My Social Media Isn’t Your Social Media

The greatest thing in going out and meeting new people is that they are always a wonderful reference in showing you where you are with your thoughts, and teaching you that their thoughts aren’t your thoughts.

This is something that we all of course know in the basic level, but don’t often remember it before we again find ourselves in a situation where someone is acting differently that we usually would.

This is crucial for us so-certain-of-everything social media professionals to understand. People tend to use social media services differently and there’s really not a one real way to do things. It’s also creative and refreshing to speak with different people about them using social media, because you always hear about new ways you haven’t thought before – some are ‘good’ and some not that good.

So, instead of telling people how, we should make them more often ask the question why. Why do you do certain things with certain services in social media? And the reason cannot be simply “because one has to be there”.

This eventually comes to the need of having a strategy, which I think is as important with one’s personal success as with company’s. In these speedy times we tend to forget the reason, the goals behind our actions.

Here’s a simple checklist of thoughts to think while surfing in the wave of social media. These aren’t specifically social media related. I believe these are things that everyone who wants to achieve something should once in a while to ask themselves.

What am I trying to achieve with my current actions?

If I’m posting to my corporate Twitter account about how I’m “Doing a project”, does anybody care, really?

But posting “Contemplating a project for teaching #e-learning in rural schools in #Africa” instead [and maybe even using hashtags for helping people easier to find these topics], tells much more about you and your intentions and people who might be interested about e-learning and Africa might find you and start follow you – and if you are lucky, want to ask you more about these things. So remember to tell more about that issue in the future.

How’s my message?

We tend to sound different to ourselves than to other people. Ask someone, your friend, your partners, your customers or your mom; How do I seem/sound/feel like to you?

But once again, it’s up to you do you listen or not. Not everyone’s opinion matter and if you feel like your doing the right moves, stick with them.

Continuity (i.e. sticking with the story)

We are living in a story based society, or at least that’s what they are telling us everywhere. In a way that’s true and has always been with human beings from the dawn of times, but one has to really think what’s the story to tell.

One of the biggest benefits of continuity in your messages is that people tend to remember patterns better, instead of just single portions of different information. Also message that is lined with the previous ones “adds up” to the story being built – with a word “story” I don’t necessarily mean something fake or invented by the Creative Department.

How does being social benefit me?

What is the benefit of you blogging? Does it relieve your creative ambitions, is it just for fun, do you want to share your thoughts about your field of profession or show how good picture you can take?

If you can’t find any reason at all, you should really ask is blogging for me? But, here one should be cautious: It doesn’t necessarily mean that blogging is useless for you if you can’t think why to do it.

Search the web, what other people in your field of interest or profession are doing, ask your friends who are “socially fluent” so or ask a professional.

Use common sense

If you don’t know what to do in the web in some situation, ask yourself, how would you act in real life?

I’ve now faced a couple of times questions like “Who should I recommend in LinkedIn?” or “Should I go comment to someone’s blog if they have said something about me or about my company?”.

Think these in terms “Would I recommend this person in my normal life, is he or she worth it, do I really know her enough?” or “Do I want to show as a company that I care what people say about me?” and if it’s something good they’ve said “How would I feel if a company that I have praised in my blog would all of a sudden thank me directly in my blog?”.

Be polite

The web is currently a place easily get kicked in the head for small things or even nothing. But those who will answer to this kind of behavior with politeness and reason, are those to eventually survive another day. The web has a long memory and people are often more forgiving than people even consider themselves to be.

Like I wrote in the beginning of this post, if you can invent X variations of how to use social media tools, listening to others may get you to a whole different place, 10 times. So why not learn from others.

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The Meaning of Help

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Image by urbangarden

When I started to think about establishing my company, Digital_Alpaca, I started it from the values; from how my company could also for its part make this ball called Earth a little more decent place.

Back then I just had a glimpse of the idea, a feeling that there should be something more than just making money, cool mobile apps or web sites. I wanted to put my professional skills to a better use and offer my view and professionalism to the use for other people.

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

I’ve always liked this quote from Muhammad Ali. I believe that if you want to be good in something, you should be egoistic because the true learning process is from the inside out. Otherwise if you do too much of the things that other people tell you to or expect you to do, you may get lost in the way or spend your time doing the wrong things. But one shouldn’t be selfish to the end. I don’t feel that real success can be achieved by only trying to get more to yourself – of course there are some who do, but are they truly happy is another question. I think one should share their selves to others in order to achieve a genuine and lasting fulfillment and self-development.

But back to my idea of wanting to do good. It came sooner than I thought, almost like dropped to my lap, and I’m really, really happy about it. Like I’ve tweeted the last two weeks, I’ve been taking part in hosting guests from the University of Dar es Salaam and Butimba Teachers’ College of Mwanza. The goal of the program that is going to be established is to improve the accessibility to high quality education in Tanzania through e-Learning programs.

My role is to give support in usability, visual design and designing to the web, and this week I gave the first basic presentation about these subjects to our guests. The actual workshops of these parts of the project take place next June in Dar es Salaam and after these past two weeks I’m really anxiously waiting for the next summer! The people who visited Tampere, were really great and I believe we will have lots of fun and of course a lot to do too.

I believe that the two weeks our guest were here, they learned a lot, but so did we who spent more time with them. In situations like these you start to understand better why you want to help and how.

For me it is more meaningful to help with ‘Me’ instead of just putting a coin to a box and never see where it’s going to help, or if it’s going to help. I’m not saying  fund-raising is useless and it should be stopped, but I myself believe in the longer sustainability of helping like this and I can see where the support is going.

Next summer is going to be something really different, I understand it now. It’s going to be interesting to see what kind of Marko comes out of it. I’m really thankful to be able to participate in a project like this and would like to give a “thumbs up” to those people who have originally started this and are managing it now and in the future. Something great has to come out from this all.

Interesting Social Media Test: Free, a book by Chris Anderson, as a collective audio listening in Spotify & notes and talks in Qaiku

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This morning I found out in Twitter that some guys were going to have a collective listening of Free, a book by Chris Anderson, in Spotify. For this, there was a chain, or a qaiku, made to Qaiku where participants could communicate and keep collective notes.

The idea was that everyone would listen every chapter at the same time and thus the notes from everyone who wanted to write them, would be submitted to the right part of the listening session’s message chain.

It was also an interesting way of enhancement to the learning experience when participants provided links and messages to extra information about matters in the book – although some information seemed a bit hard to take in use: for example paper magazine articles are not that easy to link. 🙂

People acting this way without someone whipping us to do so, clearly indicates how we can collaborate and share our knowledge with each others and thus expand the amount of information we may gain, even from a single one book.

It would be interesting to see would it change the learning experience to more effective if a book was listened to like this, chapter by chapter, but after each chapter the participants would stop to discuss about the subjects they just heard about. Then after a while when the conversation was diminishing, would carry on.

It was a shame that I couldn’t participate to this as intensely as I would’ve wanted to. Despite of it this experiment left an interesting aftertaste and visions of new ways of eLearning and collaboration in learning and how they could develop to be a standard way of doing things. Hope to see more things like this in the future!

Here’s a link to Juhana Kokkonen’s [juhana2 in Qaiku] post about this at Juhana.org: http://juhana.org/2009/08/avoin-ad-hoc-opiskelukokeilukutsu/. He originally invented the idea.

Tero Heiskanen’s post [in Finnish], written almost in real time during the listening, can be found here: http://teroheiskanen.net/2009/08/26/free-ilmainen/