Using social media effectively: How do you use it?

Although this site is primarily about mental health, parents, families, and caregivers as well as individuals suffering from mental health disorders, I would like to share a few thoughts from a discussion I had with a colleague about social media.

Firstly, I’d like to ask you if you use social media yourself? If so, how do you use it? Have you found it successful? Well, I use social media quite a bit. I’m not a “social media junky” and I hate facebook and losing my privacy to the mysterious world of the Internet. But I love Twitter and Pinterest, they both give me the freedom and opportunity to connect with people like you. I have had the opportunity to connect with people all over the world (US, UK, Australia, Canada, Scotland, South America, Brazil, etc). The people I meet by phone, email, or tweets have been very interesting and my mind has been expanded by the experience.

At the same time, a lot of dangers exist online and most of these dangers occur when we fail to apply the appropriate boundaries for ourselves and our children. We have predators, forgers, criminals, creepy crawlers online, and people just waiting for you to make the wrong move. It exists and we shouldn’t ignore it! But “what makes those successful with social media successful in the first place?” I was asked this question at a luncheon for therapists a few months ago. What do you think? I’d love to hear your response. Tweet me (@therapisttee) or post below. Here is a quote from me from the luncheon:

Social media has been one of my most powerful and useful tools as a mental health therapist, international media contributor, advocate, and author. I gained most of my exposure using social media sites such as my personal website, professional blog on mental illness, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+. Although I am not a fan of Facebook and don’t use it, I found the social media sites I do use to be very helpful in connecting others to me and vice versa. One of my best strategies is to connect with people, using discretion, as though I were connecting with them in person. It is always important for me to develop and build an authentic connection using social media. Social media should not be a medium that allows us to disregard the human connection or the emotions and perceptions of others. I use social media to enhance my personality, my credibility, and authenticity. It is a strategy that has bolstered who I really am, not who I’d like to be. That being said, it is extremely important to have a “strategy” on how to relate using social media.
Social media tools can be “creepy” if there is no strategic way in which you intend to use it to connect with others. I would encourage all social media users to engage in molding real connections, with appropriate boundaries and work on developing a true persona online. Strategy doesn’t have to include statistics and research, it can be as simple as developing an authentic connection with people on the other side of the keyboard.
Until next time, all the best!