What I Learn About my Clients From Their Social Media Activity
This is a guest blog post written by Terry Sidhu. Want to contribute? Check out the 2016 publishing calendar.
Social media has become an integral part of our lives and as coaches, it’s important that we’re aware of our clients’ social media and online activity. I find that our active social media accounts act like a window into our desires. Getting to know a person online and getting to know the person behind the online presence makes for a dynamic understanding of what your client truly desires.
With permission, I analyze the social media activity of my coaching clients who are active on social media sites. I find that peeking into their online lives and getting to know them personally helps bridge the gap between where they are now and where they want to be in their lives. By establishing this early on, I find I’m more productive as a coach because I spend more time helping them get there, instead of trying to define where “there” is.
In no particular order, here are the top five things I look out for and uncover during a social media analysis.
Who/what they like
I reckon that looking at what your client "likes" on social media is one of the most fun and insightful ways to learn about them and their desires. I have a marketing background, so I understand the impact and influence media has on desire. If art imitates life and life imitates art, then we can learn a lot about a client’s life through the genre of movies they like or their favorite music, for instance.
By engaging in the same material my clients like, I begin to notice trends and themes within the messages they receive, from their understanding of relationships through to their idea of what success is. When I see trends, I can start asking the right questions.
For example, if I have a client that really likes sci-fi films, has an eclectic taste in music and enjoys watching funny vines, a little research can tell me that this client could be a procrastinator; is seeking an escape or break from everyday life; seeks to be more in tune with emotion; even feels like there is a purpose for their life, but has yet to discover it. These are merely subjective ideas about my client, but they’re a great starting point in terms of understanding who they are.
Personal posts and shares
Looking at what my client’s post online can help me determine the type of person they’re trying to be, and/or the type of person they think they are. It really helps me challenge my clients’ identities, and I found it’s incredibly telling when I have a client who is having issues with their sexuality for example. All I'm looking out for is whether or not what I’m learning about my client online, is the same as the client I know in person. Understanding their posts and shares really helps me gage their confidence and insecurities. If they’re not presenting themselves truthfully online, I can investigate why.
Who they follow
Who are my clients following? From Oprah through to Kim Kardashian; Richard Branson through to Russell Brand. Is it research or interest? Is it popularity or wisdom? The spectrum is far and wide, but it’s good to learn about the people they follow. It helps determine mindset and drive. More importantly, I find it helps me communicate with my clients better. For example, when it comes to talking about and setting goals, perhaps I need to adopt more of a business approach in order to help them understand, or should I place more emphasis on the emotional gain? Sometimes I want to scream at some of my clients because they fail to understand a point or reason, but I’ve learned that I can’t speak to everyone the same way. We all learn and respond to stimulus differently. Find out who your clients listen to and you might want to adapt your style.
This one goes hand-in-hand with personal posts and shares. However, I notice among a lot of my clients who post pictures, are often trying to portray their lives in a positive light. Not that there is anything wrong with that. However if a client comes to me saying that there is nobody in their lives that understands them, or that they don’t know how to seek support from loved ones, it becomes apparent as to why. If they’re telling the world they’re okay and that they have their lives together and everything is perfect, who’s going to question it?
We don’t really post about the bad stuff and coaching has definitely made me notice the negative impact social media has on our lives. With some clients, I’ve found posting pictures has become a sort of overcompensation, to maintain some sort of position, keeping up with society's timeline. Perhaps I’m reading too much into it but, as a result, I’ve stopped posting personal stuff online. I’ve noticed I’m having real conversations again, because people in my life feel that there is something to learn about me again. It’s a wonderful feeling and it’s something I’ve begun suggesting to my clients, especially those struggling to connect with others.
When? Why? and How often do they log onto social media?
To prep for their first coaching session, I ask my clients to log their daily lives, by placing emphasis on emotion. Anything from when they’re feeling sad or upset through to when they’re feeling happy and motivated. I ask for details such as time and date, what they were doing or perhaps what they were trying to accomplish at the time. The more detailed the better because it helps me understand their day-to-day lives.
What I do sometimes, is to investigate their social media activity alongside their daily routines. Social media has become second nature to us, that I feel we’re becoming numb to the activity. I recently had a client who would log on and log off after five minutes, then log back on within a minute, log off after a few more minutes and then literally log back in again seconds later. I wouldn’t have paid much attention if it wasn’t a daily trend. So when I questioned them about it, they had no idea that they were doing it and comparing this activity alongside their daily log, this serial procrastinator was procrastinating while they were procrastinating! It was a realization that really hit home; a realization they could not turn a blind eye to because the evidence was there.
As you may agree, there is a lot more to learn from your client’s social media activity. I think for any coach wanting to better understand their clients in this ever-evolving digital era, you might want to incorporate this sort of analysis into your practice too.
About Terry Sidhu
Terry Sidhu is a relationship, life and family coach with an advanced level diploma in psychology, based out of Vancouver, BC. You can connect with Terry through Noomii, his Website, Blog, Facebook and Twitter.
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