5 Things It’s OK to Do in Social Media in 2014 (or any year)

I always make New Years Resolutions. Always. Some of my 2013 resolutions included doing a TED Talk, launching a video series, and working to help make Giving Tuesday bigger and better than the first year. Though my personal involvement with TEDx and video production (which can't come soon enough) will have to wait until early 2014, I am most happy that I delivered on my Giving Tuesday pledge. Being a Giving Tuesday Ambassador is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life. Ever.
 
In 2014, I will continue doing many of the things that I know have contributed to my personal social media success, while also making necessary tweaks and enhancements along the way. I just recently crossed 90,000 tweets (on Christmas Day). It is a feat that I couldn't even conceive when I first joined Twitter in January of 2009. Lots of lessons along the way. Huge successes, stalled projects, and spectacular failures that have made me the person I am.
 
So let me tell you a few of the things I believe its ok to do in social media:
 
It's ok to Be Happy For Other People's Success – Seriously. It is. It will take nothing away from you by saying "congrats" or "continued success" to those whose stars are rising. If you're around social media long enough, you'll see lots of lists like 75 Must Follow People on Twitter or 50 Successful People Who Engage, and so on. My name rarely makes it into these kinds of big lists. But because I have been creating these lists on Huffington Post dating back to mid 2009, I completely understand how they can impact someone's career. When you see people you like and folks who support you on these lists (or doing well in general), why not encourage them? Who knows, that might be an opportunity to collaborate with them. Goodwill comes back to you ten-fold. I truly believe that.
 

It's ok to Share the Work of Those Who Don't Have Big Social Media Followings - What does this post, this post, and this post have in common? They're all posts that I retweeted in late 2013, and each person I retweeted had less than 900 followers at the time. One even had less than 100. I make sure to retweet at least one new person a day, and many times, its someone who doesn't have high numbers. When you're trying to genuinely connect and network with people, one's "follower count" should never be a barrier. Never! Great, high-performing content can also be found everywhere – even on the accounts of a social network's majority: typically folks with 2500 followers or less. 
 
It's ok to Express Gratitude to People Who Post Your Work - As I pointed out recently, it is my belief that gratitude is the number one social media best practice. Opportunities didn't just pop up in my lap. I worked hard for them, and many of them came from simply saying "thank you". Not just to a celebrity or someone with big social media numbers, but to anyone. You never know how connected someone is. As Iyanla Vanzant tweeted in early 2013: "If we want to keep the goodness flowing to us, we must never, ever forget to say 'thank you' for every little thing." …Hard to argue with that.
 
It's ok to Cross-Post - If you're trying to build engagement on Google Plus and you're strong on Twitter, why not post Google Plus links on Twitter? If you're rockin' Facebook and need a bigger Pinterest presence, then it makes sense to post Pinterest links on Facebook, right? Yes! And find ways to include LinkedIn, which is becoming more and more important as your online reputation becomes your resume. Just find out what social networks you're strongest on, and use them to build up the ones you're trying to breathe life into. Don't wait for that opportunity…seize it! Here is a helpful post.  
 
It's ok to Walk Your Own Path - You're going to hear so many theories about what it takes to be successful, valuable, and meaningful in social media. The truth is, there is no one set of principles, or magic formula that fits everyone. So test, test, and keep testing the approaches and methods that you're comfortable with. Don't be afraid to adopt what helps and empowers you, and discard what doesn't. It's your path…so blaze a trail!
 
Have a great 2014 everyone. Embrace. Empower. Educate. Expand. Enlighten. Let's do it.
 

How To Be An Effective Giving Tuesday Ambassador

 

When I was approached about being a Giving Tuesday Ambassador in Spring of 2013, I jumped at the opportunity. I love making a difference, and, helping people move from point great to point awesome. I remembered the first Giving Tuesday in 2012, and how involved Bill and Melinda Gates were, and I started thinking, "this clearly is something that can become a vehicle to connect every corner of the planet."

And our planet is big, and very diverse. I not only talk about diversity in speeches and presentations, and post about it in social media, but I practice it in my daily interactions. So it wasn't hard for me to connect that with the aims of the UN Foundation, in its digital outreach for Giving Tuesday to individuals, businesses, foundations, and charities around the world. Everyday I woke up determined, encouraged, and ready for a new adventure.

For an effective online promotion of Giving Tuesday on my personal social media channels – Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, and others – I used some of the framework of Michael Silverstein and Neil Fiske's Trading Up, one of my favorite books of the last decade. I took the "Conceptualize the Idea/Create a Prototype/Launch and Consistently Refine" approach they wrote about, and put it to good use on a daily basis.

As you decide what approach you will have for 2014, here are three things to consider when becoming a Giving Tuesday Ambassador: 
 
(1) Think Like there is No Box - Be willing to try new things, or do something a little different. For example, it would have been understandable for me to simply share and post Giving Tuesday links only on Tuesdays, but when you're helping to build a brand or a movement, you take full advantage of every day of the week. It is not uncommon to see the #GivingTuesday hashtag on my Twitter feed at different times of the day. I include it with quotes about giving and generosity, and put it in links about social good activities. So don't just think out of the box, so to speak. Think like there isn't one in the first place.

 
(2) Support other Ambassadors - One of the biggest trends in the social space over the past few years is "collaboration". The partnership between GivingTuesday.org and the UN Foundation is a great example of that. So when retweeting Giving Tuesday links, I don't just retweet the people I recognize and personally like. That's easy. What I do instead is share as many links as I can throughout the week from people I don't know, folks who were clearly trying to elevate the field of philanthropy. At the end of the day, we're all on the same team. When we work together, we shine together.
 
(3) Have Fun - What can be more fun than learning something everyday? The Giving Tuesday platform makes it possible. When I connected with that entrepreneur in Ireland, that student in South Africa, that educator in Mongolia, and that traveler in Peru, they all told me about what a joy it was to give back. And they are just four out of many people who either shared their story, or simply asked me what Giving Tuesday was, and how they too could get involved. Global connectivity and cultural exchange is big fun. I thoroughly enjoy it. And when we enjoy what we do, we do it better, right? Yes! So by all means, bring on the fun. 
 
After the record-breaking day of December 3rd, it is clear that Giving Tuesday is here to stay. It will likely be a permanent part of the social landscape, and, be a platform upon which inspired philanthropy and service can thrive like never before. I am excited about the possibilities and I am looking forward to helping it expand further.
 
Looking to be a Giving Tuesday Ambassador? Click here to get started.