At an event a while ago, I attended a workshop about social media. As a part of it, we were asked to take a simple personality test which would reveal how we act online.
The test is simple, and the results give you three out of six outcomes:
Open or Closed
Supportive or Controlling
Selective or Random
What does that mean?
Large institutions are generally closed, controlling and selective – it’s the way they’ve had to be until now: a closed institution that is selective and controlling of what goes in and out.
Within a social network though, the opposite is most beneficial: to be open and supportive of taking on new ideas, and allow things to randomly happen rather than selecting what will occur. Thomas Power argues that network thinking like this is the future, and we are currently in the process of transitioning.
Well, take me for example. It will probably come as no surprise to you that when I took the test, I came out as Open, Random and Supportive. Most of my life is documented online, in one way or another. I have many friends on social networks that I’ve met once or twice, if at all. I love to gather people and information into my networks, and to form genuine connections with them. I love it when I can introduce one online friend to another because I know they would get on, they have a lot in common, or have similar ideas about business.
Thinking of this in terms of my social media presence, I published a post yesterday about making your Facebook page work for you, and how I make mine work for me. It occurs to me that perhaps my Facebook page works for me because I am generally open, random and supportive with it. I don’t hold back on what I want to post; unless it’s really of a personal nature or affects another person, I will usually choose to post it on my page rather than my personal profile. I don’t filter anything, and share links and information from a wide range of sources on a wide range of topics.
The world is transitioning from Closed, Selective and Controlling to Open, Random and Supportive. Social media is a massive part of this. Remember 20 years ago when, if you had a problem with a company and you were really cross you would write a letter, or perhaps call in to BBC Watchdog and hope they could help? These days you don’t need to do either of those things; you can go online and complain to your heart’s content. In forums, on the company’s Facebook page, on your Facebook page and all over Twitter with some well chosen hashtags. The times, they are a-changin’ and they’re becoming more open, random and supportive in nature.
In order to be successful online, we need to communicate who we are before mentioning what we do. People want to engage with us based on who we are, what our beliefs are, what we have in common, whether we seem interesting. What we do comes much later in the conversation, when we have already wowed them with our amazing personalities.
It’s the difference between walking into a crowded pub, handing someone our business card and then bolting… and starting a conversation with someone at the bar about a genuine shared point of interest.