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How your Facebook presence can inspire your friends and family

by Alex in |

Over at The Hookup Column, Anna Lind Thomas concludes her list of Dos & Don’ts for Facebook status lines with the following:

DO inspire, uplift, support and spread love.

Anna’s suggestion is a refreshing departure from the all-too-common focus on social media as “personal branding” or “reputation management”. Yes, you should think about what your profile and latest status update say about you. Anna herself quotes a great question: “If you died, this moment,  what would your Facebook status say about you?” [As I write this, mine would reveal a profound shift in sentiment towards Cat Stevens.]

But (to paraphrase, bastardize and torture yet another great question), ask not what your Facebook profile can do for you, but what it can do for others. This is the essential idea of strategic communications: whatever you say, whether it’s in a speech, a brochure or a website, should be delivering one key message. The point of that message is generally to get someone else to think or do something, whether it’s to vote for your candidate or buy your product or stop smoking.

I’m a great believer in designating Facebook, or some social media platform, as a consciously non-strategic outlet. After all, not every online utterance need serve your vision of world transformation or business domination, and reserving some tiny corner of your online life for actually you as you (you know, what in he olden days we called the “real” you) is a good way to ensure your persona doesn’t entirely overtake your personality.

But being genuine and relaxed is not, I hope, the same as being self-involved. Even if your Facebook presence is targeted entirely at your close friends and family — especially if it’s targeted at your close friends and family — it should do something for them, too. Anna outlines a number of ways your Facebook posts can do something for someone else: by sharing a nice bit of personal news, by posting something you found interesting, by making them laugh.

Why not make your next Facebook post a deliberate effort at inspiring or giving a little love to your Facebook friends? I’m doing that right now:

A Facebook status update encourages friends to focus on how to be happy regardless of their external situation.

First posted on December 8,2010

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