Everything I Need to Know About Social Media, I Learned on the Playground

There are countless social media consultants and experts out there providing valuable guidance to brands in social media. As I look at some of the opportunities and struggles we face in social media, I think back to lessons I learned as a child. Social is operative word in social media; so do the lessons we learn as children about how to be social apply to today’s fast moving social media landscape?

1. We need to share

shareThe earliest lesson you learn with siblings and playmates is you have to be willing to share to have a good time. We have 6 kids and its a constant battle of wills as many want to play with the same toy at the same time. It doesn’t matter what toy – when one child is playing with a certain toy, several of them want to play with it. We need to learn how to share our toys and share our time on the playground equipment.

In social media, we need to learn how to share and interact with other people. It’s not enough just to talk about ourselves, we need to be willing to share what other people are doing and be interested in their life, work, and efforts.

2. We’re surrounded by unique people

We often create our strongest friendship bonds at school. Even the closest of friends are different and unique. On the playground, we play with people of different ethnicities, social status, incomes, religions – none of it matters when it comes time for recess. Throughout life, we are always surrounded by people who are different than we are – the playground teaches us how to interact with them.

At FH, being an international organization, we have strong contingents of fans from all around the globe interacting with us. On any given day, we may talk with someone in Bangladesh, India, Guatemala, the US, and Canada. All of these people are in different spots in life, have different needs, and communicate with us with their own world views. We had to learn how to communicate in ways that work internationally and not just to a US audience.

As your organization grows in social media, you’ll find that you interact with all sorts of people and need to know how to speak with them where they are at.

3. Be aware of our surroundings

When I was about 7, I was crossing monkey bars and didn’t see the older boys walking across the top plank. One of them decided to swing down from the plank and didn’t see me as his shoes connected with my head and knocked me to the ground.

There is constant action on the playground and if you aren’t paying attention, you might find yourself laying flat on your back seeing stars. Social media moves so quickly and so much happens that you may find yourself caught unaware in a situation and saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. For example, if a disaster strikes or a terror attack happens, you need to take a moment and pause your prescheduled messaging to ensure the right message goes out to your audience. Being aware of your surroundings is crucial to not ending up knocked out needing stitches.

4. See someone new? Ask them to join you

When we were kids, it was never a problem including someone new in the fun. When we take our kids to the playground, our older daughters always seem to make a new friend. They see someone they don’t know and immediately create a game to invite them in.

You will find yourself discovering new people and groups in social media that you didn’t know existed. Invite them to play – include them in the conversation. You never know what impact your new friend will make on your organization.

5. Great sidewalk art gets noticed

chalk-artYour inner artist is on display for everyone when you find a sidewalk and some chalk. As you draw your masterpiece, people notice your art skills – they see the time and effort you put into your life’s work, your 6 years on this earth leading up to the moment you create a beautiful self portrait. Chalk and a flat piece of concrete can create Picasso.

Your social profiles are a reflection of your brand. Create a great header image, profile image, and shareables. Don’t spare an expense when it comes to showing off your brand.

6. Eventually recess is over and we have to get back to work

Eventually the fun must come to end. The bell rings and its time to head back in to do some real work. Social media is a phenomenal tool to connect with people – your donors, stakeholders, and new people. Treat the opportunities you have each day as fresh and exciting – but know when it’s time to design a campaign, answer your client’s questions, or build the next experience for your audience.

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