Monday, July 12, 2010

A reader writes: Help me get up to speed with social media

If you're an experienced social media communicator, read this post about helping newbies--then share your tips in the comments. But if you're feeling unsure of yourself and not sure where to start, you may be more like this reader, who writes:
I really enjoyed your newsletter. I am working furiously to "get up to speed" where social media is concerned. I have worked out of the country for the past year and stepped out of communications and into print publishing for the 3 years prior to that. I now feel that my industry has moved on without me and I am scrambling to catch up. I have LinkedIn, Face Book, and now (thanks to you) Google profiles online, and I have a new blog but I'm not sure I feel confident about my skills. Can you give me some guidance or resources to look into? Thanks again for a great resource for the professional communicator.
It's easy to feel that you've been caught behind the curve on social media.  Here's some guidance and a few resources to get you started:
  • Pick one network or medium and dive into that first:  If you've started a blog and are on Facebook or LinkedIn, that's great.  Pick one of them to focus on at first, maybe two. Read all the help information available on the site -- too many users fail to check the most basic information, and it shows. You can save loads of time by reading the help sections, and if there are user/help forums, check those, too.  Then try posting:  On your blog, work up to posting two to three times a week if you can; on Facebook, look for friends and say hello; on LinkedIn, find former coworkers and connect. Look at everything. Be curious.
  • Don't feel like you have to post all the time. Listen first, then join in where you can.
  • Make a schedule:  If you are concerned this will take all of your time, remember you're in control of social media, not the reverse.  Making a schedule--an hour a day, perhaps, to start--or setting a timer may help you keep your explorations manageable.
  • Follow some leaders:  For blogging, check out Problogger.com and Copyblogger.com; Problogger (aka Darren Rowse) also publishes Twitip.com about Twitter; you'll find material for getting started on all these sites.  Read Mashable.com for a firehose's worth of social media news and updates, or follow its threads on the topics on which you're focusing.
  • Follow some followers:  Don't worry if you don't have any yet, you will--even when blogging. Pay attention to those who are following you, and learn from them whenever you can.  Ask them what they want to know--it's a great way to build content ideas and keep your ear to the ground.
  • Go to a meetup:  Check Meetup.com for meetups in your area related to social media. It's a great way to find others with similar interests.  Your professional groups also may be offering speakers and programs about social media--sign up for those, too.
Here are some posts from my blog that you may find useful, starting out:
Enter your email address in the box at right to get For Communications Directors, the newsletter this reader liked, then head over to the don't get caught page on Facebook to continue the discussion. And share your tips for social media newcomers in the comments!

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