Have you noticed that many people seem to think everyone else is evil? A very quick scan of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any number of social media platforms can bring some disturbing statements. As you might expect, religion and politics usually brings out the nastiest in people. Most people have well-established viewpoints and are passionate about them. When an opposing viewpoint is brought out, the responses can be quick, decisive and direct – and often very mean. Also, it’s not just religion and politics. Sports can be just as intense. Get an Alabama Crimson Tide fan and an Auburn Tigers fan in the same space and then run for cover!

What am I trying to say when I say it can be passionate and mean?

Far too often, when someone expresses a viewpoint different from our own, we lash out with insults. “You’re an idiot” or “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard” or profane language can come out.

It does not have to be this way.

Social media can – and should – be used for good things. We can use social media to find common interests, understand differences, and conduct business.

Find common interests. I like to find common interests on social media. I follow lots of Cleveland Indians baseball fans on Twitter. That’s my team, and it’s fun to be part of online communities with other people that want this 71-year wait for a Tribe World Series win to end! I have my Virtual Assistant business, and one of the services I offer is social media support. This is why I am really taking notice these days of how people act online. Networking with other VAs and those who offer services to VAs has helped me a great deal. I left my corporate job as an administrative assistant early last year. I still network with other admins in the corporate world on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Yes, I do network with people who have similar political and religious beliefs to mine, but there are so many ways to find common ground with people.

Understand differences. Although we rarely admit it out loud, most of us are quite convinced that “I have all the answers.” We develop our values and beliefs early in life, and the older we get, the more entrenched we get. That doesn’t mean we have to dismiss or demonize those who think differently. Some of the Cleveland Indians fans I have found on Twitter have very different political views than I do. I listen to them. I read their tweets and Facebook posts. Occasionally I ask questions. I want to understand why they believe the way they do. There is no requirement to come to 100% agreement on every topic. The more views you are exposed to, the better you can interact with people. For example, I’m a dog person, and I hate cats. But there are an awful lot of “cat people” out there. People I already know well may hear a cat joke now and then, but people I don’t know well, I try to keep the cat jokes to a minimum until I know them well. I listen to “cat people” and try to figure out the attraction. (I’ll admit, with cats, I’m still working on it. 😊)

Conduct business. There’s a lot of people already doing this; social media marketing is its own industry now and most businesses need it to help with their marketing. The number of people running their own home-based business continues to grow rapidly. The online world offers many opportunities to grow businesses. I used social media to find someone to assemble some new furniture I purchased. This is a prime example of why a business needs to be using these social media channels – your customers are.  LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are platforms where you can find almost any service you need. And of course, I want people to see me and take advantage of my services in my own business.

Social media is like any other tool – it can be used for all kinds of purposes. Rather than letting the bad forces be in control, let’s use it for good purposes. Find common interests, appreciate differences, and conduct business, and use social media for good.

Is managing social media a priority for your business? Are you struggling to make the time to manage it? Do you need some good content for your social media channels and website? Contact us and let’s make you one of the positive and prductive contributors on social media.

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