaurant, you probably wouldn’t be particularly impressed. It isn’t necessarily about being shallow or looks-obsessed; it simply indicates that even on date number one, in which she is putting her best foot forward, she seems a bit disheveled. The same goes for your social media presence. Those descriptions/about pages/profiles? Fill them out IMMEDIATELY. Get some sort of profile picture, even if it’s just a placeholder, up as soon as you join. Nobody is going to follow/like/take an interest in a profile that has a boring bio and the default picture. So, spruce yourself up a little for the first impression! Create a custom background for your Twitter page, and make a nice cover photo for Facebook.
2. Good Listeners Get All the Play
Being a good listener is actually just important for life in general. It becomes especially important when you want to establish actual two-way relationships with your social communities. Watch for trending topics and join in the conversation. Someone says they’re having a bad day? Ask them what’s going on. Twitter is an excellent example of how to make yourself a good date through engaging conversation. So many accounts tweet 24/7, but rarely pause to respond to mentions, retweet other accounts, or engage with any tweets in their stream. This is the equivalent of talking solely about yourself all night without so much as asking your date where she’s from. Luckily, this is super easy to remedy. Just take a genuine interest in your fans and followers, and extend to them the same level of human compassion that you would to somebody you met in person.
4. Ms. Manners
A little courtesy goes a long way on a date, and on the internet, it practically makes you look like a saint. This should probably go without saying, but play nice. See some drama happening? Do your best to stay out of it. It’s fine to disagree with people, of course, but there’s a way to do it that doesn’t make you look like a 13-year-old, I promise. It really does make you look unprofessional and unlikable if you are constantly engaging in flame wars. If someone is truly upsetting you, spouting bigotry, or otherwise making you uncomfortable, use that block button and move on. Sweet people on the internet are rare enough that they stand out and shine.
5. Keep it Short and Sweet
Ever have a date that just drags on and on? This is why the optimal first date is coffee, and the most successful posts tend to be short and to the point. There are definitely exceptions to this; Google Plus, for instance, favors in-depth and comprehensive text posts. But on the whole, the easier it is to digest, the more attention it will garner. There’s a reason that short form social media has taken off in recent years (Twitter, Vine, Tumblr, Pinterest). Don’t be that guy who spends three hours yammering on about his exciting new project at work while his date slowly backs away. Just don’t.
6. Play the Field
Why stick with just one (or two or three … ) social platforms, when there is a whole host of them just waiting to be explored? Don’t be afraid to play around and experiment with your social sites. You wouldn’t get married after just one date, right? … Right? So don’t tie yourself down to one platform just because you’re used to it.
7. Size Matters Less than You Think
It’s not the size of the boat, but the motion of the ocean. It’s not the amount of followers that counts, but how you’re engaging with them. I know people with over 100k followers on Twitter who get almost zero actual interaction with their multitude of “fans.” There’s a common misconception in social media marketing that the best thing for every account is to grow followers. While this is true to a certain extent, since you don’t want to be posting statuses for nobody to see, it’s arguably more important to form relationships with your current audience than to constantly grow it. After all, even if a million people like your Facebook page, if they all skip over your statuses without so much as a quick read, you aren’t actually spreading your message to anyone.
8. Looks Do Matter (at Least a Little)
No, not your looks, silly. Visual content is consistently shared more than any other form, and also tends to elicit more emotion than text alone. Part of the reason for this is that they require far less time to process than, say, a wall of text. People like to instantly “get” something. Try sharing some pictures, either original content or found online, and I can promise you’ll see an increase in engagement.