5 steps to quality interactions.

# qualityI asked in my last post if the "instant win" short form world of social networks is paradoxically harming conversation despite us "connecting" with more people on a more frequent basis.

How can we redress the balance so that our interactions are less throw-away and more meaningful?

1. Downsize

Downsizing covers a multitude of sins and aims to increase the signal-to-noise ratio by targeting those things most relevant to you.

If using RSS feeds we should periodically filter our list to ensure that it is up to date and still providing us the value we require. Perhaps certain sites have changed their focus and no longer match our own interests.

The debate as to whether subscribing to RSS feeds is dead rolls on with many abandoning them in favour of curated news and social discovery. The assumption is that news provided by our social circle is more relevant as we hand-pick our circle according to our interests.

We all know, however, that we can collect 'friends' on a whim with whom we may actually have little in common. Many of these may not reciprocate so don't feel guilty about culling them from your list.

While we might like to keep on top of a range of topics we cannot hope to keep up quality interactions across too diverse a spread. It may, therefore, be prudent to choose those we are most interested in as our primary focus in order to devote more time to them without the additional distractions.

2. Choose your toolset

It may be fun to try every new service that comes along but we can't hope to maintain an effective presence on them all - the key is not to spread yourself too thin.

Select a few key services that give a good return and stick predominantly to those in order to better develop visibility and relationships in those places.

3. Be open to new ideas

It might seem contradictory to choosing your toolset but we should always set some time apart to see what's new, try something we've never used before. If it doesn't work out or offer what's needed then we need waste no more time on it. If, however, it fits our needs or workflow we can maybe swap it in for something else that is less effective.

We will never grow if we aren't willing to put out heads above the parapet once in a while. We learn by doing and our mistakes and missteps can often teach us the most valuable lessons.

4. Don't just hear, listen

There are three types of users on social networks: the deaf, the ignorant and the cognisant.

The deaf just shout into space and do not hear (or even acknowledge) others. The ignorant hear others but do not take heed of what they are saying. The cognisant, however, are truly mindful of the comments of others ensuring they fully understand.

To have quality interactions with our followers we need to ensure that we are that latter, the cognisant. Read, re-read, digest. Learn from others and from yourself never taking anything for granted.

5. Be human

To connect we must let our personality shine through. Sharing is important but being just be a 'retweet machine' with a feed full of nothing but links and re-shares of other people's content achieves nothing and doesn't enable anyone to get to know us.

Sharing without the context of our interests and reasons is almost worthless and just becomes a clone of any other news feed. We like the personal touch, we like to know 'why'. When there are thousands of people all vying for friend requests we need to be able to differentiate ourselves from the masses; there is only one you so show it to the world.

Image by aithom2