Social media, reading between the lines

Leaning more to having an  introverted personality type,  I pretty much live in the virtual world most of the time.

The internet is a very real virtual world where people buy and sell and connect without meeting in person. I love reading comments on social media sites because they reveal so much about the way people interpret statements, opinions and content shared.

Online communication is very different to offline communication. Strangely enough, online often tends to reveal more about a person than face-to-face meetings. Often, when meeting face-to-face, we have our guard up, worrying about how others are going to perceive us. Online liberates us from these concerns. Online often allows you to experience far more open, honest and confident communications.

Humans are visual by nature. In a face-to-face meeting, we process hundreds of bits of information about each other whereas online we have mostly the written word without the face-to-face. In the real world 93% of our communication is non-verbal, and we are constantly basing decisions on the signals we give off to each other in what we think and feel emotionally at the time (body language).

However, the tricky part of online is that without the face-to-face aspect people can very easily misinterpret a message. What I’ve learnt over the years through my own posts is that people interpret content in many different ways and sometimes it gets interpreted the wrong way based on people’s experiences and perceptions of things.

Words – flat, featureless and emotionless – can create the entirely wrong impression. That’s why when writing (when facial expressions and the warmth in your eyes are not there) you have to write very carefully. Content has to be very judiciously chosen and written.

First, consider how you want your reader to react and feel. Then cast your language in the kind of mood and emotion you would be using as if you were engaging in a face-to-face meeting. Never forget that misinterpretation is so easy with just the written word to go on. Your message can be received either positively or negatively.

So we may find online a great way to ‘hide’ from those face-to-face meetings – but we have to remember that writing has tone. The way words are chosen, phrases selected, topics pushed – all creates a language that runs under the black and white. And this ‘hidden’ language is as powerful as your body language. You may have the reader’s attention with your words – but you win his/her heart because he can hear the warmth in your tone. He/she imagines your smile.

I am still learning myself how to communicate online because of the way people interpret information and I am not sure we will ever get it 100% right but practice and trying goes a long way.  Have you had a post gone wrong where you intended one outcome but got another?

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Romany Thresher

Online Presence Brand Strategist
Romany Thresher works as an online digital project consultant and social media marketer bringing together all your digital assets making sure they work in sync. Advising and training self-starters, go-getters, business owners and entrepreneurs who would like to build an online legacy and do business online. From website, to email, to social media, managing all of your digital assets.

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