Introduction to Social Media -The Hows, Whats, and Whys
It can be extremely overwhelming to jump on board social media, especially since it seems that everybody else is ahead of you by about a decade. It also doesn’t help that the social media landscape changes as often as the temperature in Seattle. It seems every year there is a social network star that is born, and hundreds of more that try to rise to that success but ultimately fail.
If you’re wondering how and where you should start off with social media, this blog post will offer you guidelines.
How to Approach Social Media:
1) Be Patient and Keep at It
Social media is a new language. For those that may be in the baby boomers or older, it can be odd to have so much information bombarded to you at once, or that it may seem so strange that people are offering personal information so freely. It’s important that any person new to social media keep an open mind and just watch as a spectator to learn from others.
Treat social media as a spectator sport. When I first watched football, I didn’t really understand what the rules were, and with the exception of the quarterback, I didn’t understand the roles of other players. But over a few months I learned a few rules here and there, and was able to figure out the rules with the help of the Internet. But i did it in chunks.
Once I did, I found watching football more entertaining, though I’m a hockey fan first and foremost. But I kept an open mind and stuck with it. You need to stick with social media, don’t abandon it. It won’t go away.
2) Choose a Network that You Would Enjoy Being On
Take your time and choose one network that you feel would allow you to stimulate conversations with people and will allow you to have fun doing it. For most of us, Facebook (or a similar platform like Friendster) was our first social network platform. This is the most common one because it allows us to keep in touch with friends.
If you genuinely care about what your friends are posting, or care about what they are doing, then this is a good platform to start. Start off being intimate, and if that means staying in touch with only 30 friends, then that’s all you need. Honestly keeping up with 400 isn’t all that fun. Take time to comment on people’s status if it’s of genuine interest to you.
Pinterest is a great social networking site if you love beautiful fashion, pictures of the most beautiful places in the world and you love seeing food. It’s also a great place if you happen to be into arts and crafts and need to sell goods. It’s expected that Pinterest will drive more traffic to websites than Twitter within a month or two of this blog posting.
The one advantage that Pinterest has over other networking sites is that content tends to have a long shelf life. If it’s an interesting picture or pin, as they call in Pinterest, then it can keep getting repinned again and again for months on end. And provide spikes in traffic in the most unexpected times.
Twitter is a great place to go and just chat and follow some of the people you most admire, and to start having conversations with people that you normally wouldn’t be able to reach. This is more of a conversational social network, and sharing knowledge that’s relevant to the people you want to attract is important.
But it can be a bit overwhelming, make sure you take it slow at first.
For this particular network, treat it casually to start and spend a few minutes a day to get a feel for the etiquette and if you feel there’s a conversation worth jumping into, then by all means, jump in.
If your find yourself a social media introvert, then this may not be the best social media platform to start with.
Linkedin, the ultimate social networking site for business professionals. This is a great place to connect with others that you may want to stay in contact with but don’t want to add to Facebook. This particular medium is good for making industry contacts and when targeted right can generate high quality leads. The mindset that people come with on LinkedIn is one of professional business, and less of cocktail chatter like Facebook and Twitter.
A great way to connect with others is to write recommendations for them on the site. Only do so if you are making a genuine recommendation. It’s such a great marketing tool, for our own website we find that the amount of time spent based on traffic coming in from LinkedIn was 8-9 minutes. While those that came in from other sources were 1-1.5 minutes.
Google Plus is starting to gain some momentum back, but has been described as a place more for techies and is quite male dominated. This is a great social network to reach out to influencers and have conversations with them because this is often the LEAST congested network for them.
Unlike the search function for Facebook, the search function on Google Plus will allow you to find communities, pages, and posts with ease and accuracy.
What’s also popular is Google Hangouts a tool where people can broadcast live talks, demonstrations or lectures, and you’re able to see people’s reaction and adjust accordingly. A great feature is also that Hangouts can be recorded as YouTube sessions automatically.
Generally social media falls under 3 categories, microblogging, these are sites like Twitter, Social Networking Sites like LinkedIn and Facebook that rely on status updates and longer profile creations , and visual networking sites like Pinterest, Flickr and Instagram.
The world of social media is huge, and isn’t limited to only those networks. Other popular networks include Tumblr which is a blogging platform that has gained great momentum among a younger generation who don’t find Facebook appealing. In China Sina Weibo is a social networking site that’s huge, but under the careful eye of the Chinese government. In Japan, Mixi is common to use.
The number of social media sites are in the hundreds are are listed here. I even just read that teens and tweens are now flocking to Pheed, which has received over 1 million users over a short period of time. What’s interesting to note is that digital natives and those that are in their teens are using social media on their mobile phones, since they don’t have a day job they aren’t likely to use a desktop to access their social networks.
3) What to do Next:
You have to treat your social networks the way you would when you move into a new town. It’s kind of scary, you may not know anybody and you have to build up a network of new friends. If you approach social media with the same mindset, and are very patient with it, you’ll find that you’ll make some excellent friends and networking acquaintances.
It does take time, and a lot of patience. And often, like real conversation in life, you most likely will need to be the initiator of those conversations. Learn to ask questions that peak people’s interest. Or comment on other people’s conversation. Most importantly don’t be passive for more than a week. Passive networkers don’t get known. Active networkers do.
4) Watch out for Social Media Fatigue:
Social media fatigue is quite serious, and it’s becoming part of the trend of people sitting and watching T.V. If you find that you’re getting overwhelmed from social media, then I would suggest you do and one thing.
1) Meet People. Nothing will replace social media like face to face conversation. It builds more trust than anything else.
2) Also go exercise. It will keep the blood in your brain going and help you stay alert.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of things, here are a few blogs I would recommend you read to get more in depth knowledge.
If you have any questions about social media or would like to know more of how we can help your brand be more engaged feel free to contact us at vince @ toptensocialmedia.com
Photo courtesy of: Vernhart