And when we interact with people, we learn a lot.
My interactions on Facebook in particular have taught me a few things about the difference between merely updating my status with my vacation plans, and posting what I call courageous content.
Here are six basic lessons I’ve gleaned from Facebook comments and messages.
1. You get some love.
When you publish courageous content, it’s as though people were subconsciously waiting to hear from you.
You might get the sense that you’ve finally said the words they’ve always wanted to say but were too afraid or just didn’t know how to articulate.
Perhaps they have said the same thing before and are just so relieved to discover someone else who understands where they’re coming from.
People open up and tell you stories about their childhood and their parents, their fears and their dreams, and it’s obvious that they want to get something off their chests.
Your courageous content opens the gate for them.
You’ll get loads of thanks and praise and more thanks.
Savor those moments. Maybe even take screenshots of it all and keep an encouragement file on your desktop.
Because just as you get some love . . .
2. You get some hate.
When you reach the core of the Earth, things get heated.
By its very nature, courageous content elicits strong feelings.
Not all of them are positive.
It doesn’t even matter if your content is overtly controversial or not.
Don’t assume that the only people who get hate comments are the ones who are trying to pick a fight.
Anything you publish could potentially get under people’s skin and drive them to leave angry comments on your wall. Anything.
But that’s part of what makes the content so courageous–you’re willing to face the insults, boldly holding up your testament before the mob.
When I find myself getting down about the haters, I think of contemporary success stories like Oprah, Obama, and Beyonce. These people have billions of adoring fans, but for every person who loves them, there’s one or two who can’t stand them.
Love and hate are the yin and yang of living a public life. Embrace it.
If you let the fear of hate keep you from doing what you most want to do, then you’ve just surrendered your life to the people who least deserve it.
3. Courageous Content reveals who your real “friends” are.
Really, Facebook taught me the importance of having a Facebook page, rather than just using my personal profile to promote my work.
My personal profile is filled with “friends” who know me, but don’t necessarily fit into my target audience. Therefore, my content isn’t always meant for them.
When I post on my professional page, however, I’m targeting people who might actually be happy to discover what I post.
I’ve learned the hard way that personal and professional don’t always mix.
So, if you cherish the Facebook friendships on your personal profile, create a separate page for publishing all of that courageous content you’re creating.
I didn’t separate the two because I was afraid to let friends see my content; I separated them because I don’t have time to explain myself to people who just don’t get it and never will.
Now I can spend my energy engaging people who are happy to be engaged.
4. Not everyone cares.
While some people will have strong reactions to your content, others simply aren’t interested because of your topic.
It goes back to that target audience thing we all keep hearing about. If you talk about courageous parenting, then people who aren’t interested in parenting most likely won’t even raise an eyebrow, much less click on a link.
5. It’s easier to like, share, and comment on courageous content than it is to create and publish it.
But somebody’s got to do it. It might as well be you.
That way, people who aren’t interested in creating the content, can still support and spread ideas that they believe in.
6. Continue the conversation.
Practically speaking, you should repost older content simply because most people didn’t see it the first time. Even if you only write or speak about a subject once, you should re-share it multiple times so that more people can find it.
But there’s usually a way and a reason to create new content as well.
Courageous content is often dynamic and complex with lots of nodes to unpack and knots to untangle.
Just when you think you’ve said enough about an issue, people will start to ask for more.
Sometimes you manage to get through those initial discussions about a difficult issue because the initial discussions are clichéd, merely repetitions of what everyone’s okay with saying.
But it takes even more courage to stick with the conversation, even after all the hate has been spewed.
You have to find even more courage to dig and probe all around and within the issue, all around and within yourself.
So . . .
What have your interactions on social media taught you about publishing content?