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Before You Join the Social Media Party

Over at Brazen Careerist, Matt talks about what it takes for an individual to be successful in social media. If you think you'd like to join the rest of us using social media, or worse, if you feel competitive pressure to use Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media tool, please consider these 15 steps. I encourage you to read Matt's original post, which is very insightful, or click through to my paraphrase. Whenever I actually intend to use advice, I re-write it in my own language, so that it becomes part of my thinking. Thanks, Matt!

Brazen Careerist: Invest For Success: 15 Steps To Effective Social Media Marketing And Better Blogging, 2009-Oct-27, by Matt Cheuvront

Your blog and Social Media presence is an INVESTMENT – An investment that takes patience and perseverance to see real success. It’s also an investment with goals and benchmarks that will continually adapt and change.

Theresa's version of Matt's 15 Steps:

  1. First build credibility by sharing items of value. Laughs are valuable, as are tips about local events and businesses, recipes and photos. (Many a social media career was launched by the one who took the snapshots and posted them.) Information about what you're doing is valuable if you'd like to be joined in the activity by friends and acquaintances. Otherwise, not so much.
  2. The best way to get in the swim of things is listen to others and watch for the chance to add information or support. Giving out compliments is a good way to get started, but follow Dale Carnegie's advice and search out things you sincerely appreciate about others.
  3. Step outside your comfort zone but be yourself. This sounds contradictory, but it's a great insight from Matt. Being in social media means living out in the open.
  4. Share your plans and ideas, then invite feedback. And be sure and say thanks for the feedback.
  5. Be a person first, a marketer second. If all you ever talk about is what you're selling, you will quickly start to sound like a spammer.
  6. Make your content findable by using popular terms and tags. If your social media presence if vital to your business, you should study SEO practices, but don't overwork them to the point they distort your voice. 
  7. Build relationships. You'll know that social media is working for you when you often end up in conversations--it's a real 'a-ha' moment if you're new to social media.
  8. Set goals, check progress and revise goals. Social media is very chaotic by nature and if you don't know why you're there, you may end someplace you don't like very much.
  9. Schedule the time and keep your appointments with your own social media tools. If your presence is unpredictable, people will not care if you disappear.
  10. Develop a voice. Use slang or don't use slang. Have a specific set of interests, which can shift over time, but remember they give people a picture of you. We hope it's the real you.
  11. Be a source of help. A very wise person once said give away everything you can afford to part with.
  12. Be simple, straightforward and easy to work with. Post a bio. Offer cross links between your different social tools. Don't let things get too cluttered.
  13. Respect your audience's time and attention. Twitter caught on because many people discovered that reading long, meandering blog posts wasn't any fun. Unfortunately, now many people are posting very cryptic tweets. Try to be brief, specific and memorable.
  14. Expect down-cycles. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
  15. Invest the time, or let us go. All those of us who have experienced significant benefits from social media made a big investment of our time. We expect you to do the same, or quit whining. Nobody promised you a rose garden. (At least, not me.)