What Did Jane Austen Know About Social Media?

    by Beth Dunn

    Date

    February 5, 2010 at 10:00 AM

    With the final episode of Jane Austen's Emma aired, we've noticed that people are behaving a little bit more ... courtly to each other. Here's a handy guide to extending that exquisitely good behavior to the social media world.
     
    It is a truth universally acknowledged ...
    that social media is being used by more and more businesses to engage meaningfully with their customers and to drive more qualified traffic to their sites.
     
    And while Jane Austen never blogged (she totally would have), or had a profile on Facebook, or posted status updates on Twitter, she certainly had a great quantity of wisdom to share about social behavior – what is correct, what is silly, and what is disastrous -- that is as true today as it was when young Emma Woodhouse busied herself with meddling in the love lives of all her friends.
     
    What would Jane have had to say about engaging with your customers and promoting your business on social websites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn?

    •    Etiquette matters.

    Although social media is famous for having somewhat loose standards of formality, propriety does hold a central place in any society, like it or not. Every social media platform (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) lays claim to its own particular cultural rules and mores. Be sure that you understand the customs and expectations of each platform before you make a gaffe, lest you cause tongues to wag, or worse, offend Society.

    •    Conversation matters.

    The most prized currency in any refined society is the witty, charming conversation of its habitués. Your conversation may be clever and amusing, but do stop short of being overly self-promotional. It is a delicate balance, to be sure, but eminently achievable by the accomplished practitioner. How? Strive to focus on other people, be courteous, be helpful, be modest, be kind. Avoid gossip and vulgarity at all costs.

    •    Connections matter.

    No, you needn’t be the cousin of every A-list blogger or member of the Twitterati.  Rather, you should strive to cultivate a true circle of friends who share your interests, whose trials and triumphs you can share, and with whose problems you can empathize. Try to make connections between people who should meet, but have not yet; be a matchmaker where one person’s needs and desires meet another person’s strengths and qualities. Create networks of friends who are sincerely glad to know each other, and give them frequent opportunities to connect and help each other.

    •      Love conquers all.

    Share your passion, and those who share your passion too will find you and follow you.  Speak from your heart, do not endeavor to deceive, and all shall be well.


    Image: PBS
     
    Beth Dunn blogs about Jane Austen and other 19th-century-related obsessions at An Accomplished Young Lady .

     

     

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