The Invisible Threads of Social Media

Image Credit: Pablo by Buffer

I work for Weaving Influence, so the idea of “threads” and weaving them together to create a cohesive whole is inherent to what I do every day.

Our goal is influence, so we have to be mindful at every step along the way of the threads we choose, the patterns we follow, and the way we tailor the final product.

When I added Periscope to my repertoire, I began thinking about the type of perceived familiarity social media creates. With Periscope, you see people getting ready for work, putting on their makeup, cooking dinner… it’s almost like being with them in person!

For many people seeking to establish themselves as a brand, this is exactly what they want to do: create the feeling between the viewer and themselves that they share commonalities and could, in fact, comfortably chat over coffee.

If you are working on establishing your brand, allow me to suggest a particular consideration as you choose which threads you weave and how you weave them, based on a bit of experience gained in seven years of being an avid social media user.

THE WHOLE CLOTH OF EXPECTATIONS

There will be times when you (and your growing brand) want desperately to interact with your followers. Your fingers will fly to respond to a tweet. You’ll heavily research the answer to a Facebook question. You’ll invest all of yourself into being what they want.

The challenge lies down the road, when your brand is bigger and more well-known, and the demands you face are heavier.

There may come a time when the “there is only one of me and there are so many of you” issue will threaten to rip out some of the beautiful social media stitches you have sewn.

STITCHING TOGETHER A PLAN

There may be times when the success you’ve had creating the warm and fuzzy “we’re friends” feeling butts right up against your needs for security or personal boundaries, or simply your need to allocate the ever-diminishing supply of time.

I was inspired to write this post by two incidents where people I felt quite close to, due to a deep and intense social media history, spoke publicly about their boundaries. The problem was: these boundaries did not exist during the preceding years of warm and fuzzy relationship-building (or if they did, I was not aware!).

In one case, someone I had approached about a coffee get-together while in her city said (on Periscope, which didn’t exist back when we became acquainted), “I never get together with followers who come to my city unless they can do something for me and my business.” In another case, a blogger I felt deeply connected with — enough to friend on Facebook — said via a teleconference, “People ask to be my friend on Facebook and I’m not prepared for that kind of exposure.” As you may have guessed by now, I was one of those Facebook friend-ers!

Three considerations come to mind:

  • Social media will evolve, and you may find yourself on a new channel, sharing old sentiments that come off differently than you intend.
  • Balancing the sentiment of “we could be friends!” with “we are strangers to one another who have not established a trust or intimacy level” is a delicate thing.
  • I suspect these two individuals may actually share a fear of mine: that they’re not nearly as compelling in real life as they seem to be online! There’s a certain safety in being behind a screen or keyboard, and in-person interactions can threaten to strip away all of those protective barriers in an instant.

Connections are a precious commodity. If you create a warm, welcoming feel, you need to have a plan for how you are going to erect and maintain your personal boundaries without alienating the very people who are helping you grow your brand.

Friedrich Nietsche said, “Invisible threads are the strongest ties.” As you grow your online presence, keep in mind the invisible threads in addition to the visible ones — they may be the ones that keep your social media fabric from deteriorating into tatters.

A version of this post was previously published at Weaving Influence as The Invisible Threads of Social Media.

Like what you read? Give Paula Kiger a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.