To succeed in social media you need a certain personality and a connection to a surrounding environment. Internet based social media environments are similar somewhat to physical social environments with different rules. In virtual social media networks people respond different than in real life. Some people understand quickly how to behave in virtual social media world, they are not necessarily the ones who do well in the “real world”. But overall, if you are a good real world social networker you will have a head start. Social media sites live by people’s expression and by the connections you make. So you need to say something before anyone responds. If you have a cause, a business, a professional expertise or even just a personal experience in something (I know of a mother of 5 who has been passionate about nutrition and health, the kids show it) start with what you have. Choose your media type, some people do better with writing, some speak better and create MP3 clips and some are good with video. There are people who just photograph or cartoon. Today, social media sites are open in so many ways and supports many media types there is lots of flexibility. Add to that the type of messages and you can do just about anything. All these variations combined are called “mash up” the combination of all kind of “types” of media and types of messages.
Are you always a critic? Do you always see how things are “not good” or “can use improvement”? Simon Cowell from American Idol made criticism and an attitude toward perfection into a successful career (he has a wonderful personality.) You can do the same with software programs and food packaging. Do you always imagine what could be next? Or see that one product is missing a crucial feature? Do you see how people interact and can tell how they feel about each other? There use to be a game on TV where two people in a cafe are videotaped and you have to guess what is going on with them: are they lovers? are they making a business deal? Some people notice small gestures and eye movements or facial expressions. You can do the same with people’s comments when they write. It takes a certain sense of looking at the small signs we put out. Use that skill to blog about videos of politicians on TV (most people ignore clips on the news.) You can also give tips and train people how to notice and respond a little better. Do you like to cook or bake? Do you have a better way to put together a menu for people allergic to some kind of food? One way to see the range of social media is to look at examples. Take a look at blogs (Google has a blog search feature.) Linked-In, MySpace and Facebook also have million of pages with information about people, groups and services. If you are good at managing teams you can gather a few people and create a bigger site. In technology there are a few big sites run by a group of contributors. Some of these projects are big sites with newspaper like articles and wide coverage of news and products in their specialty area (slash-dot, Oreily RADAR.)
Most people describe themselves as social (very few would say they are unsocial.) Being social in everyday life is meeting people, contributing in conversations and discussions and making personal connections at work and other places. Personality traits do not always translate into virtual Internet world, but they help. The same with social interactions: most physical social groups do not have parallel in the virtual world. As an individual, you need to invent a social media persona to make it in the virtual world. Start out with a group or a site that feels comfortable. Make contacts and interact in conversations. Help people find information or make suggestions in areas you know. Eventually you will make contacts and will befriend people with common interests. Some social networkers create a different personality than in real life. In the technology world there are people who are very shy in real life but in social networks they are chatty and helpful. There are still many areas which the virtual world is open to experts and thought leaders, some people make themselves “virtual experts” by learning and researching. There are many bloggres which have done this are are successful networkers now. This approach is starting to show itself in social sites like Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In. For small businesses and individuals today this may be the best way to promote your work. Some companies and products are starting to use social media with a personality angle. A spokes person creates a personality representing a product. That is a whole other discussion in product marketing.