Like, share, follow, and retweet with purpose

Social media whiz offers expert guidelines for getting the most out of online networking. Photo courtesy of Stock Xchng.

Social media whiz offers expert guidelines for getting the most out of online networking. Photo courtesy of Stock Xchng.

Everything we do has a purpose. Not having a purpose is in itself a purpose, by which we choose what to do, what to say, and how to go about purposelessness. A purpose is the difference between studying for an exam and watching countless reruns of Criminal Minds.

If you are at BCIT, it is highly unlikely you do not have a proper purpose, because either you prepared yourself well before orientation, or your professors have done 99 per cent of the transmogrification for you. Either way, a purpose helps put each situation in perspective and keeps you motivated and driven to achieve.

With purposes in mind, I come to the purpose of this article, which is to cover a topic that I have grown intensely passionate about: using Twitter as an extension of your LinkedIn profile. Yes, it can be done. No, it is not too late to make the cute blue bird your friend.

Meet Vala Afshar, the Chief Customer Officer and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Enterasys Networks in Salem, New Hampshire. He was recently named one of the leading influencers in the areas of Technology and Marketing by Appinions, earning the eleventh spot on the list amongst executives from Adobe, AT&T, DreamWorks, Sony, and Starbucks.

The ranking evaluated marketing executives based on their social outlook and leadership on topics such as big data, the evolving role of the CMO, mobile strategy, and social media.

Vala is always on top of the game, learning as much as possible about the changing landscape of social media and offering practical solutions for how to get the most from your presence online. As CMO, Vala has the opportunity to connect with many social executives and has found that social media played an important role in building and maintaining those relationships.

“The beauty of Twitter is that it is the ultimate listening and learning platform,” Vala wrote in an InformationWeek article. “If you follow a few considered practices, Twitter also becomes the ultimate connection platform, linking you with other like-minded, smart and kind individuals who volunteer their time to teach and be taught.”

With the knowledge and experience he has gathered, Vala has a few simple guidelines that can prove useful. Three stood out to me:

Just be you: According to Vala, being yourself is the key to a rewarding experience, especially when the Internet provides people with ample opportunities to be who they are not: “Authentic engagement thrives on social media. It is an online conversation, not a broadcast. So, if you wouldn’t rattle off “marketing speak” in a face-to-face conversation with a friend, then don’t tweet it.”

Think quality and engagement, not quantity: Vala suggests you find common topics, whether it is economy or fashion, and interact with those who share the same views and engage on a similar, genuine front: “Don’t get caught up in obsessing about the number of followers you have or the number of times you tweet each day. Instead, obsess about quality engagement, and your following will follow.”

Listen and respond: Vala explains that it is a lot easier to quantify one’s listening skills in an online world versus the ‘real world’: “Every comment you respond to, retweet you send, or question you answer is a structured form of practice for one of the most important skills a person can have online and off: listening.”

If you want to taste success on the social front like Vala, he recommends all of us to be S.O.C.I.A.L.: Sincere, Open, Collaborative, Interested, Authentic, Likeable.

Think about it: we all use social media simply because it is there. The true payoff is knowing why and what we want to take away from the experience, while utilizing the expertise of people like Vala to complement those goals. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn connect you to people with shared views, likes, thoughts, and goals. By utilizing the opportunities that lie within each ‘like’ and retweet, you can start enjoying social media for its practicality, as opposed to its mere existence as another avenue for, well, no reason in particular.