More and more, I am hearing from my colleagues that they need to get into social media but have no idea where to start. With all the options available, it can be overwhelming and time-consuming as you grapple with the information.
A couple of years ago, that was me. I struggled with this form of marketing and questioned the merit of getting involved. Today I am an active participant in this arena and have tailored my involvement to suit my business goals.
My advice? Get started but start small.
1. Choose one medium -- be it LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. If you do
them all at once, you run the risk of being overwhelmed and spinning your wheels.
Pinterest, for example, is somewhat addictive and fun, but unless you have a product to sell, it may not be the best for ROI.
2. Go where your people are. Start where you are most likely to connect with prospective clients and customers.
3. Observe for a while so you get a sense of what is said and shared.
4. Join groups and participate. With LinkedIn, for example, sign up for different groups and respond to discussions or questions. Get yourself known.
5. Share information and useful articles you've written to build your credibility as an expert. Consider starting a blog.
6. Don't worry if you don't write. There is a wealth of information out there. Circulate other people's material (with appropriate attribution). They will be grateful that you've spread their words. Or you could contract someone to write for you.
7. Find useful material. Research industry online magazines and sign up for Internet newspapers on the topics of interest or relevant to your business.
8. Build your reputation. The more you supply useful information, the more likely you will be added to and mentioned in other online publications.
9. Consider starting your own Internet newspaper. Using a service like paper.li, you can easily formulate a weekly or daily newspaper. For a nominal monthly fee, you can also personalize and select the content and layout.
10. It's not all about you. Yes, you can promote your own programs, services and products, but if that is all you do, you won't attract the following you want. Just as in face-to-face networking, givers gain. Try to make it 80 per cent about your industry and 20 per cent about your business.
11. Say thank you. If someone takes the trouble to retweet or share your material, say thank you.
12. Follow others. While you don't have to follow everyone who follows you, you do have to build a fair number of followers, otherwise you will appear self-serving and only interested in your own gains.
13. Be selective. Avoid sending out invitations to someone you barely know just because you think he would look good on your list of connections. It has to mean more.
14. Consider video. YouTube is one of the strongest players in social media. Eighty per cent of people prefer to watch a video, rather than read text.
15. Monitor your time. It can be really easy to spend too much time on social media. Establish a routine and time limit, that way you'll become more efficient and selective with what you do.
Social media is not just a trend, it is here to stay. It needs to be one of the marketing tools in your toolbox.