It's "SOCIAL" Media - What Are You Afraid Of?

social-media.jpg

Social Media is about creating relationships and communities of people and connecting with them. Ja-Nae Duane got it right when she said, “It’s about making those connections, it’s meeting people, getting to know who they are, what they want, and how you can help them!”  Why?  There’s a huge benefit in it for businesses.  At the end of the day you want to talk to your customers and engage with them on a personal level – which is made possible through social media.  The platform is there because of social media tools, customers now expect you to talk to them, to care about them and to listen to them, and if you’re not doing that, you’re losing out on an opportunity to create meaningful and trusting relationships with your customers. Choose your paths and discover new ones

Social media has opened up and created new channels of content distribution and points of conversation for businesses.  You can use it to distribute your message to your target audience, but ALSO to reach out and tap into a new customer segment.  How?  By creating relationships with your customers and the people that you want to be listening to you.  Bill Jacobson notes there is a strategy involved, “Social media and the message you want to get out and how you use the tools really projects where you want to go with your business and the types of people you want to connect with in the future.”

Note: While making these connections, make sure you are listening.  It’s important to understand the needs of the people you connect with and how you can provide for them in a unique way.

Relationship building and how you ALREADY do it

So how do you create these relationships?  This is the part that people usually get stuck with or the point at which they get overwhelmed.  Social media, in the beginning, can seem like a daunting task.  One thing you have to remember is that you cannot build relationships overnight.  Think about it realistically, can you make a best friend in one day or even in one week?  It takes time, and so does social media.

So where do you begin – lets break it down into a real life example.

Social media is FULL of all different types of people from different industries, with different personalities, skills and perspectives.  Naturally you won’t be able to, nor will you want to, meet all of them.  You have to focus in on the people you want to connect with that mean something to you.

In the real word, when you want to connect with entrepreneurs, you go to an entrepreneur  networking event or conference where you know you will be able to interact with entrepreneurs.  If you want to meet people in the culinary industry, you go to a food expo, and so on. You seek out the people you want to connect with online in the same fashion - you go where they hang out and where they are talking.

Social Media

What happens once you find them?  Well, what happens when you’re at a networking event and you meet someone you want to connect with?.

  • You introduce yourself
  • They introduce themselves
  • You ask them what they do and about their business
  • You ask what brought them to the event
  • You may make a reference to someone you know that does something related
  • You tell them what you’re working on
  • You answer any questions they have
  • Etc etc etc … pretty typical right?

So lets bring it around, full circle and apply this format to the realm of social media.

Introductions are made through your username, handle and bio.  You review what people are talking about and if it peaks your interest, you start a conversation.  Just like you would at a networking event, mention someone you know that could be of interest to them and tag that person in your note (similar to the CC protocol in email but as a “mention on twitter or tag in facebook)

Evan Kaufman, an experienced improv performer, hit the nail right on the head when he paralleled improv strategies with strategies to starting a conversation; “One of the great things about improv is the idea of ‘Yes, and,’ which is just very simply taking an idea, saying yes to it and building upon it.”  If there’s an idea you agree with and that aligns with your core values and interests, let others know about it and give credit to the person who shared it with you.

It’s a matter of time

It’s all about time management.  As Jim Spencer says, “If you’re spending too much time on social media then you’re probably not doing other things that you should be.”  Just as you schedule meetings into your day and allot a certain amount of time to projects, you should allow yourself a certain amount of time per day or every other day for social media.

What does this mean in a practical sense?  Here’s an example; give yourself a half hour in the morning and half hour after lunch to focus on your social networks.  As you become more comfortable in the space you’ll see what works for you and what doesn’t and conform your schedule to those observations.  Also, give yourself clear goals that make sense for you.

Here is an example:

I will find 10 people I want to connect with

I will send out 10 valuable tweets and post 2 times on my facebook page

I will comment on 5 articles or interesting tweets sent out by my network

I will spend 1 hour writing a blog post about ___

This may sound rigid but having a plan will relieve the common problem of “I don’t know what to do…”

When considering what commitments you will make to social media and what platforms you will use, take Steven Shapiro’s advice, “Doing one or two things, whether its twitter or blog, doing those very well in a way that resonates with you and makes sense with your daily operations makes a lot more sense than trying to do everything and not quite making it there.

But where’s the FUN?

It may seem overwhelming to get started and there will, no doubt, be some confusion in the beginning, but don’t forget to have fun with it!    Social media is supposed to be fun, so take advantage of the “fun factors” that exist.  No one like a “stiff” on or off line.  Take part in the fun, for example, compete for “mayorship” on Foursquare and note the great people you’ve met in a #followfriday on Twitter.

Become a part of the community and have fun with the people you meet, that’s what social media is all about!

LOOK FOR YOURSELF

July 1st was International Social Media Day --- and BOY was it fun!  Social media is all about communicating and sharing, so following suit, Ja-Nae Duane, the president of Wild Women Entrepreneurs & JDV, shared her knowledge with a group of over 80 attendees at last nights "Boston’s Mashable Social Media Day" [#smday] hosted by Joselin Mane of @BostonTweetup. And what better way to share it than through YouTube!

The video features thoughts and insights on social media from:

Ja-Nae Duance: “Author of How to start your business with $100” @TheSunQueen

Jeff Cutler: @jeffcutler, Nomx3 and jeffcutler.com

Jim Spencer:  JBS Partners, BlogWranglers.com, @fairminder, Web Page Advisor

Steven Shapiro: New Leaf Legal @newleaflegal

Bill Jacobson: WorkBar Boston @workbarboston

Evan Kaufman, actor with Improv Asylum, @improvasylum

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3NschsewRI

 

About the Author: Evona Niewiadomska is the Events and Digital Media Manager at Workbar.  As of January 2013 she is an independent Digital Media & Design Creative with a specialty for infographic design and social media strategy.  Check out her website, evonawiktoria.com or contact her via email evona.wiktoria@gmail.com or twitter @evonawiktoria.