How Social Media is a Lot Like Dating

This is a guest post by Shannon Evans Suetos.

Social media, like many things in life, is about relationships. If you don’t build a great relationship (online or offline), you won’t accomplish much. That said, how is social media like dating? You can apply “proper dating etiquette” to just about every aspect of social media.

Don’t Just Talk About Yourself

Ever been on a first date and realize you couldn’t get one word in? I think most of us have. Even if you started the conversation, some people can always make it about them. It’s not fun on a date, and it certainly isn’t fun to listen to someone on Twitter only talk about themselves.

This is where many social media newbies can miss the boat. Using Twitter and Facebook to promote a blog post is great, but make sure to mix it up with other news and topics as well. Using social media as a tool to position yourself or company as an expert is how you are going to gain your followers’ trust.

Tweet industry news as well as your company’s current events. It’s okay to not talk about yourself — your followers will thank you. You might even get a re-tweet or share for doing so.

Relationships Take Time

When you start dating someone, it’s fun and exciting. Once the honeymoon phase is over, this is when you really see how you two deal with each other. Sometimes it works, and other times it becomes a complete disaster.

Have you ever followed someone who you thought was a great marketer, PR pro, or other industry “expert,” only to find out they may not be the person you thought? Relationships take time and need nurturing. Sometimes someone who seems really awesome turns out to be a jerk — in dating and in social media.

Remember to take your time and really build up your online community. It takes awhile to get followers who engage with you. It’s not a numbers game, it’s a matter of finding people who want to talk to you and find you interesting as you find them. That is when the real engagement happens.

Don’t Overdo It

Have you ever gone on a date and then as soon as you get home, your date calls you? Then in the morning, you get another call or text, and so on and so on. If you don’t have anything important to say, don’t say it. You don’t want to annoy the people in your Twitter stream or Facebook news feed.

If you talk nonsense most of the day, how do you expect anyone to filter out the important updates? Make sure whatever you are sharing is compelling. It doesn’t have to be the great American novel you’re sharing, but make sure your followers will find value in it.

Don’t Under Do It

On that same note, make sure you aren’t waiting a week before calling your date back. Humans are creatures of habit, so make sure you update on a constant basis. This doesn’t mean tweet every ten minutes, but make sure you’re online around the same time everyday. Eventually, your followers will know when to expect your updates and even start looking forward to them. Don’t disappoint them by only updating here and there.

Be Yourself

I know on a first date, I’m going to make sure I look my best (who doesn’t?), but as time goes by, you start to let the “real you” shine through. I’m not saying I look like a bag lady everyday, but I also don’t dress to the nines either. When I first start dating someone, I try and be myself. If not, who is this person think they are dating? I don’t
want to give them the wrong impression.

This is the same in social media. You don’t want to be giving updates on one subject when you are really an expert in another area. Trying to be someone you aren’t is exhausting and misleading to your followers. Be up front with who you are and what you do. If you tweet for your company or any public figure, let your followers know there is more than one person running the account.

President Obama is a great example of this. Obviously, the President of the United States doesn’t have time to update his Twitter account on a regular basis, but when he does, he signs his tweets “BO”. This lets all of us who follow him know when he is actually tweeting.

It’s OK to be Funny

When you are new to social media, you sometimes don’t know what to say. Or better yet, what not to say. You can still be funny and be professional at the same time. The same is in dating. There is a difference between being funny and being annoying. There is a fine line, but you’re smart and can figure it out.

Don’t Diss Anyone

Who wants to be on a date with someone who only talks negatively about someone or multiple people? I know I sure don’t. Negativity is a downer wherever you are— in a bar or on Twitter. So just don’t do it.

It’s okay to like another person’s blog or article. Going back to my point of not just talking about yourself, it’s okay to retweet an industry colleague’s blog post. This can
actually help your relationship with that person, and you probably will get a retweet of your own when you share a blog post.

Dating is difficult. It’s a lot of give and take, and until you are comfortable with someone, it’s usually awkward. The same can be said for social media. When you first start a Twitter account, you probably are going to feel like you are talking to no one. Give it some time, remember these tips and you should end up creating a great community of followers.

