a) you are aware that social media is important but are not really ‘doing it’;
b) you are trying to get involved in social media;
c) you don’t have a clue how to go about it.
Does this apply to you?
If any of these statements apply to you, read on. I can direct you on the right path towards building your social media presence.
You have already taken the first step to increase your social media knowledge by reading this post. You are aware that you should get involved in social media, but you are not entirely sure how to do it.
Good news is, help is at hand. Internet is a marvellous source of advice on how to take first steps on social media scene. The first thing you need to do, is to go on Google or another search engine and type in ‘how to start in social media’ or ‘getting started on social networks’ or something similar. Pages upon pages of results will appear.
Disclaimer: I am not related to Google in any way and I do not mean to endorse it or suggest it’s better than other search engines. I mention it as an example, simply because I happen to use it. OK, it is my favourite search engine, but you need to make up your own mind.
Your next step, very logically, will be selecting a few promising search results and visiting websites that offer free ‘easy to start’ guides or tutorials. Some will be in a form of downloadable ebooks, others will offer links to video tutorials. I would suggest you go for a little bit of both.
If you don’t have any social networks accounts yet, decide on one or two networks you would like to join and set up an account. You could, for example, start with Google+ and Twitter, or possibly Facebook. My advice, though, would be to leave Facebook for a bit, until you are a bit more comfortable with the idea of social networks, as it gives you a lot of exposure and you may feel a bit uneasy about it.
Google+ and Twitter are great for complete beginners because they don’t ask you to fill in every single personal detail when you set up your account. You can use a nickname on them, so if you get a few things wrong, it won’t matter too much – nobody will know it was you who said or did something embarrassing.
Once you’ve set up one or two accounts, start using the tips from the guides and tutorials you have downloaded and just enjoy experimenting!
Now – back to the original question:
How not to drown in social media?
First of all, make sure that you focus only on one or two social networks at first. Do not get tempted to go for all of them – you will simply not be able to keep up.
Some of the most popular social networking sites include Twitter, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Flickr, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, Klout, YouTube and Snapchat, to name a few. They are all different and it will take time to learn how to use them properly. Even if you were able to learn very quickly, maintaining your presence on numerous platforms would be far too time consuming.
Secondly – chose a small number of websites/people you want to learn about social media from. Personally, I would not go for more than three.
The internet is a vast source of information and if you were to grab everything that’s available, you would simply drown in it all. It is possible to spend days just downloading various social media freebies – you can take my word for it, I have first-hand experience of doing that ! Don’t forget that you have to read all of these things, too, not just stuff your ‘downloads’ folder with them.
A few examples of useful websites for beginners
Some examples of social media guides useful for beginners include socialquickstarter.com, webtrends.about.com and moz.com. They are pitched at different audiences and cover different types of things, so you should be able to find something relevant to you. Plus remember – there are loads of other websites of this type you could use.
Take things easy…
All the ‘how to’ guides to social media are a bit like school science textbooks: they all teach largely the same curriculum, but perhaps with slightly different emphasis on different topics. Also, similarly to school textbooks, some are better at explaining things than others. Just like with buying books – browse through a few and focus on two or three that appeal to you most. Information overload can be nearly as debilitating as ignorance, but tends to be very frustrating, while perfect ignorance is often just blissful…
Follow these first few easy steps and your confidence in using social media will soon grow. If I could do it, so can you!