How to be more social

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Photo by Anggie

Social media is a game changer. On this platform, individuals and companies of various scales have the opportunity to play on the same field. Your brand, which includes your social cause interests, is no different. You can gain support for the causes you care about and go in front of important influencers you otherwise wouldn’t meet. So how do you use social media as an added tool for your digital reputation?

Here are three ways to make your social media presence is more socially conscious:

1 |  Build A Reputation Of Being A Socially Conscious Information Source

When there’s a cause that you care about, you can virtually share news on any social media site, but each has it’s own strength. Facebook is by far the most used social media site for users with 30 percent of users getting their news from that site. On there, you can easily share news and info with friends. However, it’s not an easy platform to reach users that you don’t personally know. Twitter is great for discussion but has a 140-character limit. Instagram appeals to users visual senses with pictures and video but does not support clickable links inside captions.

LinkedIn is an often overlooked resource, though. Publishing a post on LinkedIn is an awesome way to share information without a character or link limit. View these posts the same as you would a blog post. You can format it the exact same way and include images, links, or video.

At the end of your post, always add a call-to-action, which is a line that persuades the reader to do something: engage in conversation, visit a website, or anything else that continues the content of the post. Link back to any relevant nonprofit websites, fundraising pages, or other social media accounts.

2 | Post Only What You Know And Only What Can Be Confirmed As True

The point of disseminating information on social media is to be seen as a trusted choice. Just as a newspaper is expected to share only factual information, your followers assume that what you share is always true. If it isn’t, you lose credibility as an information source and often times, people may unfollow.

Only share information from trusted sources. If there is an interesting article on a website that you’ve never read, give the entire site a glance before hitting the share button. If you’re still not sure, just do a quick confirmation on other sites you do trust just to be sure. It is a great way to share new articles from new, interesting publications while ensuring that you aren’t sharing falsities. It’s sometimes okay to share satire news, but only when you are transparent about it being a joke. Focusing on accuracy and transparency is key.

3 | Find Like-Minded People And Make It Easier For People To Find You

When looking for other people that are interested in the same causes, Twitter is a good connection source. Its advanced search feature is amazing, and you can even localize your search to those near you — especially beneficial if your interest lies in a local cause such as homelessness in Chicago or human trafficking in Atlanta.

Similarly, Twitter is designed to help others find you. Utilize this function by adding clear hashtags within your actual profile, in addition to your posts. These keywords show up in searches and can significantly increase the number of followers that find you, but be careful not to use words that are too general. You don’t want to be a huge target for spam.

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Although Instagram does not currently have an advanced search, hashtags for posts work here, too. Periodically scan popular hashtags and look for users that like to discuss issues. See if they reply to other users and what that conversation is like. Look for engagement and two-way conversations.

TIP! Looking for a hashtags to find people in the social good space, simply use #socialgood and #socent

FROM THE EDITORAt Conscious, we are inspired by remarkable people and organizations, and so we set out to tell stories that highlight global initiatives, innovation, community development, and social impact. You can read more stories like this when you subscribe. 

socializing at work

Before we talk about ways to be more social, we need to talk about why. 

Not everyone naturally wants to be an extroverted social butterfly, or even necessarily should.  Fortunately, you do not need to be a bubbly, party-circulator with gobs of friends you hang out with every night, to channel the benefits of social interaction in the workplace.

So even if you have a case of lone wolf syndrome, take a look at how (and why) to be more social at the office. It’s a great goal that will yield dividends.

Pack Creatures

Even for the lone wolf personality, human beings are inherently social creatures.  The shyest lone wolf likes to talk or listen to someone.  The television, music, social media feeds or city background may provide the necessary sound of other human beings, but too much isolation, and too little live interaction, and a person can feel listless, purposeless, or hungry for human interaction.  We like the company of others, and we hope they like our company too.

Socializing also comes with a host of benefits:

  • Combating depression
  • Building support networks
  • Learning from others
  • Working together more smoothly and efficiently
  • Enjoying our work more
  • Forming connections that can lead to promotion or success

Given so many benefits, both personally and professionally, there’s ample reason to get your social on at the office.

So here’s how.

Let’s do Lunch

If you work a typical 8 to 5 American schedule, lunch will likely land somewhere in the middle.  Often, most or all of your company will get lunch at the same time.  So, why not make lunch a social hour?  If others tend to bring their own lunch, bring yours and sit together.  Ask a coworker out to lunch.  Avoid that awkward, “Is this a date?” situation, or appearing like you are sucking-up to the boss you invite, by inviting a couple of people at once.  Four is a great number for everyone to have someone to talk to (no odd man out!), and will clearly not look like a lunch double-date, so long as it’s not all a group of singles.

If you are feeling very brave, invite yourself to lunch with a group you see headed out with a friendly, “Hey, can I come too?”

