This is not a post trying to convince you that Social Media (or as I like to think of it, Social Communication) wont waste a lot of your time (certainly at the thrashing stage, as Seth Godin calls it).
But rather (I hope?) a framework on how you should try to configure Social Media to fit around your life and not the other way round.
First and foremost, let’s get one thing straight:
Social Media is not something that you can dip your toe in without finding a maelstrom of information that is amusing and thought-provoking.
You will initially feel compelled to read all of it, respond to or save it somewhere to be read at a later stage. The point is: if Social Media is going to mean something more than flim flam or hype, then you need to think smart and adopt some tactics to make it work for you.
If you don’t like computers then don’t bother. Stick with the telephone, letters or SMS.
Start with one or two objectives in mind. Don’t start with the platforms. You will waste so much time, just fiddling around, obsessing with the numbers and before you know where you are you will have been seduced by the slithe beast that is Social Media. The platforms can be decided once you decide on the objectives.
If you don’t like to express a view, engage in meaningful conversation (I don’t mind knowing a few times what foods you like but not every day) and are prepared to spend some time putting out material without thinking “What’s in it for me”, then you may find that you get disenchanted with Social Media pretty damn quick.
I have recommended to a number of people the book The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann. It is clearly a play on words but it has 5 laws of success the first of which states: “Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you receive in payment.” Think about it carefully. If you apply this rule to Social Media you won’t go far wrong. Seth Godin has also written about this in his latest book Linchpin.
If you sole aim is to make tonnes of money then think again. Yes there are some awesome success stories out there but the majority of people have not left paid employment to while away the hours on Twitter (get real).
Enjoy it. Think of it like any other conversation. If you went into every conversation with the attitude what’s in it for me then you ain’t going to make many friends.
Social media is not a substitute for meeting people.
Don’t adopt the Muhammad Ali expression: “Float like a butterfly; sting like a bee”, meaning you are not being genuine but rather looking to cultivate heaps of superficial relationships and then pounce. Far too often people have just started engaging (Twitter etc) and then boom, the sucker punch – if you want to know more about our services then subscribe here. No, Nooo, NOOOOO. The conversation and the Go-Giving must be the premise. If you think you can help because the other person asks then by all means promote yourself (elevator pitches should be named rocket to the moon pitches because they usually take that long – sigh).
You will often hear the term sales funnel. I would love to turn this around and use it as a mega horn. Now I am not saying, or rather as my good friend Bob Burg says: “It is not about Go-Takers”, but please don’t see Social Media as another form of outbound marketing which at the end of the day is a numbers game.
Be interesting. No let me amend that. Be yourself but don’t just talk about yourself. Allow your personality to come through and be prepared to go deep on some subjects.
Get yourself wired up to Google Reader – awesome as a facilitator of gathering all those RSS feeds. Do some searches and just start following the flow.
Start a blog (more on this to come). If you don’t know how then I will in a susequent post talk you through it but for now go and check out WordPress and dive in. Before you know where you are even without a scintilla of IT experience or confidence, you will find that you have created something. If you have a mate or want to pay someone to help then awesome but don’t think that an uber looking blog means you will get comments on you blog posts. It doesn’t.
Be prepared to do something regularly. Repitition is the mother of all learning and it is no different with Social Media.
Keep your crowd a little hungry. This was something that Scott Gould drummed into me.
Respond to comments on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook in good time. I could name a few sites who not only moderate the material but never and I mean never comment back. Sooner or later you will give up. The whole point of the experience is to have as many to many conversations as possible. The feeling I get with some of these sites is the same as the push feel of old media.
Turn the computer off or stop looking at your iPhone when there is family or friends time. Nothing irritates my wife more to see me constantly fretting about this tweet or that comment. Give yourself some down time.
Know your limitations. If you are stuck don’t be afraid to ask. You will find some very generous people on the net; even the superstars like to talk. Their egos are never as large as you think.
I could go on but the overriding point is that don’t let the tail wag the dog. You can always turn the computer off and do something else. I would be really interested to learn of your top tips for making the most of social media.