The Business of Social Media :: Part III

If you haven’t jumped into the swirling social media waters, the prospect of learning how to use yet another set of tools might be daunting.  To help you on your way, I’ve provided some tips below that should give you a good basis to build on.

This is a quick list of five tips, but know that this is just a start. The variety of possibilities is limited only by your imagination.

Tip #1 – Integrate

Like we’ve seen with every new communication medium that has come along over the years, the ‘new’ ways don’t necessary provide a wholesale replacement for the ‘old’ ways.  Instead, you’ll find the most success in integrating and aligning your social media efforts within your overall strategy that includes the more traditional channels.

After all, the introduction of television advertising didn’t kill print ads, nor did the rise of web sites.  Instead, we’ve seen greater success with the use of new communication channels that is complementary existing modes. While approaches certainly did change, those that have mixed the new methods in with the old with well-defined goals have prospered.

Your voice and your messages should match what your customers or readers find in other channels. Consistency remains important.

And that right there is the one of the biggest keys.

Tip #2 – Be Authentic

Regardless of the channels that you use, you have to be authentic in your writing. If you aren’t, your readers will know and most will be turned off by that.

What does that mean?

Don’t adopt a demeanor that isn’t natural to your personality. A sickly sweet, ‘I’m always happy’ vibe won’t feel right to your readers if that doesn’t match you or your business.

Do use humor where it makes sense. Readers will be more likely to remember you if they can associate it with a good feeling. However, be careful, since we don’t always share the same idea of what is funny.

Do write for your audience. That’s always been the first rule of any piece of writing, and that remains unchanged regardless if you’re writing 140 words or 140 pages.

Tip #3 – Get Help

No, I’m not talking about that kind of help. No appointments and couches are necessary, unless you work best from your couch.

In this case, getting help means finding tools that will make your life easier.  All of the social media platforms provide their own interfaces, but it’s the additional tools that will help you tie all of your channels together.

I’ll admit, it’s tougher to keep my information channels updated when they’re not integrated into my tools. Yes, Google+, I’m talking to you. The harder it is to complete your task, the less likely it is that you’ll finish it, so don’t make it hard.

I’ve gotten great results from Hootsuite, which allows me to share information in multiple channels (like Twitter and Facebook) in one place. They support a variety of channels, with the ability to schedule times for your posts so that you can send your message at a pre-defined point in the future. Hootsuite also allows you to set up multiple users to manage content (most often using the paid version) and has added Google+ for paid subscribers, which I’m expecting to see filter to the free version.

Even if your goal is to follow and choose conversations to participate in, tools play an important role.  There are many other options, so don’t hesitate to give a few a test drive. Most will provide a web-based interface along with support for the major mobile platforms so that you can stay in tune while on the go.

Tip #4 – Learn from Others

If you haven’t figured it out already, you’re not alone. Find resources that will help guide you. Use the experiences of others to your advantage and you’ll save yourself time, especially when trying to figure out the right solution to your situation.

Don’t forget to look at what others are doing. Find similar people or businesses for ideas about what and what not to do. You don’t have to copy others, but it’s certainly easier to generate ideas when you’re not staring at a blank slate.

Tip #5 – Do

Go. Move. Act.

Pick any word you want, but don’t stand still. Chances are that your competition is already moving, but that’s not the only reason.

You’re going to learn your best lessons through experience, and that won’t happen until you get started. Make sure you’re investing the appropriate amount of time in your ‘doing.’ A lack of commitment will quickly become obvious to everyone else and you’ll lose in the long run.

There are many other tips to share, some general and some more specific, but this is a great place to start.  I’ll have more to provide in the future, but if you have a social media challenge that’s just begging for a solution, let me know.

Follow me on Twitter: @patrickdaly16

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