Thinking outside of the box can earn you a gold star in social

Judges of The Drum's upcoming Social Buzz Awards sound off about the big social media issues on their minds right now.

I want you to do a quick experiment with me. I promise, it will only take 30 seconds and at the end, if you do it right, you'll earn yourself a gold star (and who doesn't love a gold star from time to time, especially when you've actually earned it.)

Ok, it's very easy. I want you to pull open the social media account you use most, either personally or for work: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, whatever you spend the most time on.

Take a look at your feed and all the latest things you've posted to it. Now, I want you to close your eyes (but finish reading this sentence first or you'll never know what comes next), take a deep long breath, and then open them and look again... but this time, as if you weren't the one posting the content. Hell, let's go deeper, as if this was the first time you've ever come across this strange new account.

Do you like what you see? Not just like, but really like, enough to want to favourite, repost or get the coveted follow? Quick, because your attention is wandering, onto what's next...

Twitter says that around 500m Tweets are posted each day, or 5,700 Tweets a second, on average. Obviously you, new Twitter user to this page, are not reading all of them, that would be impossible. But look, there's something happening below; a GIF of a tiny kitten, dressed as a lion, eating a plastic giraffe. That's the most adorable thing you've ever... wait, what were you looking at before?

You have zero seconds to make a new friend (or at least a fan, even if they're not particularly friendly) before they move to the next thing. And sometimes, it's easy to think, well, what do I care if one person didn't like my page. I'll just keep posting content until the entire internet likes me. Something has to connect with someone, right? Wrong. Because communities aren't built by the handfuls, they're done person by person. Someone likes what you do and they share it with their friends who share it with their friends and suddenly you have friends of friends of friends liking your work, generations away from that original re-poster, who can't wait for whatever you come up with next.

So take a look again at your feed. Is it mostly text? Are you not replying to people? Is there no humour, no personality, nothing that would make the average person stop and smile, or keep reading, or give any emotion at all? If the answer is yes to any of these, change it up.

Are you getting the same people again and again who Retweet your posts but never seeing new names or icons? Change it up. Do you, personally, dislike what you see on the page? Change. It. Up. Try something new today. I'm not saying completely rework your entire account, but try one thing new: a pic or emoji with a Tweet where you would have normally only done text, a Retweet of a brand who has nothing to do with you but makes you smile, a message to someone you've never messaged but always thought was great (tell them you think they're great! They may be that new fan!) As long as you don't willingly offend, you have literally nothing to lose and only things to gain (specifically, likes, followers, more traffic, new sales, the recognition of everyone around you for being awesome.)

If you try something new today to make your social media friendlier, more personal or an account you actually like, well then you, my new friend, have earned yourself a gold star.

Alex Shebar is community director at Yelp London he tweets @AlexShebar.

The Drum's Social Buzz Awards, in association with iomart, are open for entry until Friday 14 August.

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