How to Love Social Media (And Get Great Results)
A guest post by Ali Hale of Aliventures.
You’re probably being told by every social media guru that you need to connect with your customers and clients … on every single new start-up site on the net. Yet, frankly, you’ve got more important things to do than spend hours of your business day trying desperately to build up a following on Twitter, to painstakingly maintain your fan page on Facebook and to upload amusing videos of the company cat to YouTube.
Rather than making social media into a big timesink, headache and effort for yourself, learn to love it and have fun. (Hint: you’ll see better results this way too.)
Don’t Think “Marketing Tool”
Guess what, the big clue about social media is in the name: it’s social. People are going to tune you out, ignore you or block you if you keep trying to push stuff at them. And why shouldn’t they? They aren’t there to shop, they’re hanging out with friends, killing a few minutes with some light entertainment, or looking for some new and interesting people to connect with.
If you see social media as a great marketing tool or, worse, some sort of magic fix – it’s not going to work for you. Hang out, chill out, Tweet something amusing about your day, list your favourite bands on Facebook. Be yourself, rather than a blank business face.
Start With Your Existing Network
If you’re new to social media, or looking to dip your toes in a bit deeper, don’t get paralysed by the number of choices available. Look to your existing networks – friends or colleagues – and see what they’re into.
I use Facebook because my college friends started on it years ago. I’m highly active on Twitter because all the bloggers I know (and love) use it. I have plenty of friends and followers because I started out with people I already interacted with – rather than signing up to a site where I knew no-one.
Find Something You Love
Social media is a catch-all name for a whole bunch of different sites and ways of interacting. Although you’ll want to listen to some expert advice, don’t feel that you’ve got to pour your time into a site which bores you.
You might find that you love all the games, the detailed information and the fancy features of Facebook. Or you might really enjoy the conversations and the light-hearted banter on Twitter. You may find that you use Delicious or StumbleUpon all the time because they’re handy, or you’re a regular on Digg or Reddit because they let you know what the buzz is.
Don’t Try to be Everywhere
Once you’ve found a couple of sites you love, stick with those as your primary social media focuses. You might want to create accounts on a dozen or so sites, but you don’t even have to log into those sites again to make good use of them – just ensure your profile has a link to your blog, website or to another social media site (like Twitter) where you are active.
It’s better to build up a strong, responsive group of contacts on one site than to spread your efforts across twenty, gaining only a few fans on each.
However you use social media … remember it’s there to be enjoyed! Treat it as something to have fun with, rather than a marketing tool or a magic bullet – and you’ll have fun and get results.
Ali Hale can be found all over the blogosphere, but her home base is at Aliventures where she blogs about getting more from life. Her posts have been described as “inspiring” and “just what I needed!” She makes her living blogging, and is the author of the popular Staff Blogging Course, a downloadable self-study guide to becoming a paid blogger.