3 Rules for Social Media & a Happy Birthday

Everyone has their own reasons for being present and active in social media. For many, it's a source of entertainment. For others, it's also a distraction from their everyday routine. For me, social media has been an integral force in my life for almost five years. I took what I learned in high school & college, plus my internships & service jobs, and combined it with the quickly-evolving world of social media marketing. Thanks to this blog and Twitter, I have had countless opportunities come my way. I've met amazing people I'd never have the chance to meet in real life, gone to places and events I'd never know about otherwise, and had exposure in front of brands in a way I'd never be able to before. I have been extremely fortunate to forge the next steps in my career from social media, and I'm finding a lot of gratification in helping neighborhoods, small businesses and big brands alike realize their potential.

All that said, I operate with only three rules when it comes to social media (for myself, on my personal accounts.) These are the things I tell people when they ask me about best practices or how to be active on social. Though they're simple to understand, these rules can be some of the hardest to stick to. But just like anything else that's worth it, sticking to these rules takes focus, determination and hard work. I am far from perfect, but staying true to these rules has helped me pursue the opportunities and connections that've come my way.

#1: Don't be negative.

Open up Twitter or Facebook and scroll through your friends' latest updates. More than likely, there is a fair amount of complaining and criticism about something or someone in their life. Yes, it's easy and can be comforting to air your frustrations out on social media. Remember that anyone in the entire world can see that post and that's what they use to paint a first impression of you. Nobody wants to associate with the Negative Nancys out there. Would you want to be friends with you if you read through your last week's worth of status updates?

#2: Stay positive

Think of this as the flip side of my first rule. With this rule, I mean to focus on talking about the stuff you like. What makes you happy? What are you grateful for right now? Who's done something nice for you lately? Is there a new book/movie/song/etc. you're into? For some reason, people are more likely to tell you what they don't like or aren't into. It feels like a lot more work to stay positive, but it sure beats whining and complaining all the time. Oh, and do this without ulterior motives or in an ingenuine way. What you think might be positive may come across as a backhanded compliment, fake or even offensive.

#3: Keep your relationships to yourself

In conversation, I say this rule as "Never indulge about your close friends, dating/relationships & family." This might be more of a personal preference for me, but I just don't like to share too much about those closest to me. Most of my loved ones are barely on social media as it is! If you care about someone, it's good to respect their attitudes and perspective about social media. If my boyfriend and I have an argument, fine. Y'all don't need to be part of it. If there's conflict with a friend or family member, that's to be resolved offline. Hardly anything is sacred anymore, and it's nice to have those parts of my life kept private.

Why am I sharing these with you? I hope you find these useful if you're wondering how to create your personal brand and reputation through social media. Another reason is because I don't normally talk about my boyfriend, but today is his birthday and I want to wish him a happy day!

Thank you for always telling it like it is, for saying things I don't want to hear but need to, and for always challenging me to be better. I might have done some cool things in life, but I'm just trying to keep up with you :) Love you. Happy birthday!