Internet Cocktail Party


You can listen to the audio version of this blog here.

Recently, I listened to some podcast (I feel like I could almost start everything I write that way) talking about how most people’s attempts a social media doesn’t work due to not having a plan. For most, social media is just a “when I feel like it” kind of thing, which is why there are so many people who are still trying to wrap their head around the importance of it. 

It isn’t just some magical solution that makes you money, as many would hope. It requires work and planning just like everything else in this world. 

Not only that, it requires posting things that people connect with, not simply advertisements for what you make or sell or do. 

While I’ve gotten burnt out on the whole social media thing a few times, I’d say I’ve been pretty relentless over the past few years at trying to find my flow with it. After years of data gathering, I’ve pretty much found what works the best for me: blogging (boosts my SEO extremely quickly), photos (obviously), and eventually podcasts (I think people are generally too busy to watch videos all the time. Busy people like podcasts though.)

Back to the podcast I listened to (I believe it was the Building a StoryBrand podcast, which I don’t really listen to often but every once in a while I catch an episode): The guest basically said to imagine the internet as a big cocktail party. 

If you think about it, that totally makes sense. What are things we do on social media that we would never do at a cocktail party?

Run around constantly posting ads about ourselves

When I go to a networking event, there’s a level to which you need to sell yourself, but it needs to be in conversation rather than dressing like a clown and dancing around with one of those signs saying “AMAZING DEALS”. 

The reason Facebook ads work so well is because they often times don’t feel like ads, AKA a conversation at a networking event where you’re drinking beers and hanging out. (I have a blog post to go along with next week’s podcast where we address this a bit more)

Talking about ourselves ONLY

Social media accounts of only selfies and paragraph captions about how hard someone’s life always seems to be is just as exhausting to experience on social media as it is real life. You know those people who you like when you’re with them in person, but their social media persona is intolerable? (we’ll pretend that I’m not one of them just for the sake of this conversation) It’s because they offer no value or anything to relate to on social media; it all just seems like naval gazing and “self-love”. 

There’s a reason you see more posts like that on social media than you actually hear in real life: because no one really wants to actually sit through one of those conversations.

Outraging or calling people out

There’s a reason I got in trouble for my “Photographers are Greedy” blog post a few years ago (although I was surprised by the willingness to confront me in person on a couple occasions). Stuff like that divides people. It doesn’t actually build people up or build a strong community, it breaks relationships down. Building a social media presence on outrage or calling out certain groups (AKA all of politics right now) builds an audience for sure, but it shuns as many people as it brings in. 

I’ve had people close to me give me a hard time for feeling like I shouldn’t share my political views on social media, and here’s my official thoughts on that: If I were to share my political views online, than I should take my existing audience and just cut them in half. Instantly, my brand of who I am online would become attached to politics and it would distract from what I actually do. If we are to apply the “cocktail party” rule, you hear a lot less political talk in real life than you do online. There’s a reason for that. 

You know what is fun to talk about at cocktail parties? Hilarious anecdotes, cool valuable tips, and almost anything positive that other people are actually interested in. Generosity is rewarded in real life, so why do we feel like we don’t have to be generous online too?

What no one’s saying, but I have to believe is that most people get as eye-rolly as me when they see solipsists online who’s feed is literally only about them. We get caught up in the numbers, so when we see an obnoxious person have a lot of likes and followers, we convince ourselves that we have to be like that too. If we treat social media with a people-focused generosity, just like we know we should in real-life, I think we’ll see greater success than ever before. 

This post is getting long, so I’ll cut it off here. I want to talk about the consistency and planning aspect of this social media stuff (and what I’ve learned from posting daily), but that’s a whole other post. 

(Stay tuned for a Part 2 on this next week followed by a new episode of Out of Focus)

You can listen to the audio version of this blog here.