This guest post comes from Darren Rowse. Darren is the blogger behind ProBlogger and a co-author of the soon to be released ProBlogger Book – a book about how bloggers can improve their blogs and make a living from the medium. Darren is the fourth in my series featuring the Top Social Media Dads.
4 Tips for Social Media Toddlers
My son is fast approaching the age of 2 (he’ll reach that milestone at the start of July) and watching him grow and develop is one of the most wonderful experiences that I’ve ever had.
It’s a period of life where there are such remarkable changes occurring on a daily basis. In the last year he’s:
learned to take his first steps and then progress to running
discovered an ability to communicate, first through gestures and sounds and then through forming those sounds into single words and more recently discovering that it’s more effective to put two or more words together
-discovered how to get his way to make others laugh (and get angry)
-started comprehending how to follow rules
-learned how to feed himself (well partly – it’s still messy)
-to make messes (and when he’s in the mood to clean them up)
The list grows every day. It’s very exciting to watch – although there are ‘those days’ where everything he tries seems to lead to tears and frustration.
So what’s this got to do with social media?
Social media feels like it’s been around for ever – but the realization that I had this week was that many of us are still learning to use it.
For me the journey started juts five years ago with my first blog. I added to my online presence in more recent times by starting to use Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon and many other ‘social media’ sites – but every day that I use them I come to the realization that most of us are like toddlers and are on a journey of discovery.
I’m a Social Media Toddler
It’s an exciting journey most days – but one that also has ‘those days’ of frustration.
So what can my little Son teach us about getting through our toddler years as social media users:
Experiment – one of the main things that my wife and I are attempting to instill in our young one is to encourage him to experiment and try new things. This happens in a number of spheres of his life including ‘new food’ (surely there’s only so many bananas and jam sandwiches someone so small can consume!), new skills, new words, new people etc.
The more experiments he does the more he learns he can do, the more discoveries he makes, the more mistakes he makes, the more experiences he has. The result of all this is growth, maturity, development and understanding.
The same is true with social media. Many bloggers that I come across tell me that social media doesn’t ‘work’. When I unpack this with them I find that most simply set up profiles on social media sites and never actually try anything on them. The more you experiment with mediums like Twitter and Facebook the more you’ll discover on what does and doesn’t ‘work’ in helping you to achieve your goals.
Develop What Works – when my son makes a new discovery in life he will become obsessed with it. If you’ve hung around with young children you know what I mean. This week his ‘thing’ is to say ‘Bye’ to things. Everytime he leaves a room he turns around to it and begins to say ‘Bye’ to everything in it that he can name. ‘Bye Light’. ‘Bye Chair’. ‘Bye Mummee’. ‘Bye Poo’ (when changing nappy), ‘Bye Wiggles’. ‘Bye Ball’. He’s obsessed with saying bye to things.
What’s he doing? He’s cementing in his mind that ability to recognize that he’s leaving something. He’s developing his vocabulary, ability to name things and he’s putting words together in ways that he’s never done before. He’s also being very cute (until you want to quickly leave a room and he insists on saying ‘bye’ to every item in it). He has made a discovery and he’s honing his skills with it and taking it to the next level.
As Social Media Toddlers we can learn a thing or two from this. Experimenting is not enough – take what you learn that ‘works’ and repeat it. If you ask a particular type of question on Twitter and get 10 times as many replies as normal, you might just be onto something. Try it again. If you use an add-on on Facebook that your friends respond to well – keep using it and finding ways to take it to the next level. If you write something on your blog and get a ton of traffic from StumbleUpon develop the idea in future posts and work out what it was about the original post that connected with people so you can draw on the lesson again.
Watch Others – alongside ‘experimenting’ on his own, I’d say that my son learns mainly through watching those around him. Sometimes I’ll be doing something (washing the dishes, working on my laptop, weeding the garden….) and he’ll have gone all quiet. At first I panic a little because he rarely goes all quiet unless he’s emptying the linen cupboard or using his crayons to redecorate his bedroom walls – but more often than not he’s gone all quiet because he’s simply sitting there watching me.
Ten minutes later I’ll find him studiously doing something that is his attempt at what I was just doing (smashing dishes in the pantry, using an old keyboard that I gave him while sitting in front of the TV or pulling out plants in the backyard). OK – so he doesn’t always get it right, but he is learning so much by watching and listening to those around him.
As Social Media Toddlers I think this is key. There are literally millions of bloggers, Twitterers, Facebook users and participants in the social media space. Many of these people are making incredible discoveries about the mediums everyday. Take time out each day to observe what they are learning and experimenting with and ask yourself how it might be applied to your own situation. While not everything that works for someone else will work for you in your situation – a lot is transferable or adaptable. Watch, learn and apply what others are doing!
Have Fun and be Free – I wish I could be 2 again somedays. My Son’s life is so simple, so innocent and so much fun. He doesn’t get bogged down on what others think about him, he enters into things with such energy and passion, he floats from one thing to another without feeling the constraints of having to do things certain ways.
So many of us as Social Media Toddlers seem to get bogged down by the way things should be done or by being concerned of how others will receive us – but perhaps we need to approach it with a little more with childlike abandonment.
You can follow Darren on Twitter here.