This guest post is by Matthew Weber of T3kd.com.
When I first started blogging in early 2010, I was relatively new to social media. I had been a member of Facebook since 2004, but I was not using it to promote myself or my content: I was using to stalk old girlfriends. When I finally joined Twitter in 2009, I was unsure what the purpose of it was. Sure, I used Twitter. I followed some feeds, some interesting famous people, and I had a few followers—most of them very special bots.
But once I started blogging in January 2010, I came to the realization that I was using Twitter in completely the wrong way if I wanted people to actually engage with me, and through me, my content.I realized that I couldn’t just tweet out something and expect people to see it. In order for people to see my content, they would have to have a connection with me, and they would need to remember me.
I tried different ways of doing this. I tweeted more, and I started to retweet others’ content. But this was still not enough. In the end I realized that the only way for other people to have a personal stake in “Matt”, would be to have them feel like we had a relationship beyond just me spewing a lot of content at them on Twitter. I realized that if I wanted the true Twitter experience, I would have to jump in and participate and engage with other people.
I found that once I stopped treating it as a place just for sharing, and started participating and conversing with other people, not only was Twitter much more entertaining, but also the people with whom I interacted started paying more attention to my content.
Google+ is the same
Amazingly, I’m currently making the same mistake with Google+. I seem to use it only as my own personal soapbox. I spew content, and no one pays attention. I know this problem all too well, seeing as I’ve made these mistakes before.
From everything I have heard, read, and been told, Google+ is an amazing place in which to get people to talk and interact with content. I have not seen this. Originally I just thought that this was because Google+ was no good. Then I thought that it might be because Google+ is so new, and there might not be a big enough audience for my content.
Then I realized that, as usual, this wasn’t the fault of Google+. It was, of course, operator error. I wasn’t using it properly.
It’s all about interactivity
In order for people to interact and consume your content, you have to give them a reason to do so.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Matt, isn’t interesting and original content enough?” No, no it’s not. I know that original and interesting content is very important. But that is not what social media is all about. Your content is not even really in play when it comes to social media.
On social media sites people are not interacting with your content, at least not yet. They are interacting with you. When I share a link on Google+, people will interact with it if they have a reason to.
The biggest reason I can give them to click on that link is to make them think that they are a part of my story. If they think that there is a social relationship between us, then they are much more likely to think that my content is important. Originality and interest only come into play once they click that link.
So how do you become interactive on Google+—or any other social media site? You have to talk to people. I know that sounds almost stupidly simple, but it’s true. When they share something, strike up a conversation with them about it. Ask them questions, and share something related. There are innumerable ways to do it, but in the end it comes down to being social.
Once you have the interactivity down with one person, you will find that they are much more likely to reciprocate that interactivity back towards you and your content.
It’s your opportunity: don’t waste it
It is this statement that I have to remember. This is exactly where I was at the beginning with Twitter, and I again need to make sure that I squeeze Google+ for all it’s worth. Google+ represents a unique opportunity not only for me to spread my content out through interactivity, but also for me to gain useful connections to others. Even more than Twitter, Google+ gives me the opportunity to garner great conversations surrounding my content. I need to start using it properly, before I miss the opportunity.
When thinking about social media, we have to remember that it is not about us. We can’t be selfish, we have to be social. Being social, whether it is on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook, means to have a two-way interaction between people. A relationship that is only one way will not last long, if it takes off at all.
Just like your personal, real-life relationships, in order to flourish, an online relationship must be cultivated and fed with communication and good times. That interactivity will make it so the people you share your content with will remember you and be interested in the things you share. So go forth and be social, my friends!
Matt is the Founder of Blogs Media Network, a collection of blog sites covering assorted content. His main site, T3kd.com, is a site dedicated to covering technology news, and providing tech analysis. You can circle him on Google+ here.