Renee Ballard

Feel your way in

If you’ve been dipping your toe into social media, but you’re not really sure entirely about what you’re doing, it can feel like you’re wading through mud, in a maze and that’s not a moreish feeling. It’s pretty much a repellent one and I think that’s where a lot of people stop being curious about social media and start feeling intimidated by the whole thing. But before you veer away entirely from social media, confident you’re never going to ‘get it’, I’d invite you to put down any expectations you have of ‘getting it’ and feel in to your curiosity.

Are you intrigued with how Instagram works? Does Twitter look like a different language, but one you’d like to speak? Have you visited a Facebook page of someone you admire and think I’d like a piece of that? If you’ve got the curiosity there, then that’s more than enough to feel your way through learning how to use these channels.

The fear of technology is real to me. If I have to get an API key for a PayPay thingy and link it to a newsletter mailing list, I start to scramble in panic. BUT, I swear, social media technology isn’t like that. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are user-friendly. They have to be to survive. The world’s best coders, user experience experts, web designers and information architects work for them and what they produce is so slick, we don’t even notice their brilliance. These sites, (LinkedIn is a borderline one), are made to illicit interaction out of you, that’s how they stay vibrant and attractive. The last thing they want to do is trip you up or make you feel like you can’t participate.

That said, I still think it’s important to start off slow. No need to start posting or commenting even. If you’re curious to learn more about a channel, start hanging out there, a couple of minutes every day. It’s only through repetition that you’ll start to notice the finer points. Gently find and follow some people you like the look and sound of, and see what they have to say. Watching is AOK to start with. Without the pressure of engaging or posting, you can spend time watching how the whole thing works, the language, the process. When that feels ‘normal’, then move your way into engaging.

There’s no guarantee you won’t make a ‘mistake’ and post a typo or upload a link that doesn’t work, but if you’ve spent a little time there first, it won’t matter, because you know the lie of the land. Most everything is undoable on these channels, because it’s the same thing as before, these channels want you to come back, not scare you off by being inflexible.

Leaning in first to feel how the channels work gives you a good foundation build from. Making the unknown known is what takes out the bewildered feeling.

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