On social media, don't be like "The Big Bang Theory" guys

The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory

Those first steps on social media (or even the later ones, often) are tentative and often miss the mark. Striking the right tone can be tricky. When conversing online, don't make the same mistakes the characters on "The Big Bang Theory" do:

Sheldon Cooper

Sheldon holds himself in high regard and doesn't hesitate to tell people he's not interested in their problems. He talks about himself as much as possible and dominates the conversation, believing himself to always be right and the authority on every subject.

How not to be Sheldon: Ask questions. Be an authority on your subject matter, but be sure to also share great resources from others, and be open to engaging with opposing points of view constructively. Don't be afraid to respond to something a bit offbeat and possibly unrelated to your cause if there's an opportunity to show a bit of humanity or a sense of humor. (Learn from examples like this one, from Zappos.) Never, ever post press releases on Twitter or Facebook, opting instead to share a more conversational blog post on the subject.

Leonard Hofstadter

Leonard constantly second-guesses himself, always worried about other people's approval.

How not to be Leonard: Be confident and forthright without being arrogant. Strike a friendly, conversational tone, sharing and asking questions but also accepting your role as a thought leader on your subject matter, sharing helpful resources from your organization and allies. Don't fear your "haters" - engage your allies so they speak up on your behalf.

Howard Wolowitz

Wolowitz is over-friendly to the point of sleaziness. In his interactions with women, he'll try any trick in the book to get into their (ahem) good graces, which usually results in disaster because it's easy to see his true motives.

How not to be Wolowitz: Be genuine. Have a firm purpose for how and why your organization is using social media, and keep it posted in a prominent place. Don't resort to spamming, begging, constant requests for donations and petition signatures, or glomming on to completely inappropriate Twitter trends just to get some more followers. When mistakes are made, be transparent and quick to respond. And above all, don't be creepy.

Raj Koothrappali

Koothrappali suffers from a pathology that renders him mute around women, unless he has been drinking. He's terrified of the opposite sex.

How not to be Koothrappali: Don't be scared! Accept that you will probably make mistakes on social media, but that if you have a strategy in place to deal with them, they won't be the end of the world. If your leadership is resistant toward social media, point them toward case studies showing how it's helped organizations succeed. Or toward a blog post like this.

What's your best advice for striking the right tone on social media?