Social media is big in 2013. How big? If you haven’t seen one of Erik Qualman’s excellent Social Media Revolution videos you should click on the image below and watch one now.
And social media is only going to get bigger. For many who have yet to dip their toe into the social media wading pool this is a scary thing.
But, really, you don’t have to do everything at once and you can certainly try one platform and slowly learn to use it in a way that makes sense to you. So how do you get started?
5 First Steps in Social Media:
1. Decide on a goal: Do you want to talk with distant family members more frequently? Or use it for professional or social networking? To learn a new skill? Before jumping in you need to understand "why" you're doing this. If you aren't sure, ask friends and family why they're on social media
2. Pick one platform: Look at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn and Foursquare. Or ask a friend to show you their pages in these networks and have them explain how they use them. Take your time, but pick just one to get started on.
3. Sign up for that network: Again, ask a friend for help or do some Google research on how to get started on that particular platform. Complete your profile. If you have a smartphone, download the app(s) onto your mobile device. Spend time creating an online image that looks and sounds appealing.
4. Watch, listen and learn: Social media is all about conversations and to converse you must first listen. Pay attention to how others use the network and how they interact with others. Connect with just a few well-known friends at first. Very slowly expand your network to other people you find interesting.
5. Seek expertise: Use Google search to find other blog posts, white papers and how-to videos. Sign up for a class (see below) or join a club or group that shares best practices.
OK, so you’re off and running, but, can you mess up in social media? Well sure, but almost nothing you do on social media will have serious consequences. However, there are a few things you might do that will slow your progress. So avoid these mistakes:
5 Rookie Mistakes in Social Media:
1. Being self-absorbed: Remember, social media is like a social gathering – no one wants to spend time with the bore who only talks about themselves or things that matter to them. Find ways to help others, answer their questions, comment on or share their posts.
2. Talk too much: Again, no one likes a conversation hog. Sharing 25 internet memes goes very quickly from funny to irritating. Be selective. Think about what you would like to see show up in your social feed. Share accordingly.
3. Wildly erratic presence: Not being on your network for days and then sharing 15 updates in an hour is no way to connect with people. Space out your contributions and if you need to look into using tools such as Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and Buffer that can help with content scheduling.
4. Not reciprocating: You should always follow back anyone who is relevant to your goals in social media, thank people who share your content and, most importantly, reply to anyone who talks to or mentions you.
5. Being impatient: Don’t get anxious about the size of your network. A quality network takes time to grow and eventually it will grow exponentially. The person who is desperate for friends or followers is somewhat unattractive on social media.
So, are you ready to dip your toes into social media? Do you know someone who needs a nudge to get started? Perhaps this post helps.
Class: If you’re in the Rochester, N.Y. area I will be teaching a class called "Social Media For Beginners" 6:30-8:30 pm on Tuesday, April 16 at the Rochester Brainery. It is designed as a hands-on, getting-started type of class. If you have questions about the class please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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