Start an Activity

Deepen office connections with an activity outside of work.  Invite the whole office to go to the same movie theater on the same night and catch a movie–which you can also extend with late-night appetizers nearby afterward. 

Or start a regular activity, such as a quarterly community service day, a bi-monthly hiking/biking/outdoor activity, or a work team in the annual city run.  “A team that sweats together stays together,” they say.

Mix it Up

One of the best things that can come of workplace socialization is a sense of connectedness and teamwork.  One of the worst things that can occur is a sense of cliquishness.  So avoid the clique-trap by mixing it up.  Challenge your own comfort zone and sit somewhere else in the cafeteria.  Invite different people to lunch.  Stand around the water cooler at a different time.

You don’t need to be an extrovert to pull off these sorts of social interactions at the office, but it may require an extra dose of bravery.  If it feels awkward or flat, just try again (and keep in mind that others might experience awkwardness as well, even the confident-seeming type).

It can be a challenge to mix up social groups, but you may just find another lone wolf and help everyone feel part of the pack.

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Understanding Adolescence

Essena’s experience at twelve is not unique. The age of adolescence has always been a difficult and awkward time. It’s practically the right of passage into puberty to feel insecure about your self-esteem and body image even without the presence of selfies and social media.

to be social

As hormones rage, a young person’s separation from childhood creates a loss of contentment with any association of being looked at as a child. They don’t quite know who they are and aren’t comfortable with their past interests they worry could be seen as childish. They strive to be valued and respected in new ways by their peers and adults.

But social media presents new challenges to the adolescent experience unlike any other. As Essena reveals in her video, the real problem became clearer and clearer to her as she struggled to find happiness: “It was never enough. I let myself be defined by something that is so not real.”

Social Media and Social Comparison

Social media addiction has become an issue for the twenty-first century teenager. Teens feel pressure to be constantly available and respond 24/7 to their social media accounts. A huge shift over the past few years is due to a matter of access. With cell phones and new apps each year, like Snapchat, teens feel greater pressure to constantly update their followers.

to be social

Users between the ages of 15 to 19 spend at least 3 hours a day on average on social media. That’s on average one hour more than twenty-something millennials.

What does all that time consist of? Besides selfies and sharing cat videos, social media provides an outlet for social comparison. Social comparison means comparing the aspects of our lives—including the disappointments—with our peers’ “highlight reels.”

This limited view of our peers’ accomplishments against our own monotony can create a misperception to our self-worth and success. It causes problems not just for teens, but for everybody.

A study in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found that social comparison has been the mediating factor between Facebook and depressive symptoms. “It doesn’t mean Facebook causes depression, but that depressed feelings and lots of time on Facebook and comparing oneself to others tend to go hand in hand,” said study author and doctoral candidate Mai-Ly Steers.

This natural tendency to compare ourselves to others is amplified with websites like Facebook, where the only activity is to view and share updates with your friends’ lives.

The Pressure to be Social

Essena claims the lifestyle she had attained seemed perfect, but she was actually “miserable.” Everyone on social media, according to Essena, is miserable. While this is a bold generalization, increased depressive symptoms and anxiety have proven to be another side effect of social media. Especially with teens, these symptoms seem to be worse when users log on at night.

Teens feel a need to be constantly available, leading to anxiety, depression, and poor sleep quality. The fact is many teens place a high emotional investment on their social media presence.

Essena O’Neill is not the first star to dramatically quit social media. In 2009, Miley Cyrus posted a video on Youtube on why she was deleting her Twitter account. She was sixteen at the time. In the video, she rap/sings: “The reasons are simple. I started tweeting about pimples. I stopped living for moments and started living for people.”

to be social

A few years later, she returned—partly due to a music tour she was promoting and her own admission that she wanted to follow Charlie Sheen.

With her return, it became obvious to the media that it would be difficult for anyone to truly quit social media. Not with how ingrained it has become in our businesses, friendships, and relationships.

Positive Aspects of Social Media

Overall, many have praised Essena’s message as positive, but some have responded with criticism. Since dramatically quitting social media, Essena has started a brand campaign not only revealing the secret anxieties of each of her Instagram posts—but also promoting causes she believes in like veganism.

This could be seen as hypocritical as she continues to use different forms of social media in new ways. She deleted her Youtube channel, yet created a Vimeo account to post new videos for her website. What it comes to it, and what perhaps Essena is still discovering, is that social media has become a necessary part of shaping your voice in society. Even when she renounces social media, she uses it in her new life focusing on happiness.

Another youtuber, Anna Russett, posted a reaction video shortly after Essena’s video went viral. Anna says “I am not fake. I am not miserable. Social media is wonderful for so many reasons. Social media is a space where people who are not normally made visible, can be made visible.”

to be social

Social media is both an industry and a public space that users can engage with for their benefit. We should not forget the potential opportunities provided by social media to connect, build, and maintain relationships.

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