Taking your first steps into social media

foal shyly looking out from behind its mare

As a marketer, social media fascinates me. I am enjoying my adventures of discovery, even as I fear being sucked into a vortex of unending links and loops. The best approach has been to schedule times to check in and post on my social media profiles. Social media offers ample distractions, but it is possible to be quite effective in a few hours a week.

Social media has a learning curve, and I have found that only by getting my feet wet can I see my next steps.

Need a guide?

Here are some first steps to take: 

Search Google or Technorati to find a few blogs that interest you. Professional associations and publications often host good blogs. A passion for the subject matter is critical, otherwise social media is too much trouble!

Sift through the choices to find valuable content. There are gems out there amidst the junk.

Observe the conversation; learn the context.

Leave a comment when you can add value to the discussion. Add value before you promote yourself.

Pay a return visit the next day or week to see what else has been said.

Reply to the comments on your comment.

Rinse and repeat to learn the landscape of social networking.

A March 2010 report on Mashable said nearly 20% small business owners are using social media for their business – primarily Facebook and LinkedIn. Less than 40% were blogging. Adoption doubled in past year – growing, but by no means past the curve. Not too late to benefit from social media.

Still reluctant?

Consider this: over 500 million users spend 700 billion minutes on Facebook every month. It is how they keep up with their friends and family. It’s how they do business. They could be keeping up with you!

What is the best way you’ve found to learn about new technology?

Some of this content first appeared in “Why A/E firms should care about social media” in the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce.

Comments

6 Responses to “Taking your first steps into social media”
  1. Judy Dunn says:

    Barbara,

    You are wise to schedule your social media time. Because, yes, it can overtake one’s life.

    I just recently jumped into the biz use of Facebook with both feet. I wasn’t convinced on the ROI, but have completely changed my mind on that. I’m getting a lot of traffic from Facebook to my blog.

    Thanks for sharing these clearly laid and actionable steps!

  2. Patty K says:

    Wow. I spend so much time on social media that it always brings me back down to earth when I hear stats like only 20% of businesses are using it. Which I can verify for myself when I go out into “the real world” and discover that most of the people I meet have never heard of Twitter.

    I think you’ve given some excellent advice about how to learn about technology. You could apply what you said about blogging to Twitter or Facebook or (probably) LinkedIn. I would add this: play around with a few of these technologies and find the one you like the most, then concentrate on that one (at least at first). It’s easy to sucked into the vortex and spend a *lot* of time keeping up with all your “social media presences.” And it can be confusing.

    Social media can be fun…and a great way to meet people and promote your business. I have “friends” that I’ve only met on Twitter or Facebook or through my blog.

  3. Barbara says:

    Patty -

    Thanks for your comment. You make excellent points.

    It’s a reality check to consider 1 in 5 small businesses use social media. When you wear all the hats, it can be daunting to add one more thing. Yet, this low cost access to millions of people is an unprecedented opportunity.

    I agree that SM can be fun, and that experimenting to find one that fits best is a sound strategy for starting out.

  4. Barbara says:

    Judy -

    Thanks for sharing your success with using Facebook to increase traffic to your blog. I’d love to know more about what you did.

  5. I agree with Judy’s comment above, it is wise to schedule/time-block because otherwise, all of these things can take over your schedule!

    I like the process that you’ve outlined above. It’s a great strategy to start by listening first. In other words, open up a feedreader and subscribe to other people’s blogs to see what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. Then, how can you do what they’re doing in your own unique way. Learn from others and apply those experiences to your own marketing (with your voice).

  6. Barbara says:

    @Ricardo – You’ve added a good description of the mechanics of making friends with reading blogs. Thanks for contributing!

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