“It’s all HUMBUG, I tell you, HUMBUG!”

Dickens’ Christmas Carol, first published in December 1843, is credited historically with reinventing Christmas as a time of festivity and merriment, of goodwill to all men, introducing trees, cards and celebrations after a period of ‘somberness and sobriety’.

A Christmas Carol has since become a touchstone of how we should behave, particularly to our fellow man, over the festive period.

Sadly, a coda for how we should conduct ourselves on social media is still widely lacking in a year where the newspapers have reported a wide range of social misdemeanors from the hilariously incompetent – footballers and cricketers are a reliable source, to the incredibly sad – the worst cases of teenage bullying.

So as it’s Christmas, with New Year’s resolutions following hard behind, here’s my Dickens’s inspired five point plan on how we can all change our ways and not to be so Scrooge like on Social Media.

1. Be Sociable

Scrooge turns down his nephew Fred’s invitation to dinner, preferring to spend Christmas Eve alone. The social media equivalent is to decline to follow, like or engage with anyone at all on social media channels. Scrooge may have riches, family, a house and people who want to be his friend, but if he refuses to engage with them, well the Ghost of Christmas future shows how that turns out for him.

2. Don’t be a Troll

Scrooge rudely turns away two gentleman collecting money to feed the poor and variously calls Christmas ‘humbug’ and ‘a poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every 25th December’.

In modern terms, Scrooge is a troll – a disagreeable old buzzard who treats other people’s enthusiasm for Christmas as sport for him to knock down. Social Media is about adding to the debate, not shooting down other people’s views just because you don’t share them. Apply Thumper’s Law  ‘If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all’

3. Be Generous

The life force of social media is liking and following people because you’re interested in what they have to say and the content they post. So be generous, ‘like’ things on Facebook, re-tweet and re-pin stuff, share and follow, even if there is no obvious monetary value to doing so.

Unlike Scrooge and his business partner Marley  – These are the sorts of people who would never share anything and follow no one, occasionally broadcasting an odd self-congratulatory message.

4. Take Advice

It takes three ghosts to persuade stubborn old Ebenezer that his philosophy is wrong. You also need experienced (but hopefully not dead) advisers to create good social media strategies. If you’re a brand, you also need good original content and community management run by people who know what they’re doing. Scrooge clearly did not do a good job at managing his own publicity.

5. Invest

Social media channels may be free but content and good manpower is not. When Scrooge finally sees the error of his ways, Christmas moves from an avoidable cost to an important investment. He sends a prize turkey to his assistant Bob Cratchit and gives him a pay rise. He spends the day with his nephew’s family and treats everyone with kindness, generosity and compassion.

Let’s hope we can all change a little for the better in 2015.

Thinking about content marketing strategy for 2015? Download our free eBook – ‘Seven Steps to a Content Strategy‘ 

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