The Social Media Reluctant
A little over 15 years ago, I hired my first employee. I felt that this milestone of entrepreneurial activity deserved a huge round of applause and government support. I made an appointment, and visited my local SBA office with anticipation that government agencies would be waiting for me with massive loans and grants.
Instead, what I found was a pretty savvy small business advisor whose advice was that I should create a business plan. “Craziness,” I thought! How is a person supposed to run a new business, and have the time to “plan?” Of course, today, I wouldn’t think of starting or running a business without a comprehensive business plan.
I hear a similar incredulity in the voice of small entrepreneurs that I meet today when I talk about social media. “How can I run a business and do social media?” When you’re in the thick of running your own business, how can you possibly pause to join a Twitter conversation about some current banality?
My own company has been on a steady path of 30-40% year-over-year growth for over five years. A fair third of that growth last year was derived from relationships that originated in social media. How could I not have had the time to create those relationships? In retrospect, all of the time I spent on Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms was time well spent and even as important as paying the electric bill.
I understand that different people tap into social media differently. There are those who get sucked into the little affirmations they receive, and even get addicted. They might be sneaking glances at their smart phone under the table, or checking their Twitter account from the loo.
There are those that find it a chore, and would even prefer if others took care of all those pesky Facebook updates. While people in the addicted-to-social category might have difficulty in funneling their efforts into activities that fuel business, the reluctant users of social media may not even see the sense of it all. For those of you who fall in this reluctant category, the following could be an approach for you to enter the world of social media that fits your temperament, and allows you to benefit from the enormous possibilities right alongside your more social-media-friendly counterparts.
Become a Consumer First
To be successful with social media, you don’t have to jump right into the middle of it all and start yakking it up. Instead, find and regularly read a handful of bloggers that mean something to you. You could bookmark those blogs and just visit them every few days, or you could use an app like Pulse or Feedly [http://cloud.feedly.com/#welcome]. I have Pulse loaded onto my iPad, which I can actually read while pedaling away on my stationary bike, although recently they added a web version, too [http://www.pulse.me]].
Find Your Inspirations
Find the bloggers that mean the most to you. I’ll read anything that dana boyd, Avinash Kaushik, or David Aaker write. (And I’m including a longer list of my must-follows at the bottom of this post). For you, it’s likely to be someone complete different – the main point is that you search out and find those individuals that mean something to you. Then, keeping up with their blog posts is anything but a chore.
Where You Should Be
You might feel a natural inclination towards a particular social platform on which to place your emphasis. Consider the social platforms in these terms:
Twitter – Geographically local communities are often be strong on Twitter, and if you want to connect with people geographically disperses but who share particular interests. This can be a great place to create new connections that you extend in other social platforms and in real life.
Facebook – Facebook is great for building up connections with people that are friends and friends-of-friends. As the most used social media platform, it tends to be the de facto choice for consumer marketing – thus if you’re dealing with consumers, Facebook is a must-be place.
LinkedIn – LinkedIn has been undergoing massive change, and has become a robust social platform in its own right. If you’re in the B2B arena, LinkedIn can be highly effective. It’s also a great venue for building out a thought leadership approach to marketing.
GooglePlus – Since Google+ replaced Google Local, if your business has a physical address that customer’s visit; it’s imperative to have a Google Plus page. There are also tie-ins with your authority as an author if you are a blogger. Meanwhile, as G+ grows, it presents many opportunities to connect with authoritative individuals in niche areas who might otherwise be difficult to connect with.
Pinterest – if you sell things, especially clothes, household wares, or anything of visual interest, you’ll want to be on Pinterest. There are other approaches to using the platform that are useful to others – but if you’re in the group I just described, you’ll gain a lot of value here.
Schedule basic activities
Once you’ve come to understand the best place in social media for you to participate, create a routine for yourself. It might be a half and hour every other day, or a full hour each single morning. Every social platform has components made up of your profile, your connections, content, and engagement. In the beginning, you’re going to want to focus on making your profile everything it should be. Then, you’ll want to make connections. Spend five to ten minutes in each session just building out your connections. Slowly, with time, you can start to share your own content or share content that you’ve discovered in your own reading.
The real magic in social media happens in the engagement. That’s where you actually share information back and forth with someone. Being social is deeply embedded in our brains. When people are social with one another, they share, they gift, they get feelings of well being, and they develop trust. All of this is at the center of doing business.
If you follow my prescription of seeking out and reading the most relevant individuals, you’ll find that with time, you’ll want to respond. And over time, people will respond back. Before you know it, you’ll be social.
Ric Dragon is the CEO and chief strategist for DragonSearch, a leading niche player in internet marketing from search to social. He is the author of the Dragonsearch Online Marketing Manual (McGraw Hill 2011) and Social Marketology (McGraw Hill 2012). In addition to being an artist and a jazz drummer, Dragon has been a speaker at events around the world including Social Media World, SMX ...
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