Want to transform your life? No, not your real life. Your online social media life. Here's how.
The website USA.gov lists the 10 most common New Year's Resolutions by do-gooding, self-improving Americans.
They're fine and familiar. But it turns out that when you apply them to your life online -- your social media activity -- they can truly make a difference. (Plus, you're more likely to stick to them.) Here are the 12 most common New Year's Resolutions applied to transform your social media life:
1. Lose weight
We all know social media is a massive time sink. It also takes up a lot of mental energy. Part of the problem is that we tend to sign up for new social networks but don't delete the accounts on our old ones. So many of us have 5, 10, 20 or more accounts. It's time to cut some unnecessary fat. Choose the top three social media accounts -- the ones that you engage on not because you feel obligated or addicted but the ones that enrich your life and where you form or maintain real relationships -- and delete the rest.
2. Volunteer to help others
Trolling, shaming, bullying and harassment on Twitter is truly out of control, but less than it used to be. Twitter greatly improved its anti-trolling tools since the last time I called them out for failing to do so.
Now, it's a little quicker to report an abusive account. And blocking actually blocks now.
So here's the resolution: When you see someone else being harassed online, lend a helping hand. Report the abusive account immediately (on the web version, go to the abuser's Twitter profile, click on the gear icon and click "block or report." "Block" will already be selected. Also click "Report," then follow the radio button options to specify the nature of the abuse.
3. Quit smoking
Posting excessively on topics that are likely to cause arguments (politics, religion, smartphone operating systems) are likely to cause flame wars, which alienate people while simultaneously taking up everyone's time.
Instead, resolve to post more productively by avoiding topics that insight flame wars.
4. Get a better education
Instead of just following the people you already happen to know (as people do on Facebook), instead seek out the people you'd like to know because they're super knowledgeable about something you're interested in (as people do on Google+). Engage with them. Learn.
5. Get a better job
Use social media as if it were a blog and post on your professional interests. It not only can make you better at your job, but can also attract others in the field who might hire you. Everyone wants to hire the subject matter expert, thought leader and someone engaged enough to talk about it on social media.
6. Save money
There are many ways to use social media to save money. One is to consistently search for the hashtags #coupon," "#bargain" "#sale" and other such words that will lead to promotions on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere.
Another is to follow the social media pages of the companies you buy stuff from, so you'll be informed when they offer special pricing.
7. Get fit
If you're like most people, your social media accounts are flabby with excess follows -- people you don't really want to follow and who waste your time with posts you don't care about. The major social media sites like Facebook and Google+ have great tools for un-following, blocking and muting. Be aggressive about always eliminating the posts and posters from your stream, so the stream you do see is as lean and light as possible.
8. Improve diet
No matter what diet you choose (Mediterranean, Paleo, DASH, vegan -- whatever) follow sites and experts on social media. Sticking to a diet is much easier when you have daily inspiration and new information, and your social media streams are perfect places to add that input.
9. Manage stress
As you're reading your social media streams, monitor your stress level. When you encounter people who upset you for any reason, unfollow, block or mute them. People think blocking is rude, or that anyone blocked must meet some specific troll criteria. Forget all that. You can and should block anyone you like for any reason you like, and the best reason is when people make you mad or stressed out.
10. Manage debt
If you've ever been helped by people on social media, either with information or advice, then why not pay back that debt to the social media space by taking the time to help others in the same way. Whenever some noob appears lost and is asking a question about how something works, for example, why not take that person under your wing and help them out?
11. Take a trip
We can't all travel full-time. But we can travel vicariously through the social media streams of people who do and post about it. Travelers who keep their social media followers up to date with what they're doing and where they're going are a joy to follow, especially if they do amazing things and take amazing photos. One stellar example is Trey Ratcliff, who posts about his adventures on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube. You can find all his social streams on Trey's website.
12. Reduce, reuse, and recycle
Different social media sites are best for different kinds of content. But that doesn't mean you can't re-use and recycle different parts of your post. For example, let's say your friend writes an article somewhere. You can post about the article on Google+ to start a conversation about the ideas in that article. You can throw up a link on Twitter, and you can talk about your friend's achievement of getting published on Facebook. Somewhere between the extremes of posting specific information only on one site, or copying and pasting the exact same post on all sites is the reduce, reuse and recycle approach of posting different angles on different sites according to what those sites are best for.
There you have it! It turns out the most common New Year's resolutions can be beautifully applied to social media to dramatically improve your social media life. Happy New Year, everyone! I'll see you online!