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9 Tips to Get the Most Out of Social Media

9 Tips to Get the Most Out of Social Media

Get the Most Out of Social Media

    I recently had the opportunity to talk with social media expert Muhammad Saleem about social networking. For those of you new to the site, I interviewed Muhammad back in February on Lifehack Live.

    Muhammad is the one to watch in the social media sphere. He’s a top-ranked user on Digg, Propellr, Reddit, and other social news sites, he has almost 2000 followers on Twitter, and he blogs or contributes guest posts just about everywhere. He is jsut the person I wanted to talk to about making the most of social networking services like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

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    Although I wasn’t interviewing him for Lifehack, in the course of the conversation Muhammad gave a good number of tips on how best to approach and use social media sites. We talked for over an hour, but I’ve boiled his advice down to the following nine points.

    1. Permission

    Almost all social media sites, from Digg to Twitter, have some way for users to control who can and cannot reach them. These are minimal standards, though — all they do is open a channel. Don’t abuse people by trying to fake them out or overwhelming them with updates — they’ll just close the door entirely.

    2. Relevance

    Don’t add relationships willy-nilly. Limit your “friends” or “connections” or whatever they’re called on your favorite social media site to people who share at least some of the same interests as you. And be selective when sending out “shouts” or “DMs” or whatever you send — send updates to people for whom they are meaningful, not everyone you just happen to have some connection with.

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    3. Relationships

    It should go without saying that to make the best use of a social network, you have to network, but a lot of people seem to want to do an end-run around that. Building relationships starts with a friend request or invite  — it doesn’t end there. Get to know the people you are connected with. Answer their questions, send them a link or piece of information now and again, and read their profiles.

    4. Integrity

    Don’t be phony! Be yourself — it’s what your social network friends added you for. There are, of course, many ways to “game” just about every social media system, to get more diggs, to appear to have more followers, to get your posts Stumbled, and so on. But in the end, it’s an empty gain — people who follow you because you appear to be something you’re not will quickly un-follow you, people who end up at your site because you managed to get more votes on a post than you deserve will leave without reading, and all you’ll have is an empty number to show off.

    5. Focus

    Signing up for social networking sites and social news sites is easy, but unless you’re willing to put in some work, you won’t get much out of it. You need to keep your profile reasonably up-to-date, maintain at least a marginally active presence, and talk to other people now and again to make it work. If you have a hundred different profiles on a hundred different sites, you’ll soon get overwhelmed and none of them will get the attention they need to thrive. Pick a handful of services and sites to put a lot of energy into — or however many you have time to really commit to — and stay off the rest.

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    6. Diversify

    That said, don’t participate in too few sites, either. First of all, if you slip up and damage your reputation at one, you’ll have to start from scratch somewhere else. But more importantly, different sites have different strengths. LinkedIn is best for professional advance, MySpace for broadcasting your interests and creative work; Digg is traditionally better suited to news, especially technology and weird stuff, StumbleUpon to smaller niches.

    7. Personality

    Social networking is about connections between people, not profiles. Make use of the means for self-expression offered by each service — whether that’s the way you summarize stories for social news sites, or a blogging platform, or feeds integrated from your non-social network sites. Worry less about finding the perfect background or your 5 favorite songs and more about creating something people want to pay attention to.

    8. Giving

    You have to put into social networks in order to get out from them. This is basic human nature — anthropologists call it “reciprocity”. If you want recommendations on LinkedIn, start writing some — people will usually return the favor. If you want followers on Twitter, start following people — again, people will usually return the favor. Once you do something for someone, they will generally want to do something for you in return. But you have to take the lead.

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    9. Add Value

    This is the single most important thing to remember on any social networking site. Do whatever it takes to make your posts, your profile, your story submissions, or whatever the “currency” of the site it, as valuable as possible. You add value when you submit a link; you add more value when you include a really good description of the article; you add more value still when you explain why I would want to read it; and you add yet more value when you tell me what the author left out or how the information might be used.

    Social media sites can be great ways to promote a brand, promote your business, find clients, get jobs, find new employees, and build personal relationships, but they don’t “just work”. They’re tools, not machines — you have to use them, not put in some inputs and wait for them to do their magic. Keep the 9 principles above in mind, and you’ll find that people start responding pretty quick — after all, they’re there for the same reason you are, to find people whose interests mesh with their own.

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    Last Updated on January 15, 2021

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

    Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

    Posture

    First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

    • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
    • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
    • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
    • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

    All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

    Facial Expressions

    Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

    • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
    • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
    • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

    If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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    1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

    A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

    The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

    This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

    2. Relax Your Face

    New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

    The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

    To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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    3. Improve Your Eye Contact

    Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

    The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

    To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

    3. Smile More

    There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

    Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

    4. Hand Gestures

    Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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    It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

    5. Enhance Your Handshake

    In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

    “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

    It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

    6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

    As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

    Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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    Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

    Final Takeaways

    Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

    If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

    More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

    Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

    Reference

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