How My Dog Helped Me Improve In Social Media

You might be thinking, now that is a stretch! Well you might be right but actually, my dogs have always taught me how to be a better person and so it goes without saying how to be better at social media.

My dog is a standard poodle named Pilot. His temperament is unlike any dog I have ever had before and his sensibility about people is impressive. As a result of his special skills we volunteer as a pet partner team at hospitals. He has an uncanny sense of how to engage children who are frightened of dogs and he knows how to attract the attention of adults who are just not interested. Watching him, I have learned what people warm up to and how to get past their fears. I of course can’t mimic his behavior for if I did, I would get arrested or smacked upside the head for sure (he’s a notorious crotch-nuzzler), and I can’t rely on a cute fuzzy face with big brown eyes to be my secret weapon. What I can do however is gain a better understanding of human nature and learn how to engage people, even when they don’t appear to want to.

1. Fear is irrational but must be respected. When Pilot meets someone who is afraid of dogs he sits very still and very quietly with his back to them, but in their path. He seems to know that a staring contest would be aggressive and to approach would be fruitless. What he seems to also know is that he is too cute to resist for long. In social media, forcing someone to ‘see’ you is not going to work, but finding ways to be seen can work. The more you can get ‘seen’ in an unaggressive light, the less uncomfortable your presence will become and soon you will feel like a friend.

2. Disinterest and indifference usually comes from lack of perceived value or relevancy. When Pilot meets someone who is not willing to engage with him he sizes them up first. If he feels that the person is never going to warm up he treats them with the same indifference. However, if he senses that they could warm up, he walks over and leans into them. Again, he remains calm and quiet so not to intrude but he makes his presence known. If after a few minutes there is still no response he begins to rub his head into their side, which invariably pulls down a hand and once they touch him, his soft fluffy hair is something they get lost in and a new friend is made. Translated for social media, this is finding ways to represent value. How can you add to the conversation, offer something that will either make them feel good or be useful? The more often you can tweet or share something relevant and useful to someone the more likely they are to recognize your value. But be patient. This could take awhile.

3. Having fun is attractive. Poodles are known for their playful and clownish nature as well as their intelligence. What Pilot has figured out is that when he wants to play with someone he needs to demonstrate how much fun that would be. He starts with the doggie bow – butt up in the air, paws forward, head arched. The intended playmate can’t help but giggle and play begins. Sometimes when this doesn’t work he starts doing tricks on his own. He knows that these behaviors bring him treats and must be thinking that it is a behavior we humans value. So he does tricks on his own. In social media if you are having fun, enjoying what you are doing this is attractive to others. Being playful at times makes good business sense since we all can use a smile and a laugh now and again. So sharing an unexpected funny video or comic strip can get you some attention and give them a moment of play they will appreciate. If you have a ‘trick’ you can perform, by all means make a video and share it with us.

4. Dogs don’t hold grudges. If you yell at a pet or ignore them they accept that and move on. By moving on what I mean is that they yield in the moment but never let it affect their relationship. In social media you should ignore bad behavior and if it is someone you value, don’t hold a grudge just let some time or the incident pass and get on with business as usual.

5. Pilot is house broken – what this means is that he never relieves himself indoors. What that has taught me in social media is that one should never give over to an urge or reaction to make a mess or get ugly online. Take it outside and offline.

Yes, lessons from my dog have helped me be a better person and become a better social media person too. Is there anything you would care to share?