By Amy Guth and Scott Kleinberg, Tribune Newspapers
January 3, 2013
As we step into 2013, it's time to make resolutions. Losing weight, more vacations — stuff like that.
But what about social media resolutions? If you haven't made any, here are a few places to start. And the best part? They're easy so you're less tempted to break them.
1. Resolve to check and update your privacy settings.
Ugh. For many of us, privacy settings are like the dentist — we want to get it over with as fast as possible and not go back. And like your teeth, they're important. Start on Facebook, where settings have changed recently, and work your way over to Twitter, Google+ and all your other active platforms. Set aside 30 minutes to really dig through all the menus. Once you are caught up, it will be easier to make updates throughout the year.
2. Resolve to tweet shorter.
In February, Twitter is going to change the way its URL shortener works. That means shortened links will contain two more characters, and that means two less characters to use for a tweet. But shorter tweets are often the most shared, so this is a good time to force yourself to tweet shorter. Set your goal to never exceed 120 characters. Once you get used to it, you won't even remember there's room for 20 more.
3. Resolve to completely fill out profiles on all your accounts.
This is important for many reasons, from SEO to just making sure people know who you are and why they should follow you. And here's a bonus tip for your Twitter profile: The initial words are the most important as far as Google is concerned, so start your profile with the most important key words, never with "Hi, my name is."
4. Resolve to sign up for one new network/platform and grow your influence.
If you love photography and already use Instagram, consider signing up for 500px. If you want to do more with video, download YouTube's new Capture app for instant uploads to your social networks. Create a schedule, say a post a week, and stick to it 52 times.
5. Resolve to lose weight ... on social media.
Having a large number of Twitter followers is only an achievement if you know who those people are. Chances are you don't. Use a tool such as SocialBro to identify the bots and accounts that haven't tweeted in a year and shed a few pounds. When your followers to following ratio is in check, you'll feel good.
6. Resolve to be well-mannered.
It's easy (and far too common) to fire off a tweet or status update in the spirit of snark. So common is this practice, that "snarky" seems like a default setting these days. You set the tone of most of your online conversations, so lead with civility and kindness, remembering there is a human being on the other side of your exchange. Often, asking a question first can also help prevent a "ready, fire, aim" approach.
7. Resolve to follow the "rule of thirds."
Don't forget that the "social" part of social media is what makes it work. Nobody wants to follow an account that is all "me, me, me!" While it's important to share your news with your online communities, there is a recipe that can help keep things balanced: one third of the time, share and promote your news; one third of the time, share news related to your area of expertise or interests, but that originates from someone or somewhere else; and the last third of the time, be social — ask and answer questions, reshare interesting things posted by others, comment and interact.
8. Resolve to participate in a Twitter chat.
Twitter chats are a great way to meet other people online that share an interest in toics you want to discuss. So, find a Twitter chat, and participate at the designated time by following the conversation, asking questions of the chat hosts and retweeting useful information shared by others during the chat.
9. Resolve to avoid the word "guru" as connected to social media. Especially in your own twitter bio.
It started innocently, to be sure, but somewhere along the way, "guru" became a common way to identify heavy users of social media. To self-declare "guru" status is a bit like declaring one's beauty or intellectual prowess: there might be some truth there, but it's just not that cool to say it about yourself.
10. Resolve to join Google+ (and stop saying it's like Facebook).
In truth, even filling out your Google+ profile is a powerful step to help claim your territory in search engines. So claim what's rightfully yours.
11. Resolve to make sure that all websites and blogs under your control are responsive.
Mobile and connected device usage is growing at a fast rate, so it's important that the websites and blogs you maintain are ready.
12. Resolve to activate your Facebook "Subscribers" feature.
Activating your Facebook "Subscribers" is but one simple way to maintain a more public version (to use for professional purposes, for example) of your Facebook page, while keeping a more private version all in one place.
Share your social media resolutions or questions by tweeting them to @ScottKleinberg or @AmyGuth. We might select yours to discuss in a future column.
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