On the Benefits of Being Called Out.

I’ve been thinking about how I share things on social media. There have been many times where I’ve written a blog or had something else to share, but just haven’t been able to make the logistics of sharing it at the right time work, for various reasons. As a result, I’ve ended up sitting on it, making the effort to create something, then backing out of doing anything with it.

In the past I’ve attempted to use Hootsuite as a way of managing my social media presence, but its mass of features and feeds was too much. I need to be able to share what I need to share, at the right time, but still be present for conversations and to access the things others are sharing.

I’m happy to read and interact with my feeds natively on their respective platforms, but I just want to be able to share things like blog posts at the right time and volume. After some research, I decided to try Buffer, the simplest social media scheduler I could find and last week I used it to schedule a run of Tweets and Facebook posts.

As easy as it was, it brought with it various new headaches – what type of information to post, how often to post, when to post, how to keep it relevant and not become noise and how to make sure I pick up on any conversations, for starters. I decided to post four times a day on Twitter and twice on Facebook. Some interesting things happened.

I’m going to write a full post on effectively scheduling social media posts imminently, but for now I’m focussing on authenticity. This little experiment made me think about that, a lot.

It happened that the week I chose to try Buffer, I was away from social media for up to 18 hours a day. It was really handy to keep some kind of presence in my absence, but it also meant I was unable to contribute live to resulting conversations. This was strangely stressful and I failed to thank everyone for retweets and shares, but it was fun to come in late and catch up on a #NoEmail conversation that evolved into #LessEmail (thanks Doug and Perry!).

Away from the automation of standard sharing, the big learning was that being called out is ok.

One of the reasons I’ve always stayed live in social media conversations, held back on over-sharing and refrained from pushing forward with personal perspectives is the fear of pissing people off. It’s always an illogically strange feeling to lose followers or receive a negative tweet, making it easier to keep your opinions on the sidelines. In scheduling my posts to share regularly, I had to put myself out there and see what happened.

It was, in fact, very liberating. Despite my misgivings at not being as available as I’d like for follow-up, a level of conversation did emerge and it was all constructive. The thing I appreciated most was being called out on a statement I’d made:

When we purchase a book, we don’t see (or benefit from) the hours and efforts of the author, we just enjoy consuming the result.

It was rightly pointed out to me that the statement was not true and that the person reading my blog was doing so because they appreciated the hours and efforts I put into it. Fair point!

I was attempting to make a point about how, in the information age, content is increasingly consumed voraciously and often available free, removing focus from the craft for many, but I’d worded the sentence very sweepingly and over-generalised. After my initial feeling of shit – I’ve annoyed someone whose opinion I really value, I thought about the feedback. It was, of course, right and we entered into an interesting conversation on Twitter about Lowest Common Denominator Economics@SimonHeath1).

As a direct result of this, I reflected on my writing as well as had a really interesting conversation. What was to be scared of?

The problem is, being picked up constructively in an open domain is different to being trolled, yet it’s easy to fear it just as much. Exposing our opinions and thoughts in public welcomes feedback and when people provide it honestly, it’s a gift – we should all encourage it. Conversation helps evolve our perspective and ideas further, it’s the absolute essence of sharing.

By receiving it we learn and can develop. It’s essential.

Buffer helped me put myself out there, now I need to return the favour and make myself present for the resulting conversations. Social media isn’t just about broadcasting… it’s a two-way thing!

Coming soon: Ways to effectively use social media scheduling while remaining authentic.