Clowns freak people out. I don’t know why, although when I asked that question publicly a few people mentioned Stephen King’s IT and I can totally understand the issues that book would raise for you.
As I started looking into this phenomenon, I stumbled across an even better one. Apparently, learning to be good at social media and learning to be a clown have a lot of things in common.
According to eHow, here are five tips for becoming a clown:
- Do some research.
- Develop your character.
- Get some skills.
- Learn how to be clumsy and graceful at the same time.
- Have an easily recognizable trait that makes your clown unique.
The same five tips can easily apply to excelling at social media, with the advantage of not having to wear layers of makeup, dying your hair orange or scaring the hell out of people who are ordinarily considered “tough.” Of course, you can do all those things if you want to, but why scare people away from your Twitter feed or your Facebook page unnecessarily?
So, try some clown tips to excel at social media:
1. Do some research. Where is the audience you are trying to reach and what is the best way to reach them? What kind of commitment are you willing to make? Being successful on Twitter requires a lot more time than being successful on Facebook. How much privacy are you willing to give up? Being open and transparent helps you make a connection with followers and friends, but that means the concept of “worlds colliding” takes on a whole new level. How are you going to connect with your social media outlets — by desktop, laptop, or phone; can you do it at home and at work and while you’re on the road?
2. Develop your character. First, plan on being yourself if you want to succeed at social media, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have some character. If you aren’t interesting to listen to when you tell stories, you find that out pretty quickly by the number of people who avoid being subjected to them. If you’re boring online, it’s even worse. There is a level of disconnected anonymity that makes it much easier for people to unfollow or unfriend you in cyberspace than they can in real life. However, be interesting without being over-the-top crazy. Maybe start with floppy shoes and hold off on the orange hair and red nose until people get to know you better.
3. Get some skills. Don’t know how to set up a Facebook page or break into the Twitter stream? There are plenty of people willing to help you out for free and there are self-help articles all over the Internet. If you are so inclined, there are conferences and seminars you can pay for to hear from folks who not only understand social media but have some skills to teach what they know to others. There really is no reason for anyone to honestly say, “I don’t understand social media,” or “I don’t know how to get involved in social networking” anymore.
4. Learn how to be clumsy and graceful at the same time. There is no right way to tweet. There is no tried and true formula for Facebook success. We are all learning as we go along here and anyone who says they’ve “mastered” social media is wrong. Some days, I broadcast tweets I’m really proud of because of the value they provide. Sometimes I put a great quote on Facebook that others really like. Then there are the clunkers — the things that sounded a lot funnier or more witty in my head than they do after I press the SEND button. And you won’t be on Twitter long before you send a private direct message to the world because you forgot the stupid “D” at the beginning. Or you might inadvertently post something to Facebook with a typo. It’s tough to take things back from cyberspace, but you can simply accept them and live to tweet another day.
5. Have an easily recognizable trait that makes you unique. There are millions of people on Twitter. There are 400 million Facebook users. There are billions of status updates being sent out in a continual stream of shared consciousness the likes of which we never thought possible. Why should anyone listen to you? Why should anyone follow a link you’ve tweeted instead of the thousands of others available to them at that moment? There are 10 to 13 hours of video being uploaded every minute to YouTube — so why should someone give you the honor of grabbing their miniscule attention span for the next few minutes? So find a way to stand out — either by the clever things you say, the links you offer, the expertise you provide, the fun you add, or, ideally, a combination of all of those — and you can excel at social media.
Of course, I suppose you could always just take a picture of yourself dressed up as a clown and post it as your avatar. If nothing else, you might get a good debate raging about why clowns are either innocent fun for children’s parties or Beelzebub dressed in baggy pants.
(Photo courtesy of Matthew Stewart via Flickr.)