Are you thinking about getting started in social media personally? Don’t worry, you are not alone. You are not the last one to drag your feet a bit and jump on the social bandwagon!
But if you are still holding on to some of the common excuses such as “I’m too old,” (bullsh*t) “I don’t have time,” (bullsh*t) “I don’t see the value,” (bullsh*t) or “I don’t know how…” (why I wrote this post) then let me tell you that those excuses are just defense mechanisms stopping you from one of the greatest journeys you will take in your professional career.
In this post, I will tell you about my own journey, documented for all to see, as well as some new tips and tricks to help you get started…
Step 1: Define Your Objectives
This might be the toughest step of all since it includes the kind of reflection that today’s fast-paced world makes really challenging. But ask yourself the big questions. In my first blog I answered “Why am I in Marketing?“ even before defining “The Objectives for the B2B Marketing Insider blog.” I documented these publicly in order to motivate myself to stick to the commitment.
I also suggest spending some time thinking about what it means to support your personal brand. Google your name and see how you do. If you have a relatively common name, or have to compete with HuffingtonPost writers and 2 Harvard professors named Michael Brenner like me, than you have a very concrete goal: get to page 1 or the top 3 listings in search. (I’m still working on it!)
Finally, your objectives should include a definition of your target audience: who are you speaking to? Finding your “voice” will be part of the journey but knowing who you are talking to and why will help determine much of what you do in the following steps.
Step 2: Commit
In Finding The Time To Tweet or Blog? I talk about building social media into your daily routine in the same way you find the time for email and lunch. We live in a social world and it is quickly becoming inexcusable for marketers who are sitting on the sidelines. And the road to success in social media comes from small amounts of time applied each and every day. And while persistence is the path to social media success, social media can be a huge time drag. So make a commitment, but also put a limit on your time to maintain the highest level of productivity.
You should also realize that this will not be easy. I find that I need to take a break every once in a while just to reset my battery and get a fresh perspective. I take weekends off (usually). I take vacations (usually). But sometimes I forget to let it go for a while and then I end up with a Social Media Hangover.
Step 3: Setup Your Social Accounts
I would start with LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and complete your profiles to 100% of their potential. Include a professional-looking photo of you looking straight ahead and recognizable. Add your current title and links to all your other social profiles. And you can add other social tools as you go. Here are my profiles on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook.
Next, you should spend a portion of each day or set aside some time each week to connect with current and old colleagues and influential or interesting people. There are tools in each platform to help you. Here I outlined How To Get Started On Twitter and 10 Tips For Twitter Success. Some of the best advice someone gave me regarding who to connect with was just to “follow my interests.”
If blogging is part of your social media journey, here are 8 Tips to Get Started in Blogging.
Step 4: Find Your Voice
This is the toughest part of all. It is a journey, not a destination. It will evolve. Depending on the day, I am feeling more or less confident in my own.
It starts with simply listening. Follow others lead. See how they interact. It cost nothing to send some time each day simply looking for clues into how successful social marketers behave in social channels.
One of the first big lessons I learned was that there is a Myth of Business vs. Personal Profiles in Social Media. The thought that you can be two separate people at home and at work is baloney. The illusion of a separation between the two is made apparent as soon as you start “friending” work colleagues or linking with family.
Social media is about forming real relationships with real people. We all know how to do this. But now it is just happening in a digital space. This presents a huge opportunity for us as people, as marketers, and as business executives.
And if you are worried about what your boss will think, tell them this: you serve your company best by being a positive and active member of the social community. You act as a brand ambassador. And your success in driving your personal brand helps the image of your company.
Step 5: Soar!
In the 10 Traits of Successful Social Marketers I talk about the importance of serving your target audience, “walking the walk” in social media, being a role model for others and being a real person by sharing your personal journey. In the end, it is just about you being you and sharing your talent with the world. Tell Stories. Connect with interesting people. Have fun!
I would not worry about how many followers, friends or connections you have. I would not worry about your Klout score. Instead, look at the big picture and see if the actions you are taking and the time you are spending are helping yo to achieve your objectives.
And while I am no expert, I hope this has been even a little helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me directly and I would be happy to share more of the things I have learned in my ongoing social journey. Please tell me your thoughts in the comments below or connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.