Make the most of your time at the social media circus

Step right up

I used to think of social media as a dinner party — apply the same rules of etiquette and it becomes a successful party. Ask questions. Listen. Imagine you are in a real room with real people. Same old set of social skills. But I now see social media as much less contained. It’s an explosion of links, ads, gifs, trolls and comments. It’s a circus — in all of its flashy, sticky, overwhelming, indulgent, entertaining glory.

There are a few different types of circuses. The old-school, big top, traveling show, full of charlatans and honking horns, comes to you. It’s loud and fun and then it leaves. Then there are the artistic performances akin to the Cirque du Soleil — amazing, classy and oozing with talent. This type of circus builds its own home and we travel to it.

Both types hold true for social media, too. Some social interactions are big and noisy and plunk down right in the middle of your quiet life. And then there are the conversations that brimming with art, beauty and talent. You seek those out and so do others.

While what platform you are on can enhance the type of circus (interruptive vs. artistic), more often than not it is determined by the conversation. Being thoughtful about the content is key. Here are some do’s and don’ts to make your time at the social media circus count.

Do be the ringmaster.

Highlight and introduce others. There is a special grace to bringing others forward — a confidence and a passion for sharing.

Don’t be the cotton candy.

It’s a sweet and sticky headache in a bag. It’s spun. Don’t spin. Tell the truth. Instead of fluffy, empty calories, serve up content with some substance.

Do take the trapeze for a spin.

Jump, let go. One of the most remarkable things about using social media (personally and professionally) is the ability to nimbly jump to an entirely new topic or interest. Make sure that social media doesn’t become a closed loop of people just like you. Fly. Catch something new. You won’t break the web.

Don’t be the pickpocket.

Just because it’s available on social media, doesn’t mean it’s up for grabs. Don’t steal content that belongs to someone else. Credit. Share links.

Do be an acrobat.

Surprise me with what you can do. Surprise yourself. Acrobatics is a combination of strength, flexibility and artistry.

Don’t believe the mirrors.

Simple truth: circus mirrors lie. So do social media mirrors. It is a warped truth of the parts of us we want others to see. It’s branding and packaging for the digital age. Strive for the authenticity beyond the mirror.

Do bring the kids.

Social media is, well, social. Bring others. Invite. Share. Ride together.

Don’t be the scary clown.

For real folks, social media is nothing if not a magnifying glass. If you are creepy, damn sure you will be even creepier online and it will be as obvious as a big red clown nose.

Do be the gasp from the crowd.

Make sure that somewhere along the way, something so special happens that everyone shares a moment of complete WOW.

At the end of the day, a circus is a business. So are you. Think about this as you employ social for your business. Why are people coming to your circus? Is it the right why? How do you want them to feel while they are there? Even more important, how do you want them to feel when they leave? What will they say about you and your message?

Are you fluff? A guilty pleasure? An experience? Bait? A story?

For us at Mamalode, we strive to find a balance between entertainment and a resource. Some days it is a juggle. Some days a clown car. And on really good days it is beauty. And so we ask ourselves those questions and try to stay clear on not just what we post, but how our audience will feel about it and what they will remember. Our goal is not a number — it’s something akin to a circus done right, something like magic.

Image by: dirkjanranzijn via Compfight cc

Elke Govertsen
Elke Govertsen is the founder and publisher of Mamalode Magazine, which BlogHer founder Lisa Stone called "America's BEST parenting magazine." Mamalode is the little magazine that could — it has grown from a regional print magazine into a national source for moms in print, online and national live events, such as Mother's Day Eve®. Fun fact: Elke could weld before she could drive. Her superpower is naming stuff.