Saturday, June 13, 2015

5 Steps Towards Getting Started in Social Media

I love social media. That comes as a surprise to no one, I’m sure! I have met some of my closest friends through social media – some that I have never even met in person….yet.  I have also brought brands to acquisition by building up their social media networks and taking that marketing offline. There are so many ways to use social media daily both in your life and your business, you really are cheating yourself out of some truly amazing relationships and experiences if you’re not invested in it.

If I were to tell you to go learn how to play guitar, you’d know how to do it. You have seen people play guitar, you know what a guitar looks like, and you have the ultimate goal already decided: play guitar. You know you could find people that already play that you admire or are friends with that you could ask, “What kind of guitar do you suggest I get?” or “Do you have any teachers in this area that you’d recommend I start taking classes from?” You could even get onto YouTube or find another source of How to Videos, and start immediately. You wouldn’t overthink it, and though it might seem overwhelming at first, you’d just start.

I believe you look at getting started in social media much the same way. You have seen people do it, you know plenty of people that do it and do it well that you can ask for advice, and though it seems overwhelming, you are ready to just start. The hardest part about starting something new, is that you don’t know what you don’t know, so you don’t always know what to ask people, or how to ask for help. Luckily, social media is one of the biggest topics these days, and you can Google and read articles and advice ad infinitum on how to start, and how to create your first social media plan. Overthinking it is natural, and while you will tell yourself many times to simplify your thinking on it, it still creeps up, even years down the road. That’s ok!

Though you didn’t quite ask for MY advice, you’re still reading this blog, so I’m more than happy to share how I would recommend you get started. While this is in no means an exhaustive list, I hope it is a great jumping off point to get you started on an amazing adventure!

Step 1: Examine Your Motivations & Set Goals

When I ‘want’ to do something, I always ask myself a bunch of questions before I start. Then, I use those answers to help me make a plan. At this point, you might want to ask yourself:

·        Why do you want to get into social media?
·        Do you want to use social media to stay in touch with people? (This is how I got started, I’d moved from Chicago to Los Angeles, and found social media was a great way to stay in touch with people from back home)
·        Are you going to use social media personally or for your business?
·        Do you want to be seen as an “influencer?” (I’d examine that motive, and suggest not going into it with that specific goal in mind)
·        Do I want to help people?
·        Do I have something to offer?
·        Am I introducing a new product to the market/creating brand awareness?
·        Would I like to create more loyal customers?

Then you will want to ensure you have the TIME and resources to put towards achieving your goals. If you are starting this for a business, you might need to hire people that have experience working in social media if you, yourself do not have the time to create meaningful relationships.

Step 2: Pick Your Platforms

Choose the platforms that best fit your goals. You don’t have to be everywhere, and in fact, you don’t WANT to be everywhere or spread yourself too thin. When choosing the ‘right’ social media networks for YOU, remember that it’s personal to each person. What works for me might never work for you.

The most important way to pick a platform, in my experience, has been the same whether I’m using social media personally or for business. Find where your people already are. If it’s for your personal use, what platforms are your friends using? Where can you find most of them? If this is a business account you are creating, where are your customers talking about your brand the most?

Step 3: Make a Profile on Your Social Networks

This is where the questions in Step 1 will come in handy. Once you have examined your motivations, only you know how clear they are. When you are filling out your profiles, I would suggest being as open, honest and transparent as possible. While that might not be for everyone, I find it works best FOR everyone. Would YOU want to interact with someone and begin developing a deep relationship, only to find out months down the road that they aren’t in any way who you thought they were?

I tend to naturally write like I speak, so I use language in my profiles that sound like the same ‘me’ you would meet if you were to pick up the phone and call me. I think that helps people relate and find similarities to me, and that (hopefully!) makes it easier to engage with me.

The best part about creating your profile? Once you hit “publish,” it doesn’t immediately get put into the Smithsonian. You are always able to adapt, pivot and change any part of your profiles at any time. As you change, your profiles and network will as well.

Step 4: Start Posting!

We can look at content strategy in another blog, but for now, as you are first starting out, it’s important to dive in. You will need to find your voice and what works best for you about what posts resonate with your community, what times they are online and able to see what you are posting, how many times each day you should post, etc. Have you ever tried to learn a new language? I’ll bet you didn’t do it simply by reading books about it – I’d be willing to bet that you learned the most once you just started trying to converse with people in that new language. Social Media, being online, isn’t as different as people make it sound from your life offline.

There are as many posts about what to post, when and where as there are people using social media. While some of that could be helpful, what is going to be MOST helpful I believe, is to hear this: Find what works for YOU.

Look at studies. Some will say visuals get more interactions than any others. Some will say use 11 hashtags on Instagram. Some will say never use visuals and don’t use more than 3 hashtags on Instagram. You get to choose what you will follow and you will learn what “to do” the more you use each platform.

What works for ME? I try to ask myself for each post:

·        Is this helpful?
·        Is this relevant?
·        Is this useful?

Then, I listen. A LOT. People on social media are some of the most honest when it comes to giving you’re their thoughts, feedback and advice. If you honestly listen, without judgment, you can find out whatever you need to know.

Step 5: Always Be Testing

You will hear a LOT about “A/B Testing,” to me, that means “Always Be Testing.” Remember when you set goals in Step 1? How will you ever know if you have achieved your goals, if you don’t analyze what you are doing?

There are free tools you can use to analyze each post and there are more in-depth paid resources out there. Again, find what works for YOU. I have start-up clients that don’t have the budget for fancy reporting tools, and we’ve been able to get just as much information out of the free options.

What analytics should you be looking at? Again, this depends on your goal. Some that you might want to look at are:

·        Shares, retweets, favorites, likes and comments
·        Do you get more interaction on posts when you use an image or when you don’t?
·        Does using a video in your post help get more engagement, than simply posting text?
·        What are the top 3 topics your community responds to most?
·        It this working? Are you getting closer to your original goals?

I’d love to hear how YOU got into Social Media, what works best for you, and what you would add to this list! Please tweet me @lucyrk78 or post a comment and let me know?



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