Reclaiming My Social Media

As a rabbi and Jewish educational leader, I have used social media, including Facebook and Twitter, extensively. Sadly, in recent weeks there was an epidemic of the use of my social media in ways that I considered to be negative or insulting. We’re all had that happen:  someone posts an insult or an obscenity and we have to decide how to respond to the situation and to the individual.

Cleaning up my social media mess is becoming a bit like a mikvah immersion.  For a month, I am holding off my usual weekly routine of posting, and re-purifying and reclaiming my social media presence not only in reaction to a particular set of circumstances, but in a proactive way that will help me to lead that presence, both as an individual as well as professionally.

During the month, I’ve been renovating my Facebook and social media presence and creating, in effect, my own social media policy, so that my Facebook and Twitter presence reflects my values. The guidelines and day posts, which can be followed on my personal Facebook or on Twitter (@JewishConnectiv), with the hashtag #reclaimingmysocialmedia:

Social Media Cleanse

  1. Social media is social. Cleaning out people who watch but don’t share.
  2. There’s enough hatred in the world. Cleaning out people who consistently add more hatred, and deleting sarcastic comments.
  3. My social media is safe place for expression. Cleaning out anything or anyone who makes it unsafe.
  4. Done with narcissism. Cleaning out narcissists and limiting “selfies”.
  5. Respect. Fostering respect for one another on my social media.
  6. Humor. Adding humor and joy to my social media, and inviting others to do so.
  7. Music. Adding music that will make people smile or dance and inviting others to do so.
  8. Educating. Posting something that people will learn from. Making everyone a teacher and learner.
  9. Repairing the world. Adding something to social media that will make the world better.
  10. Adding passion. Inviting everyone to share their passions on my social media.
  11. Sharing something personal and inviting others to do so. Taking risks is part of social media.
  12. Setting limits. Prioritizing the 3 most important things to post daily, 5 comments I want to make to others and 10 things to “like” each day.
  13. Learning silence. Not every comment needs a response. Respecting people’s comments by letting them be.
  14. Exercising ownership. Nobody has an unlimited right to post or comment on my FB wall. Granting the privilege to those who are respectful and removing comments or people that aren’t.
  15. Reaching out to someone new. Adding a new contact regularly. You should try it, too.
  16. Looking backwards. Some past posts no longer reflect who I am today. Cleaning up and trashing what no longer fits.
  17. Stop using general posts when what I really need to do is to talk to one or two people about something. No sense in broadcasting what is really an issue that only involves a small number of folks.
  18. Posting something that doesn’t do anything for me but could really make a difference for someone else. Like a piece of wisdom or experience.
  19. Promoting someone else today. Maybe their business or career, or their value as a friend.
  20. Reducing use of my social media as free therapy for others. Being an online psychotherapist or relationship counselor does do them or me justice. Being a friend does.
  21. Letting go. I don’t watch to see who’s “unfriended” me. I figure anyone who does has a good reason and I respect that.
  22. I use Shabbat to turn off for a day. I encourage you to take a weekly social media fast.
  23. Setting a face-to-face or Skype or Hangout with someone I usually see only on social media. If the vast majority of your friendships are only on Facebook, it’s worth turning that around.
  24. Practicing humility. The insight I share on social media might be valuable. But considering the possibility that it isn’t.
  25. Stopping reading between the lines. A comment is a comment. If you think a comment needs exploration, ask. Most often, people say what they need to and that’s it.

Talmudic law speaks of our responsibility for any potential dangers that may lurk on property that belongs to us. Our online presence is no less our responsibility. I am neither the first nor the last to clean up his/her social media presence.  I have found inspiration in those who have practiced greater mindfulness in regulating their social media involvement. And I am honored to know that many of my Facebook friends and Twitter followers have found value in my campaign and have begun actions of their own to take greater charge of their social media activities.  In closing, I invite you to consider:

  • What actions do you take to protect your social media presence and to assure that it reflects you and your values?
  • How do you keep interactions (and the participants in those interactions) safe?
  • If you were writing your “ten commandments” for your social media presence, what would they be?