Do you think dating is a lot like social media? If so, let me know what I missed in the comments below.

Shannon Evans Suetos is an online marketer living in San Diego, and the owner of What’s Your Two Cents? WYTC is a blog dedicated to reporting the latest trending news topics to spark a conversation among readers. You can also follow Shannon on Twitter @ShannonEvansSM.

20 Comments

  • Tara Alemany says:

    Great post, Shannon! I often tell new Twitter users to think of it in the context of going to a dinner party with people you’ve never met before. When you first arrive, get a feel for the room. Don’t be a wallflower and stand in the corner, but figure out who you want to talk with, join that person or group, listen to what they’re already discussing, and then begin engaging. Show these new people your real personality, without being a prima donna and hijacking the conversation.

    • Shannon Evans Suetos says:

      Hi Tara,

      Glad you enjoyed the post! I’ve heard others talk about a dinner party as well. I think it’s great to try and put newbies to Twitter in the context of scenarios they already know. :)

  • Sean says:

    This is a great post that everyone can relate to. One thing you should have included, and you touched upon it, is the period you go through where you start to reconsider your involvement with this person. Are they really all they’re cracked up to be? Are they really worth your time? Should you just chuck it all and start from scratch?

    Or maybe I’m a commitment phobe? Probably not. I’ve been married for 21 years. I just haven’t dated in a LONG time.

    • Shannon Evans Suetos says:

      Sean, great points! I agree 100%. I wanted to include so much more, but I didn’t want to write a book ;) Glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Shannon, this is an awesome post! You hit the nail right on the head with most of your points. We all have a hard time at first finding our “social media rhythm,” but this will definitely make it easier for those trying to get the hang of it.

    @Sean – I think that’s a great point too. I think we all get a bit intimidated at first – but we all seem to persevere!

    • Shannon Evans Suetos says:

      Hi Ali,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. When we first start out in social media I think we all feel like we are talking to ourselves (at least I did lol). Finding our “rhythm” takes time, but it pays off!

  • Brady Lewis says:

    Great post. I think it’s really hard for people new to the scene to find that correct mix of personality and professionalism. It’s good to be engaging and real, but you definitely have to use common sense. It’s very hard to acquire followers, but it’s extremely easy to lose them.

  • Love it! I could totally relate to the first time I used Twitter. “is anyone out there” =) I would love to share! Thanks!!

  • jason walker says:

    Very funny and very informative, I love analogies – makes everything clearer with a bit of humour.

    Mind you, you did miss out “Don’t get too upset if it doesn’t work! There’s plenty more fish in the sea.”

  • Tara Woodbury says:

    I really enjoyed this article. Hope to see more like them on Social Moms! Navigating Social Media can be tough and there are a lot of people telling you “this is how it’s done”. But your article makes perfect sense!

  • Great analogy, Shannon! I think the “don’t just talk about yourself” holds particularly true on Twitter. Someone who is totally into themselves and doesn’t make the effort to connect, engage, and really converse isn’t someone I’d want to follow on Twitter, let alone sit through an entire dinner with!

  • Molly says:

    I think all of your tips were wonderful. And very easy to understand the do’s and don’ts of Twitter. Currently, I’m taking a social media class and in the reading there was a reference that reminded me of your tips. The example was to picture going to a conference and meeting new people. While trying to network with these people you wouldn’t walk up to a small group of people and start rattling off all the facts about you. The people would think you were weird and probably walk away. Instead, you would want to walk up to the small group and engage in the conversation and add something of value to the conversation. From this you will become part of the group and can continue to network that would eventually lead to more personal facts.

  • Lusine says:

    “Don’t miss anyone” does not belog to datign :D. I want to be with one and only one :DD

    Overall, enjoyed the whole reading. Thanks, Tamar!

  • Lusine says:

    Yeah, that’s right, didn’t notice.
    :D
    Thank you! Shannon.

  • Adam Singer says:

    LOL – I don’t agree. I’m pretty good at social marketing. I #fail at dating, so this analogy didn’t work for me. The “how social media marketing is like RTS games” analogy I made a few months ago worked better. Oh, wait, that’s why I fail at dating ;)

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