(this post originally appeared at Jon Reiss Dot Com on October 14, 2010)

For me, the greatest story a creative tells is the story of their own creative journey, a story that the creative’s audience members experiences with them. Social media has made this story the ultimate “Behind the Scenes” feature, and if done right, gives the audience a hero to root for – not just a project to support.


I don’t like wasting time talking about how best to use social media. I do however, like talking about not wasting time. The life of today’s creative is a madcap deluge of unending commitments in work, life, and love, coupled with a raging stream of real-time information, decisions, and choices.

Like it or not, social media is a necessity. It’s not going away, and if you want anything closely resembling success, you need to use it – but not waste your time. You’ve got enough on your plate.

Here are my five “Don’t Waste My Bloody Time” social media constants.

LISTEN.

The Greek Stoic philosopher, Epictetus, said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Apparently Epictetus was a faithful tweeter. And a good one. Listening is the single most important thing you can do on social media. If you don’t, it’s like being the guy who only talks about himself. Yep. THAT guy.

WHEN YOU DO SPEAK, MAKE IT WORTHWHILE

Have something to say. Don’t waste time. And don’t make every word out of your mouth promotional. You ARE more than your work. Your work is your work. The best TV shows are the ones with great characters that you want to welcome into your home week in and week out. Be that great character.

BE YOU.

Be genuine. Be bold. Don’t be afraid to be who you are. Stand up for your causes. Be controversial. Say what you feel needs to be said. Don’t waste your time trying to be everything to everyone. You’ll only become nothing to everyone. Guess what? Some people won’t like you. Deal.

RELATIONSHIPS ARE EVERYTHING

Being active in social media means nurturing relationships in a virtual world in much the same way you do in the “real” world. Are you the center of attention with a vast circle of friends in “the real world?” Or are you in your own niche with a very close, loyal group of friends? Doesn’t matter. Each takes time and effort. Everything else in social media is filler. It’s all about relationships.

NO TWO PEOPLE ARE THE SAME

Broad generalizations about how best to use social media are useless when they start with the words “to maximize your ROI and engage your tribalization standards.” Just as the marketing needs for every film are different, every creative needs to find their own way of using social media; a way that makes them comfortable, that brings them enjoyment, and that is the best utilization of their time.

The secret to social media success is that there is no secret to social media success. There are, of course, ways to royally screw it up, but success comes down to human decency and common sense. Be genuine. Be real. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. You are more than your work. You’re a human being. Share your interests. Share your passions. Share the passions of others. Keep the ear to mouth ratio in perspective, and never, ever settle for anything less than who you really are.

Just be you.