So, you want to use social media (or you really don’t, but you feel like you should) – Part 5

This is (finally) the last entry in a 5 part series about the excuses we make for not leaping into the slightly suspicious-smelling pool that is social media. You can find links to all 5 entries here in Part 1.

5. But I’m no good at it!

This is probably the kicker. Out of all the excuses this one’s the one that is the closest to my heart. You hear over and over how a bad internet presence is worse than no internet presence. It’s pretty hard to exist online — especially with any degree of fame — without offending people and getting trolled and losing readers or being boring or self promoting too much or not enough. Any number of things can go wrong. And it’s HARD (for most people, I reckon), and time consuming, to be good at it.

Obviously what constitutes ‘good’ is subjective, but I think having a ‘good’ social media presence means one that is regular and generally one or more of the following: funny, interesting, or helpful. Which is bloody hard, let’s face it. You essentially want everything you say online to be a greatest hits of your best wit and sparkle from your day to day life, and god some days that might seem like picking raisins out of baby poo.

But the good news is, it’s just like almost anything* else: you get better at it the more you practice. I tend to think that writing (and a lot of social media is just writing, albeit maybe a different kind to the type you’re used to) is one of those magic things that you really do improve at without doing anything else but putting words on the screen, over and over, until you eventually hate those words slightly less. Maybe you even regard them with some warmth. They might make your Christmas card list, but let’s not go crazy. That aside, you can also learn by observing. Read the twitter feeds of other people and see what works and what doesn’t. See what the people you know (or want to know) seem to respond to.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of options for easing into it. If you’re inclined, as I am, toward wordiness and rambling, facebook and blogging might be more your friends initially than twitter. If you’re an unselfconscious 20-something maybe you can communicate entirely through selfies on instagram or videos on YouTube. If you… OK I can’t think of anything that would make you use Google+. Anyway, you get the point. Options, baby. Start with the ones you don’t feel so awkward about and eventually start sidling up to the others and mumbling pleasantries. Alcohol might help.** Talk to people – comment on their posts, answer their questions, slowly start inserting yourself into discussions so you don’t have the pressure of showing up to the party and just shouting things in the corner til the nice man with the bow tie and vest asks you if you need a taxi.

I mean look at this – I’ve managed to keep this post down to a manageable length! Progress, yeah?

Happy social media-ing, guys.

Important addendum: It is possible that you actually are terrible at this. Like, you can’t get online without insulting people, being constantly inflammatory, trolling, spreading hateful messages or just otherwise being a all-purposes jerk. If this is the case, almost certainly because you are in fact a horrible person and you’re not even capable of masking how horrible you are for your own self interest, then please, stay offline. It will only hurt you.


* Skills I have failed to acquire despite repeating the activity over and over include ‘being able to read news articles without reading the comments’; ‘singing’; ‘being able to read the comments without getting angry’; ‘walking while swallowing’.

** Or it might really not. I tend to think things are a lot funnier than they are with a glass of wine in hand, and then all of a sudden I’m live tweeting a TV show that aired approximately 10 years ago. And being really overly interested in how comfortable the armchairs in the show look (just in case there had been any previous implication that I had any semblance of cool***).

*** If you haven’t yet picked up on this, I do not in fact have any semblance of cool.

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