Social Media: Why it pays to be super awesome to almost everyone

or lessons I’ve learned from interacting with strangers on the Internet all day…

Remember in high school when being mean to people made you more popular? Fortunately the internet was built by people who weren’t at all popular in high school so the same rules don’t apply. To build up your social media reputation you’ll need to be accountable, genuine and nice to people.

Why? Well, because the Internet isn’t a zero sum game. Collective intelligence, collaborative projects, sharing tools – the more people cooperate the more everyone benefits. Also, have you seen how much there is on the internet? You aren’t the only show in town. If you’re a jerk people won’t waste their valuable time on you.

Google is the new resume. That stuff on the internet? Yeah, it stays around forever. You want to start an online brawl with someone? Sure, maybe it’ll get you a spike in traffic, but people will be able to search it for years to come. Do you really want to be known for throwing a tantrum? Leave that to celebrities who can’t spell.

Pack some serious Whuffie. Whuffie is the ephemeral, reputation-based currency of Cory Doctorow’s science fiction novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. The currency of choice on the Internet isn’t money it’s social capital. To earn it you need to put in some serious interaction time with people. Throwing more money at social media doesn’t usually work; you have to walk the talk. Want to know more about this? Tara Hunt wrote a book, and you can pre-order it RIGHT HERE.

Give more than you take. This is different than giving away your product for free. This is being a part of a community, bringing something to the table and sharing it without expecting anything in return. Amber Naslund gets it and shares ten ways to give it away on her blog.

Be authentic (or what’s with the “almost everyone” part). Being nice is cool. Being fake-PR-ish is not. A part of being awesome is being honest. If you don’t like something, you can say so, just don’t be rude about it. Authenticity is one of the things that helps people really connect with you. While you are aspiring to be the nicest person ever make sure your personality is still shining through.