Who didn’t love kindergarten? The blocks, the milk, the naps: it was heaven on earth, but at some point we all had to grow up and take on those dreaded responsibilities. How did that happen? Luckily, we have people like Ivan Reitman (father of the gifted Jason Reitman of Juno and Up In The Air fame) and Arnold “The Governator” Schwarzenegger to remind us just how amazing those years were.
Kindergarten Cop, if you are one of the 12 people who never got sick and watched it on USA, is about a detective who goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher to uncover a drug dealer. But here’s the kicker: the cop is Arnold and he’s macho and he hates kids! Oh my, it just has mischief and comedy written all over it.
While this movie invariably makes me laugh, this post is more about what lessons stick with us from kindergarten and how to use them in our lives as social media professionals. I’m sure you are all familiar with Robert Fulghum‘s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten and while I will pull a little from his idea, I’ve made some of my own and encourage you to comment with your ideas as well. Ok, here goes.
The 9 Things I Really Need to Know About Social Media That I Learned in Kindergarten
1. Be Nice: What a simple idea, right? Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best, Occam’s Razor, if you will. Chris Brogan and Julien Smith have a great book called Trust Agents about how to operate in this “human business” known as social media. A lot that goes into trusting someone is simply being able to like them and the easiest way to get someone to like you is to be nice. It’s simple, but not a lot of things we learn in kindergarten are complex.
2. Don’t Lie: In this age of constant transparency, it’s nearly impossible to get away with lying on a grand or even small scale. From my history in PR I’m a big advocate for transparency and think many problems could have been avoided if people simply told the truth. How do you think it will help you social media image if you are caught saying one thing on a forum to rally agreement and have something else stated on your Facebook page? Not well.
3. Let Others Play: What better way to utilize social media by actually making it “social”? What a great concept, right? Try to find ways to foster two-way communication, whether it be answering the e-mails and comments that come to you or creating avenues for customers to show themselves using your products.
4. Don’t Hit People: This one relates to #1, but I wanted to expand because I think this merits its own conversation. If you always play devil’s advocate it might not be helping your causes (great post by Tim Sanders about that here) and if the only comments you leave on others’ blogs or ideas are negative, you are doing nothing but hindering creativity. Tomorrow try agreeing with every idea people bring to the table and see what changes occur in your professional life.
5. Clean Up Your Own Messes: Another simple one, but one we often forget it seems. No one is going to clean up after you. If you mess up, clean up and go on. Some of the best ideas have come from mistakes and sometimes the best process for discovery is trial and error. Just get up and go.
6. Take a Nap Every Afternoon: This one might seem strange to you, but one thing I tend to do is work so hard I tire myself out and even though I’m working, I’m unproductive. Learn to slow down at least once a day. Whether that be reading a non-work related book (I’m reading Clown Girl by Monica Drake), taking a walk outside, or literally taking a nap once a day. Learn to slow down and be quiet. Some friends of mine in Boston found a way to implement this into the work day in a way, check out their idea here.
7. Say You’re Sorry When You Hurt Someone: A simple apology can go a long way in social media marketing and in life. Learn to say you’re sorry to people who deserve it.
8. Remember the First Word You Learned From Dick and Jane–LOOK: Keep your eyes open to the world around you. Things are changing every day, especially in social media and personal branding. Start a Google Reader, spend an hour each morning looking through Digg.com or Delicious.com or Twitter to find new ideas or things that speak to you. LET things speak to you. Look with your eyes and with your heart and keep both of them open.
9. Post Your Work on the Fridge So Everyone Can See It: Why do we write blogs or post on forums or create Youtube videos? It’s because we WANT people to see our work. Don’t write something and then put it away, find ways to show as many people as possible. Join Digg.com and Technorati. Have socialmediatoday.com post your comments and blogs. Find ways to get your ideas out there and people following #8 will find it. Help make social media “social.”
Those are the things that kindergarten taught me about social media. What are the ones you can think of? Let’s work together to make a huge list that we can print out and hang in our offices and cubicles to remind us to keep things simple. Life’s not always as complicated as we make it out to be. As Arnold reminds us, sometimes “it’s not a tumah.”