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How to Get Started with Social Media

November 30, 2008

I hear it all the time… social media is not for me. I can’t keep up with it. I don’t have time or I am not ready to create content online.

I agree that social media can feel overwhelming and a bit scary at first, but If you are a marketer like I am it’s hard not to notice that

  • 66 million people use Facebook daily
  • 25 million have a LinkedIn profile
  • 2.5 participate in conversations on Twitter

In order to understand what social media is all about you cannot read books about it, although there are many good ones. Instead you must take part in it, live it and breath it and, trust me, you don’t have to quit your day job to do it either.

I think the trick lies in finding one or two social networks or channels that you can find value in and sticking with them for some time to figure out how to incorporate them into your life routine. Here are my top picks to get started. These tools might not be the easiest, but they will give you the widest exposure and teach you social media in action. And no, you don’t need to be an HTML whiz to use them.

  • LINKEDIN. This is a must! Set up a LinkedIn profile and start building your network. Do it for your professional brand and future job opportunities. With LinkedIn you can
    • Add your complete work history and your education profile
    • Search for people you know and add them to your list of contacts
    • Make your profile visible in a Google search so people will be able to find you when searching against your name
    • Add testimonials and recommendations to your profile
    • Ask and answer LinkedIn questions to increase your visibility.

    Not convinced? Guy Kawasaki neatly sums it up for you.

  • TWITTER. Twitter is hot. It has grown by 600 percent in the past year and it continues to attract users at a very rapid pace. Talking about Twitter around the watercooler will quickly elevate you to the status of a new media guru. But don’t be affraid. Twitter is easy to get started. I blogged about Twitter already and there is a great blog post by Barb Gibson that talks about her twitter journey.  Remember, you don’t have to post right away. At the beginning you can just listen and learn. Consider following trendsetters in your industry and once you are comfortable start a conversation of your own.
  • FACEBOOK OR OTHER SOCIAL NETWORKS. Due to a sheer volume of users setting up your profile on Facebook just makes sense. There is nothing frivolous, time consuming or difficult about it since Facebook is probably used by your peers already. Just remember to separate your personal life from your professional brand and think before you post.
    What can Facebook help you with? It can help you find business contacts, build relationships and get rapid top Google search ranking placement. Probably most of your friends and coworkers are on Facebook already. Search for them and start “friending” them. Not into Facebook? Here is a list of over 350 niche social networking sites for lawyers, small business owners, professional artists and virtually anybody out there.
    What are you wating for? Go friend somebody.
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