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Follow your Passion for Social Media Success

November 30, 2009

Those of you who are active in social media can probably relate to what I am about to describe. It’s a question many of my non-social media active friends, co-workers, business partners seem to be asking more and more often: How can I take advantage of Social Media? This is of course a very valid question and I am always happy to chat about the strategy to get them started.

The recipe for success that I provide includes four steps:

  1. Identify what your goal is. Are you interested in selling products, retaining customers, activating fans, spreading your philanthropic message? Be specific. Stick to 1-2 goals, no more.
  2. Listen. Begin by monitoring social media channels & identifying the what-who-where-and-why for topics that interest you. There are tools that will help you get started in identifying relevant conversations. Free tools include:, Twitter search, Technorati blog search. Paid tools (starting at $250-$500/mo.) include Radian 6 or Scout Labs. Remember to listen for needs and pain points you would be able to help resolve with your expertise, products or solutions.
  3. Contribute. Begin slowly. Your focus should be on providing value & being helpful. This might include writing a comment for someone’s blog post, contributing to a discussion within Facebook group, answering a question on LinkedIn). As you become comfortable with contributing to other’s posts think about setting up permanent social media outposts for yourself (LinkedIn account, Twitter account, your own blog) to maintain presence within relevant Social Media channels. What channels to participate in will depend on where the conversation you are interested in is happening. Remember you must fish where the fish are.
  4. Engage. Develop and maintain online connections and relationships that will result in building your social capital and becoming a trusted expert people turn to for thought leadership and advice.
  5. Measure & repeat what works. Keep the goal you set up in step 1 center stage when setting up your measurements.

When presented with this recipe some folks are eager to get started while some are skeptical from the get-go. The main objections I am hearing are:


Absolutely right. It does take a lot of time and effort to actively participate in Social Media. And in addition to that you must be consistent and persistent to see the results you are hoping for. The truth is Social Media is NOT a magic bullet and you should not expect extraordinary results unless you work for them. That’s why I don’t sugar-coat this for Social Media want-to-be’s. Unless you are ready to work hard, participate and contribute, don’t bother. People will see right through you if your are in it to make a quick buck.

Of course while working hard you should also make sure you are working smart. There are plenty of ways to keep your Social Media journey manageable in terms of time commitment and effort. These include understanding the power of RSS feeds and a concept of writing once but publishing across many Social Media channels. Read this post on “Tech Soup” blog for more tips.


Social Media efforts are hard, but not impossible to measure. Don’t forget Social Media just like Web 2.0 is a brand new phenomenon, hence there is no manual to tell you precisely how to monetize your efforts. You are right however that at the end of the day you must find a way to measure your activities. How will you know whether it’s working unless you measure, right? To do that go back to your initial goal setting in step 1 and find a way(s) to tie your Social Media activities to your main goal. If that’s lead generation start by counting # of people who signed up for your newsletter or filled out your online form as the result of your efforts in Social Media. If it’s cause related measure Word Of Mouth and engagement and compare that with the results you get from other cause activation efforts. You get the gist. If you are more interested in Social Media measurements take a look at KDPaine’s blog.


Really? Have you asked? Your boss might not be familiar with ways to use Social Media channels to advance your business goals which does not mean it must stay that way. Consider recommending a few good blogs for him to follow (e.g. Jeremiah Owyang or yours truly) or buy him one of these books for Christmas: “Groundswell” by Charlene Li & Josh Bernoff or “Tactical Transparency” by Shel Holtz to get him started.


There are no guarantees, but believe me once you get started and develop some initial relationships through Social Media you’ll find there are plenty of people eager to help you succeed using these channels (myself included). You see, in many ways Social Media is a kinder, gentler place where folks are willing to help you once they see you are genuinely trying to contribute to the community. Take advantage of their expertise which is often given to you for free through their blog posts or webinars. One thing you definitely want to avoid is quitting prematurely after just a few weeks of trying. Consider setting up a timetable for your efforts and stick to it. If at the end of that timetable you are not seeing the results you were hoping for go ahead and disengage, but don’t quit prematurely!


My final piece of advice on your journey to Social Media success comes from a recent webinar with Beth Kanter (@Kanter), a very successful user of Social Media who figured out a way to earn a living while helping numerous others and teaching non-profits how to take advantage of Social Media for cause activation (Beth’s blog here). According to Beth, the number one reason to make your social media efforts a success is YOUR PASSION. Social Media is not about just getting leads or scoring sales. It’s about you interacting with other people. When you are passionate about your cause, your product, your message others will notice and be inspired. Right on, Beth. Thanks for that advice!

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 1, 2009 4:22 pm

    Totally spot on stating work harder, but work smarter! Terrific breakdown and realistic outlook on how to get started in social media. Thank you for the shout out!

    Lauren Vargas
    Community Manager at Radian6

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