Don’t let social media get in the way of…

… having a life.

Pursuing your true calling, as opposed to a shadow calling (see Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield).

Meeting people.

Doing the important work. (Social media is beguiling. You think that you’ve done a lot – Tweets, Facebook shares, blogs and comments – but, in the end, you have little to show for your investment of time.)

Shipping something of value. (I’ve lamented for a while, particularly on LinkedIn, the fact that no one is interested in creating content of value, let alone specifically for LinkedIn. It can’t be that hard!)

Saying thank you. (When was the last time you sent a hand-written thank you card? I bought mine from House Industries

Your privacy. (Seriously, we don’t need to know so much.)

But most of all, exploring who you really are. (See above under ‘shadow calling’.)

To be clear, I’m not advocating a world without social media, although never forget it’s a choice. Rather, we should all question our raison d’être.

I know there are plenty of contra reasons for being online – hell, I’ve made a living from proselytising them – but not to the point where they take from life itself. If you must engage with social media, then see it as part of the bigger picture. Not to sell but to create art i.e. your best work. I know it’s possible to assimilate Tweets into a book or make a case for writing poetry via Twitter but it hardly makes for the greatest read.

If you need a few ideas where next for social media, then consider these:

1. Writing a series of structured blog posts that you could bring together at the end of the year (with some subtle editing) into a book;

2. Using your influence online to produce a radio or TV show e.g. the Goodlife project;

3. Getting together with your key influencers, videoing the session and posting it on YouTube. You could try Vine as a trailer format as long as you don’t give too much away;

4. Livestreaming an event or meet up;

5. Organising a regular meet up via Twitter and creating a # that stands for more than a lot of grandstanding;

6. Collaborating on writing a book with your key influencers using social media only at the end of the process to promote the work (see Editorially, Basecamp and Todoist for the tools); and

7. If you know there is a lacuna in your knowledge, use your network to help you. You could start with Twitter or better still you could post up a series of blogs and invite comments. I often found, even for those serious blogs that attract a lot of self-promotion, that I learn more from the comments than the blog post itself.

7A. Sorry, one last idea. You could try using Soundcloud or Audioboo to conduct a Q&A with someone of interest or interesting and share it privately (Soundcloud only) to your network.

7B. Not quite. You could do something similar using a Hangout.

As you can see these are just a short selection of positive things you could do. All of them add value to you and your audience. Posting endless Tweets, resharing posts and self-promoting have, I’m afraid, worn very thin.

For what it’s worth I still believe social media is bigger than social media. In my case, it has literally changed my perspective on the world, albeit my new way of seeing already existed but was buried beneath years of conditioning.

I don’t think I will ever be done with social media, but I will continue to question where it fits into my life.

Not that I have any power to command you do anything, but you would be well to do so as well.

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