I found myself explaining social media to someone that hesitatingly admitted to not using it. I was under the misconception that everyone was on at least one social network, so I’m often surprised when I meet people who don’t use it at all. Or if they do, don’t know what they should and should not be doing. Sometimes we can also use a refresher.
Social Media is NOT — Social media is not a foreign language, and there’s nothing to fear. Social media is also not just “something your business should be doing”, it’s essential.
Social Media IS — It’s where you should be yourself, whoever you are. Social media is like a big party, where you can just show up, and spark or join, a conversation. It’s where you can connect, and stay connected with partners and customers (or eavesdrop on conversations your competitors are having).
Here are 5 easy steps to get you started:
Step 1 — Choose Your Party Location
It’s important to know where your target audience is. Where are they hanging out? Are there a lot of people there? Your friends could be only on LinkedIn or Facebook, or maybe everyone you want to reach is on Twitter.
Step 2 — Select Your Outfit
When you attend a party, or a corporate function, you put on your best outfit to make a good impression. Right?
Profile Image — For business, your company logo is fine. If you’re a one man or woman show, or you are the business, select a picture representative of who you are.
Header Image — This is your chance to showcase in a photo or graphic who you are as a company. Are you a photography business? Put your favourite shot here. Graphic designer who does infographics? You know what to do.
Biography/Description — On most social networks you can add a few lines of description, who you are, where you’re located, what you do. If you really want people to find you, focus on the WHY you are there, or what you’re going to be talking about. ie. “#CMO who loves #conferences, #surfing and telling their teenage son what to do”. Use keywords and hashtags so people can find you.
Step 3 — Your Clique
As an individual you have many varied interests: music, theatre, food, wine. As a business your focus may be a little more concentrated. Who do you follow? The question is, who do you want to talk to at this party? Your business is unique. To get started know who you want to talk to, and follow them:
- Customers (existing and prospective)
- Press and Bloggers
- Industry influencers
In a short time, people will start following you. Follow them back.
Step 4 — Being Social
You don’t know what you’re doing yet. You’re afraid of embarrassing yourself by saying something stupid at this social party. One thing you never ever do is walk into a party and start sales pitching your business. It is the single fastest way to turn people away from you. Imagine what you would do in person, and go from there. Consider how it puts you off when all someone does it talk about themselves at a party. How long do you stick around in that conversation?
Start by being the wallflower until you’re ready to start a conversation of your own. There’s no shame in this, and no one is judging you. The first thing you can do is listen to those around you. By following the types of people above, your news feed will start filling up with things that are relevant to you. See what others are talking about. You’re a social butterfly listening to different people at a party, before settling on a conversation you want to join.
When you’re chatting with someone at an event, you nod in agreement. The social media way to do this is to give a post the big thumbs up, a “like” or “heart”. Show people you’re listening to them. I wouldn’t do this with every post you read. You’ll be that annoying guy no one takes seriously, giving everyone high fives around a room.
If you really like something you read, share it. You like their story enough to let other people know and support them. Trust me, they’ll appreciate this. Making someone else the centre of attention is a huge compliment, and shows you have great taste.
Step 5 — Contribute
Feeling comfortable yet? Good. You’re ready!
Join a conversation. If you have something in your news feed that resonates with you, reply or comment, agree or disagree.
Make your own contributions valuable. You want your own followers to like and share what you say. It drives people to your website, your blog, your business.