Rules of (Digital) Engagement
If you are reading this right now, it’s likely that you engage digitally for business and/or pleasure. There is a big, bright, virtual world out there for you to explore; offering entertainment, inspiration, information and opportunity.
That said, if you don’t engage with purpose, all of those amazing benefits will turn to distraction, frustration and a black hole of mindless reacting. It is also easy to start measuring your self worth in terms of subscribers, followers, friends and word count. All of those things are meaningless.
Follow these rules for a more enjoyable, efficient, honest digital experience.
This is my favorite tool to connect with people for business and pleasure.
- Don’t follow everyone that follows you or you will spend all of your Twitter time reacting.
- Instead of asking for retweets, share something that people feel compelled to share.
- Set a time limit when you go to twitter.
- Share something helpful.
- Ask questions and answer questions.
- Have a conversation. With people.
- Don’t watch for updates or for people to mention you.
- When 20 minutes are up, sign out.
I have a personal Facebook account with fewer than 50 friends. My close friends and family are on this list and no one else. For a while I connected with more people, but knew there was a problem when I was looking at a “friend’s” vacation pictures who I hadn’t talked to in more than 20 years, while my vacation pictures were still on an SD card.
- don’t answer the question “what’s on your mind”. Somethings are better left unsaid.
- set a time limit. 20 minutes is usually enough.
- thoughtfully engage.
- Have conversations. With people.
This is an awesome tool to chat via video or audio. It’s free for Skype to Skype calls and very inexpensive to use as a phone line to call land lines or mobile phones.
- Don’t assume that because someone is “on Skype” they want to talk.
- Send a text chat through Skype and ask “is this a good time?” Even better, set an appointment. That shows you value your time and theirs.
- Set your status to “away” or “invisible” if you are on another call or otherwise engaged.
If you currently receive an email when someone unsubscribes from your mailing list, or twitter feed, or facebook page, stop that. Pay attention to the overall trend of the numbers, but not the individual unsubscribes. When you are following someone that isn’t adding value to your life or digital experience, unfollow.
Unless you are transporting organs for transplants, you don’t need immediate notifications about anything. You can find what you need to know on your own time. When it matters. If it matters. Notifications are distractions.
- Turn off notifications. All of them.
- Your phone shouldn’t remind you that you have email.
- The first thing you see when you open your computer doesn’t have to be an announcement of who is on or off Skype.
- You don’t need an email to tell you who subscribed and who unsubscribed from anything.
- Birds don’t need to chirp when someone mentions you on Twitter.
There is some amazing information being written and recorded and shared, but you don’t need to consume all of it.
- Instead of scanning 30 blog posts a day, thoughtfully read 5 a week.
- Engage, comment, or share something special that you read instead of catching up or keeping up with 100′s of posts in your blog reader.
- Most reading material is not time sensitive. Set aside an hour each week to read your favorite blogs, instead of squeezing them in between tasks.
If you’ve ever spent a work day sending and receiving email and wondering why nothing got done, these rules will help.
- Follow my 5 rules for email sanity.
- Don’t check email first thing in the morning. Do the things that mean most to you first, instead of reacting to what is important to everyone else.
- Limit email engagement to a few times a day instead of checking every few minutes to see if you have mail.
These are the rules I follow. They aren’t the rules. Make them your own and modify them to work better for you. The point is that you are thoughtfully engaging. Understand that everytime you tweet, or post or hit publish, you are asking for someone’s attention. If you value people, and their attention, you’ll begin to share meaningful information and to share less.
Always keep in mind that followers, readers, friends, and stangers who email you are people. Clients, prospects and leads are people. Treat them like people. If you want to develop personal friendships online, think of other people when you share information. If you want to be successful in business, think less about strategy and more about people.
Last, but not least, please don’t follow any of these rules in your car. The most important thing you can do when you’re driving is drive. Turn your phone off when you get in your car. (unless you transport organs for transplants)
If you scanned through this post and missed most of the rules above, just follow these 3 rules of engagement:
Be kind. Solve problems. Make someone smile.
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