Question and answer time after every presentation can be quite enlightening. I love being able to have the time to expound on certain aspects of my presentation for the participants in each event. And, inevitably, some of these questions turn out to be quite inspiring for future presentations. Or, in this case, a blog post.
You see, one of the most common questions I get asked is: “What are you top three tips for… (a topic/social media tool/etc)?”
And, so I thought, why not start a “Top 3 Tips” series on my blog?
Now, here it is. And, I’m starting off with something general. I’ll try to go through different specific tools and skills in future posts. So, do stay tuned. And yes, please subscribe, if you haven’t done so yet!
1. Put a social media plan in place. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a firm believer in strategies. Whether or not you turn this in to a full blown strategic document or just a few notes on what you’re trying to achieve and how you’re planning to do it, it is always best to have an idea about why you wish to use social media. And, have a plan on how you are going to use it.
This way, you also avoid over-committing yourself and your organisation. You will have an idea of which tools to focus on, the message that you wish to send out, and the amount of resources you can put in to it. You will also have a better understanding of what you’re expecting to get out of it.
You can also figure out early on whether or not you’re planning to develop an audience or a community, as well as how you’re going to build and maintain them.
2. Choose just one or two social platforms to focus on to start with. And, whatever you choose, make sure that that’s where your stakeholders are hanging out. After all, what’s the point of going on Twitter if majority of the people that you want to talk to are on Facebook, YouTube, or Pinterest?
Once you’ve chosen your favourite platform/s, try to learn as much as you can about it. Learn the etiquette of using that platform. Find out the different features. Explore the different tools that would make your social media use easier and better.
For example, if you wish to focus on Facebook, figure out the difference between a profile, a page, and a group. Decide which one would be best for you to use for what you need. And, find out the different apps and tools that can make it easy for you to update. Learn all about its metrics through Insights, EdgeRank, and other tools.
Of course, with dozens of tools and apps being released on a regular basis, it’s near to impossible to have an exhaustive knowledge about any single platform. However, if you concentrate on just one or two at a time, you will have a better chance of making the most out of whatever you decide to use.
3. Engage and connect! One of the first things you should do when you get on to a social media platform is to make sure your profile is as best as it could possibly be – name, bio, and photo in place… And, the better you can present yourself to your target audience/community, the better your chances are with connecting with them.
Once your profile is ready for prime time, start following contacts or requesting friend connections. If necessary, write a short introduction, especially for people who don’t know you/those you don’t know. Whenever possible, if someone accepts your request and/or follows back, try to make genuine initial contact (not an automated one). Yes, this is not always possible, but it’s a good idea, even if it’s just to say thanks.
Then, start joining conversations! Like pages and posts, leave comments, ReTweet, reply, repin… But, do make sure that you take care when engaging. Don’t just say things like: “I followed you, so follow me back!” or “Go and visit my website!”.
Be real in your conversations. Respond to things that you’re really interested in. Share your passions and show your personality.
And, whenever possible, take things offline and start meeting people through group get-togethers, local events, and other types of meet-ups.
Please feel free to add in some of your favourite tips for social media newbies in the comments section too.
Shai Coggins is the Manager and Chief Digital Media Specialist at Vervely, an Australia-based agency serving local and international clients. One of the company's main clients is Microsoft. Shai has been featured in a number of media due to her online work, including being named as one of Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list (2009).