How to be a social media explorer

Here’s a list of some ways you can begin to explore social media–  or 13 tips for getting your social media mojo back :)

A bit of  background: In my last post I wrote about Keri Smith’s book How To Be An Explorer Of The World.”  I also suggested you read some of her tips and consider how they might also apply to your conversations, even those on Twitter. This is my attempt at providing some tips (based on Keri Smith’s list) on looking beyond the tools and discovering the amazing conversations, people and their ideas through social media.

1. Always be looking. (Notice the ground beneath your feet.)
Don’t just broadcast or consume information.  Pause and notice the things people are saying around you and take time to nurture relationships. There are some wonderful people out there.

2. Consider everything alive and animate.
Notice the many ways your connections express themselves. Enjoy being part of living, breathing and sometimes even abstract conversations. Animate your own conversations, blog posts and tweets through photos, music and video.

Image by Simon Lee

3. Everything is interesting. Look closer.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfBlUQguvyw]

4. Alter your course often.
In a recent post about the need to connect with all kinds of people, Stacey Monk from Epic Change wrote how societal change is“created by musicians, politicians, journalists, technologists and so many others”. Michele Martin has written some interesting thoughts about cultural connections and online homophily. Do you alter your course to discover and explore new conversations?

5. Observe for long durations (and short ones).
You can learn a lot, just by listening. Which conversations really grab you, inspire and motivate you?

6. Notice the stories going on around you.
Be amazed by the stories around you. Practice childlike fascination. If you pay attention you’ll notice some wonderful stories going on around you.

7. Notice patterns. Make connections.
Explore individual conversations, and notice patterns. Incredible things can happen when a group of people connect the dots.

8. Document your findings (field notes) in a variety of ways.
Take your observations one step further by interacting (commenting), sharing (eg a tweet or shared bookmark) or write a blog post to capture and explore those moments of inspiration.

9. Incorporate indeterminacy.
Keri Smith explains this concept in an interview with About Creativity. When you use social media, be ready to let your ideas take on a life of their own. Other people will interpret your idea in new ways, drawing upon different influences to express themselves. Embrace the unseen and prepare for the unexpected. Join in a collaborative creative blogging project or group Flickr challenge.

10. Observe movement.
Social media perpetuates a moving, creative dialogue. A song, leads to a mashup, leads to another mashup. Interpretation becomes open and serendipitous.

11. Create a personal dialogue with your environment. Talk to it.
Interact. Engage. Explore. Share your ideas. Be brave.

Image by FD

Image by FD

12. Trace things back to their origins.
If you appreciate a photo in a blog post, go to the original Flickr image, see if the creator has a blog, or a Twitter account where you can connect with them. Share your appreciation.  If you enjoy a quote, find the original source. If you’re inspired by a mashup, search for others.

13. Use all of the senses in your investigations.

  • Look (at imagery, fonts, avatars, white space).
  • Listen (to a tone of voice, a concept, a podcast).
  • Touch (interact – online and  face to face through conferences, Tweetups or even just for coffee!)
  • Taste (savour the moment, take time to pay attention and notice the details).
  • Smell (distinguish different approaches).

I’d be interested to hear what you think. How do you explore social media?