Clients say it. Your co-workers say it. You utter it to yourself now and again.
Whether you’re a seasoned social media vet or just diving in, social media can definitely be a whirlwind to tackle. Heck, just finding a consistent, agreed upon definition of “social media” can be quite the challenge in and of itself.
It certainly would be nice if there was an established methodology and single handbook to teach a newbie everything you need to know about social media. As humans, we find comfort in routine and knowing that there is a start, finish and ultimate sense of accomplishment. BUT, luckily, we also thrive heavily on creativity, challenge and the unknown.
Social media lends itself to the latter mindset. It’s important to remember that the foundation of social media revolves around basic principals of human communication and interaction. Once you have a solid understanding of tool functionality, your success in using social media becomes highly dependent on developing strategic, creative methods of outreach.
But, where does one even start?
Don’t Think You Need to Eat the Whole Pie
Social media is best served up in slices. You’re not going to learn everything in one day, one week or one year. Learning social media is a neverending process. As the Web grows and technology changes, so will our online communication patterns. Thus, don’t expect to “learn social media” and be done.
If you are just trying to find a starting point with social media there is plenty you can do to increase your social media savvy. Here are three possible ideas:
1) Read Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day, Groundswell and Social Media is a Cocktail Party. All three books will provide a solid foundation for understanding the social media landscape.
2) Find 5 blogs (3 professional/client interest, 2 personal interest) and study these blogs for 20 minutes each morning (SMUG, David Mullen and Dave Fleet would be a good start for your professional blogs). Watch how the comment flow impacts the dialogue of each post. Introduce yourself to the author and eventually begin commenting yourself. If you can’t learn to effectively listen and monitor, you don’t stand a chance in fully grasping social media.
3) Pick two tools and tackle them hard. My recommendation would be to choose between LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. Don’t just set up profiles but study the wealth of published knowledge about how to use these tools strategically. Research, research, research. Once you feel you have a solid grasp on one tool, try a new one. It’s not until you are actively engaged on these platforms that you will come to understand how they can used as key channels of communication for your business or client.
It doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Step back and enjoy each slice of the pie. Be warned, before you know it, social media addiction will take over.
Scott – thanks for the kind words. I’m not sure I belong in the same company as Dave Fleet, but I’m not mad about it. 🙂
You’re right. Stepping into the social media space can seem like a head-spinning whirlwind. You’ve given some great tips here to take digestible bites out of the pie, which is a very good thing. If you try to eat the whole pie at once you’ll probably just end up with social media indigestion.
But at the same time, for brands at least, I think the ultimate goal is to use all facets. I think it makes sense to take it step-by-step for personal use, but for brands I think once one step is taken, web users expect the usual host of options. Teaming twitter with youtube would be much more effective than using only one.
Jon – assuming, of course, that folks you want to interact with are on those channels, right? There’s no reason to show up everywhere if your social media-using customers are only on message boards.
I’m sure that you know and agree with that. Just wanted to point it out for others who may read that comment and assume their brands should be everywhere. You should show up at the water coolers that attract the people you’d like to speak with, after all.
Great clarification David. It’s most important to drill down and find those targeted, niche communities, the folks that are going to be most passionate about spreading the word about your brand or issue on your behalf. Have a Ning group with only 100 members but it’s a very active, engaging group? Run with it. That’s a foundation of content creators and energizers that you can charge up in a variety of ways. Quality over quantity.