 

Rabbi Arnie Samlan is executive director of Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education in Miami, FL and founder of Jewish Connectivity, Inc.

10 for 2010: #2 UNFRIENDING and UNFOLLOWING

Anyone remember the Burger King campaign last year — defriend (or unfriend) 10 people on Facebook and we’ll give you a burger? Regardless of what you think of the campaign or Whoppers, their ad agency jumped on the beginning of a trend that is really coming to fruition in 2010. The Oxford English Dictionary even named “unfriend” a 2009 word of the year (along with “tweetup”).

As Facebook and Twitter have become so mainstream, and friending so casual, our rolls of friends and followers have grown extensive. Maybe too extensive. Just at that time when we’re trying to manage our precious time and sort through reams of content to find the gems, it is our own “friends” weighing us down. Dunbar proposed that any individual could really only have 150 stable social relationships at any given time. Others propose that with tools such as Facebook we can manage higher numbers. In a recent update, Facebook set the number of people to show up in your news feed to 250 (which you can change). While it may be true that our maximum number is far over Dunbar’s 150, many people are starting to approach their limit and are pruning their social network gardens.

There are two things you should be thinking about:

  1. How should I pare my friends and people I’m following to get the most bang for my social-media-hour-buck?
  2. How are other people making decisions about paring their lists, and how should I position myself to stay on the friends list of those I care about? (note: you may not care about all of them)

How you answer these questions will depend on your business, your brand, your audience, your goals, and how you have been using these tools. People want value (which can be information, insight, humor, etc.). People also want to be talked with, not talked at.

One of the challenges is that when you’ve mixed company in your friend or follower list, there’s not one clear value proposition. For example, family wants pics of your kids, college friends want to know what you’re reading, business colleagues want professional insights, customers/clients/members want meaty information and connection. You cannot please all of the people all of the time.

Some people have dealt with this by creating multiple profiles — in some cases with hard lines (members of the congregation can befriend a staff person here but not there), and in some cases much softer lines (e.g. I tweet about Jewish social media and innovation at @darimonline, and I tweet personally about kids, chickens, music and other things at @lisacolton) where you’re welcome to friend or follow in both places, but at least you know what you’re getting (or as the writer, what you’re giving) with greater specificity.

I predict that the next waves of functionality and privacy updates from Facebook and Twitter will offer greater control over sorting these groups (they’ve already begun), targeting content to this group or that, and being able to hide or categorize friends and followers with greater ease to create customized feeds (how cool would it be to login to Facebook at work and see only updates from professional colleagues, and get home and login to see updates only from friends and family?).

In the meantime, put these on your to-do list:

  1. Be educated about privacy and friend list categorization opportunities on Facebook. There’s more control there than you probably realize or use.
  2. Set up friend lists, and each time you accept a new friend, add them to a list. When you use your settings you’ll be able to count on knowing who’s getting what info. See a tutorial here.
  3. Be aware that the functionality, policies, and culture of these tools will continue to adapt and change, so adopt a nimble stance (modern “sea legs”) and keep educating yourself.
  4. Think about how you can talk with your community, not just talk at them. Experts suggest a ratio of 1:12 (or even 1:20) — for every one self-promoting post (“come to our young adults event Tues evening…”) you should add value 12 times. What value can you offer? What questions can you ask to tap into your community? What conversations are happening related to your work and how can you participate? And don’t forget to LISTEN.
  5. Discuss among staff how people are managing these issues. There may be creative ideas, and you may or may not want to have everyone on the same page and taking the same approach. Either way, staff should be aware of expectations as employees if they are engaging with members, prospects, board members or donors. You should consider drafting a social media policy or guidelines, or revisiting to existing policies. See info here from Wild Apricot and info here from Beth Kanter and sample policies here.

How are you identifying what your target audiences want to hear, learn and discuss? How are you thinking about what to post and/or tweet? Where are you adding value and growing your online community? How will you know if people and dropping out and why?