I work as a social media consultant to professionals, which means I help them develop authentic personal brands online. I’m also a primary parenting dad, which means I’m the one who holds down the fort on a daily basis – not my wife.
In the course of my work, I come across a lot of lists about how to be effective using social media. And I got to thinking that these lists are quite instructive about being good at lots of things – for instance, being a good dad and parent.
So, here’s my consolidated list of suggestions for how to be effective at social media – and at parenting:
1. Be authentic.
In social media: Transparency, it is said, is the new objectivity. Trying to be someone you’re not is deadly when you’re building a personal brand. Know yourself and be true.
In parenting: Kids are natural born truth-tellers and genuine innocents. They can smell your bullshit a mile away. Even if they don’t let on, they know you’re not being straight with them. Lack of authenticity is like a slow-acting poison in parent-child relationships.
2. Be responsive.
In social media: When clients and prospects reach out with feedback or a comment on your blog, that’s your golden opportunity to engage. Even negative feedback can be an opportunity to strengthen your brand.
In parenting: Talk when your kids want to talk – even if it’s past their bedtime or inconvenient. Being responsive in these situations encourages more communication and deepens your relationship. A time will surely come when they stop asking.
3. Add value.
In social media: Quality, not quantity rules. Constructive contributions that move discussions forward or make new connections – that’s what you want people to associate with your brand.
In parenting: Preaching at kids isn’t half as effective as doing real things with them. If you want them to eat healthy food, teach them to cook. If you want them to be community-minded, volunteer with them. If you want them to appreciate the outdoors, get out there and experience it with them.
4. Be consistent.
In social media: Stick with it. Start your blog and do what’s necessary to maintain the quality and consistency of the content. Choose your engagements wisely and learn how to say no to the wrong ones.
In parenting: Be firm. Set boundaries and stick to them. Do what you say you’re going to do – don’t make promises you can’t keep. There’s lots of opportunity for your kids to be disappointed by life and to discover the vagaries and gray areas of human existence. Start them off with a solid foundation – let them know there are people in this world they can rely on.
5. Show your personality.
In social media: Subject matter expertise and professional credibility is a necessary, but insufficient, condition of success. People do business with people they know and trust.
In parenting: Ultimately, God willing, your kids will grow up and you will have a relationship with them as adults. Don’t be afraid to be yourself with them – show them the real you, warts and all. They’ll figure it out in the end anyway.
6. Find your niche.
In social media: Become expert at something and build your reputation around that topic. Narrowcasting is the essence of the new media revolution.
In parenting: Know what you’re really good at and get help with the rest. And by “get” I mean “accept” help from your partner, your friends and your family.
In social media: It’s a two-way conversation, so spend at least half your time listening to what your clients are saying. Plus, a good seller always listens more than he talks.
In parenting: Pay attention to what they’re saying. Put the smart phone away and try to be present as much as possible. (I know, easier said than done.)
8. Be a giver, not a taker.
In social media: Helping others solve problems and understand what’s going on around them is the coin of the realm. Givers get back more than they give.
In parenting: Give love. Give patience. Give attention. Give honesty. Give selflessly.
In social media, our goal is to build deep, trusting relationships with those people who matter most in our professional lives – clients, prospects and professional colleagues.
What better goal could we have for the relati0nships we are building with our children?