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Lately I've been paying closer attention to how people use social media. Not just their usage of the tools, but how they use the tools to interact with other people.

What I'm noticing, and surprisingly this comes from the so-called 'experts' as well, is that many people can be decidedly anti-social in the way they use social media. I've seen company representatives get snippy and angry if they are challenged even mildly in blog comments. People on Twitter that speak in statements, that actually discourages interaction. Of course there's always no shortage of people that promote themselves and their companies, but never anyone else.
I guess the lesson here is, the best hammer in the world won't make you a better carpenter, if you don't know how to use it.
Here's some ways I've learned to be more social with social media:
1 - Promote other people. All it does is make others more likely to promote you, and want to interact with you. Can seem completely counter intuitive to companies that want to use social media to 'get their message out there', but it works. Every morning I spend 1-2 hours reading feeds and links to interesting articles. These get RTed like crazy on Twitter, and what happens when I link to one of my posts? That's right, it gets RTed even more because more people are following me because I promote interesting articles and posts.
2 - Watch your language. I don't mean what you say, but HOW you say it. How you interact with others greatly determines if and how they will respond. If you speak in statements, that shuts down communication. It comes across to others as 'I am right, there's no need to discuss this further'. If your tone is 'here's what I think', then that invites others to share their opinions.
3 - Show people that you value their opinions. Just as I was writing this post, I noticed this tweet flash up from Chris Brogan. He said 'Your responses were better than my idea. Thank you.' Great example of empowering people to interact with you. From my experience, the room is ALWAYS smarter than I am, so anything I can do to encourage interaction with everyone else, means I am going to learn something.

4 - Show people that you care
. Here's a Twitter-tip. I now follow well over 3,000 people, and I honestly can only interact regularly with a fraction of that number. So there's a lot of people I follow that I rarely, if ever, tweet with. But I want to let these people know that I appreciate them and am paying attention to them. One thing I do is if I see someone I rarely tweet with mention that they got a new job, or a new car, or got married, etc, I will send them a quick tweet congratulating them. Doesn't take 5 secs, but it quickly let's them know that I'm watching and care enough to congratulate them.
5 - Say 'thank you' early and often. It matters. This isn't rocket science, it's social media.
What do you think? Are you seeing the same things I am, are you noticing how people use social media in some unsocial ways? Do you have more tips you can share on being social with social media? What works for you?

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image of Mack Collier

Mack Collier is a social-media strategist based in Alabama. He helps companies build programs and initiatives that let them better connect with their customers and advocates. His podcast, The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show, discusses ways that brands can turn customers into fans. His first book, Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans, was published in April 2013 by McGraw-Hill.

Twitter: @MackCollier

LinkedIn: Mack Collier