In our formative years, we form the blueprint for everything we come to know about social behavior. How to make friends, the importance of manners, playing nicely and embracing our unique creativity are all skills that we are encouraged to develop and pursue – and they serve us well in later life, both online and offline.
Here are 10 lessons taught at kindergarten that we should all be sure to remember when we’re using social media.
1. Learn to share
As a young child, you learn that sharing is important. Only spoiled little children try to keep everything for themselves. Sharing is caring, as they say, and everyone gets along better if we learn to pool our resources and appreciate the needs and desires of others.
Social media sharing is very important – particularly on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. With enough shares, a story can easily go viral. Be sure to like, share and comment on the content of others (as well as your own) to start networking and building relationships.
2. Embrace your creativity
A splash of color here, a dab of glitter there – we all like things to look nice. At kindergarten we’re encouraged to explore our inner artist with chalks, paints and crayons, and we’re read stories full of brightly colored pictures and characters. From a young age, we understand the power of a compelling visual.
74% of social media marketers regularly include visual assets in their social media marketing. Why? Because they know it makes for more engaging content. Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than those without images, and likewise, Facebook posts with images see more than twice the engagement of those without. As visual creatures, a good image captures the eye and draws us in, far more than can be expected from text updates alone.
3. Make friends
Too many marketers simply treat social media as a platform to shout about their business. But guess what? It doesn’t work. Because just like in real life, social media marketing needs to be a two-way conversation.
As children, we slowly learn that making friends is about give and take. Yin and yang. If you shout over other children all the time, they will become frustrated and your teacher will instruct you to be quiet and calm down.
You may have heard of the 80/20 rule. This is a good rule of thumb to help you work out how much you should post about yourself, versus how much you should be interacting and discussing relevant ideas with others in your industry. 80 percent of your posts should aim to share, educate or add value, while the remaining 20 percent can be used for promotion.
4. Use color
What’s your favorite color? You may not have one now, but guaranteed you had one when you were a child. Whether you prefer a bright green to a vibrant purple may subtly influence your decisions when scrolling through social media. Social marketers should use color psychology to their advantage in branding and marketing materials. For example, yellow is often used to convey warmth and optimism, green can be used to show peace and growth, and blue is most associated with trust and strength. Keep your brand color palette consistent, and be sure to make use of these colors in your social imagery.
5. Tell the time
What’s the time Mr Wolf? When we’re very young, the concept of time is fairly lost on us. By kindergarten age, we are just starting to get a handle on it: we understand that morning is followed by afternoon, evening and night; we know that bathtime is the best time – and that bedtime is the worst.
Likewise with social media, there are good times to post – and there are bad times. And just to be complicated, these timings differ depending on which social platform you’re using and the results you hope to get. For example, the optimal time to post on Facebook is thought to be between 1 and 4 pm late into the week and on weekends. By contrast, the best time to tweet is between 12 and 3pm during the workweek.
Using a social scheduling tool such as Hootsuite to auto-schedule your posts can be a great timesaver, as it automatically works out the most impactful time of day to post your updates.
Read more in our previous post: How To Effectively Manage All Your Social Media Profiles.
6. Have good manners
Good manners are important. We are instructed from toddler age to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, to speak nicely to people, and not to snatch. Good manners will get you a long way, whether you’re three or 33 years old.
So many people use the anonymity of social media platforms to get away with saying whatever they want, badmouthing others and generally acting like trolls. If you’re using social media to represent your business, it should go without saying (but is worth saying) that you should be polite, friendly and respectful at all times. Thank users if they say something nice about you. Ask nicely if you want a favor. Always remember that your interactions will reflect back on your business in one way or another.
7. Know your numbers
In the early days of kindergarten, we are introduced to numbers for the first time. Susan has one apple. Joel has four. How many apples do Joel and Susan have? (Answer: Three – Joel has thrown two of them at his sister).
Social media can be something of a numbers game. There have been lots of studies into what the optimum number of posts per day should be. In order to stay visible, one post per day is not even close, particularly on high traffic platforms such as Twitter. So what’s the latest opinion on the subject? According to Forbes, it depends on the size of your following as much as the platform you’re using. The ideal frequency is determined based on what your business goals are.
But one thing is for sure – try to keep it consistent. Don’t post five times in one day and then disappear for a week. Let your followers get a sense of what to expect, and set realistic targets for posting.
8. Be yourself
As insecure teens, we often feel consumed by a desire to fit in. When we’re younger, we tend to be more carefree. We just do what we do. Children are often described as being the most creative, since they’re unrestricted by social norms and the fear of making mistakes. The truth is that the more we try to fit in with the crowd, the less interesting we become. And guess what? It’s the same for social media.
There are all kinds of social media bandwagons one can jump on, if one wishes. Hashtags. Viral video challenges. International whatever day. These all have their place. But at the end of the day, what people like to see are brands being authentic and human. Knowing their stuff, and talking about it. Providing value for their customers. We can all see through the condescending corporate bull put forth by (far too many) big names. So own your brand identity – and be yourself.
9. Respect the rules
Wash your hands. Do not hit. Put your hand up if you want to speak. Do not litter. Rules help to keep order and harmony, and make the environment – whether school, work or digital – a safe place for everyone. They can also help to prevent people from crossing a line. Rules can be overbearing, but for the most part they’re useful. And if you’re spending a lot of time on social media, it’s good to know them.
No good can come from having a flagrant disregard for the guidelines of whatever social platform you’re using, especially if you’re representing a business. On Reddit for example, each sub-reddit usually has clear rules about what is and isn’t acceptable to post – and that usually means no spam and no shameless self-promotion. Facebook also has strict rules regarding anything that could be perceived as intimidation, hate speech or pyramid selling. Know your social platforms, and make sure you play nicely.
10. Don’t expect to get everything right the first time
When you’re learning something new, either as a child or as an adult, it’s unrealistic to expect that you won’t make mistakes. That’s part of being human. As TED speaker Ken Robinson articulates in his talk on schools and creativity – if you’re not prepared to make mistakes, you’ll never come up with anything original.
Social media is still in its infancy, and the way we use it is always evolving. Be prepared to try new things. If they work or they don’t work, you’ve learned something either way. Whether you run a niche ecommerce store or a network marketing business, you’ll soon come to discover what’s most effective. Just don’t make the same mistake twice.
What else can we learn about social media from the lessons we absorb in kindergarten? Share your own thoughts and experiences with us in the comments.
Patrick Foster: Marketing & Social Media Consultant – I write engaging ecommerce and marketing content for new and seasoned entrepreneurs and business owners alike. I hope to shed some light on what works and what doesn’t – as well as emerging trends that marketers should be aware of.