Social media can seem scary, especially for someone who’s never maintained a web presence before. However, the benefits of digital networking are too vast to doubt, and too valuable to risk skipping out on. In this guide, we’ll review the three most important first steps when building your own social media sphere, whether it’s for personal or professional purposes. With these social media tips, you’ll be a networking machine! Check out Introduction to Social Media Marketing for a more in-depth guide.
#1 – Sign up, EVERYWHERE
You can’t maintain a web presence if you don’t have one at all. The first step towards building your social networking empire, and learning how to use it to effectively market your skills, is to actually sign up for some sites! There’s a plethora of social media sites out there, from microblogging platforms to social and professional networking services. Not all of them will be useful to you, depending on what you’re marketing and the type of presence you want to maintain, but the more online ground you can cover, the more people who will see you. Here’s a brief line-up of social media sites and related services to help you decide where to start:
- Facebook: One of the most visited sites on the web, Facebook is great for keeping a personal profile and networking with friends and colleagues, as well as a professional “fan” page for services and business entities. A good social media hub. Learn Facebook here!
- Twitter: Twitter is a way to stay active, social, and relevant among your friends and business peers, allowing you to write short blurbs and status updates about anything you want, and broadcasting it to the world. People outside your network can view your tweets by searching for similar keywords, hashtags, or seeing your followers retweet you. Learn how to market yourself on Twitter here!
- LinkedIN: Often referred to as a professional version of Facebook, LinkedIN lets you host your resume, list contact information, apply for jobs, and network with industry partners. If you’re job hunting, or looking to keep in touch with important business contacts, LinkedIN is the one for you.
- Tumblr: Tumblr is extremely versatile. You can keep everything from a casual blog to a photo journal, a portfolio to a development log. The community is huge, and there will always be something for everyone. It’s a good way to have some control over the design of your site as well.
- Google+: If you use all of Google services, like Gmail, Google Drive, and more, Google+ is only the logical next step. It’s the second largest social media site following Facebook.
- YouTube: Not a social networking site, technically, but it allows you to create and share videos with the world. Great for vlogs (video blogs) in case writing isn’t your thing.
- Pinterest: A photo-sharing website that, like its name suggests, looks like a pinboard. “Pin” your favorite images to your board, share images from other people’s pages, and show the world your interests and hobbies.
- Flickr: Photographer? Get a Flickr. Now!
- Instagram: Instagram is another photo-sharing site, but with a more casual approach than Flickr. If you’re someone who’s trying to build a fanbase, you can use this to keep people updated about what you’re doing, where you’re at, and who you’re with. Learn how to use Instagram for your business here!
#2 – Find your home page
I know I just got done explaining why you should sign up everywhere, but as important as it is to have a large web presence, it’s also vital you have a strong one. Trying to maintain twenty social media profiles every day can become hectic, and take over the time you need to spend on your actual job! Pick one or two social networking sites to really focus on. If you stick with Twitter and Facebook, but also have a LinkedIN and Tumblr, try to tweet every single day. Learn how to connect your Facebook to your Twitter, so every tweet appears as a status update on Facebook as well. Engage your followers on Facebook and Twitter the most. Favor them. Check LinkedIN maybe once or twice a day, and only post important things to Tumblr. Link to your Twitter and Facebook on both accounts, so people know where to find you most.
#3 – Engage people
Don’t just use your social media presence as a way to show off your skills, or talk about yourself, or market yourself as the ideal employee. The reason it’s called “social media” is because you’re supposed to be social. Engage with others directly. If you’re an eBook author with a Twitter, don’t just tweet about your favorite book from 2013. Ask your followers about theirs. “I really liked Book A last year.” vs. “Last year’s Book A was great because of its plot and characters. What was your favorite book?” The first tweet is just a declaration. Your fans may skim it over. Perhaps some of your most loyal ones will tweet back. But the second tweet offers up an opportunity to engage. You’ve laid out an opinion that others can solidly agree or disagree with, and you’ve invited them to comment. This can spark everything from solitary replies to long discussions, and could nab you a few extra followers if your fans rope their friends into the conversation. For Twitter in particular, it also helps to use hashtags to make searching your keyword easier for others.
Social media marketing is about broadening your social horizons, and getting your personality, skills, and business seen by as many people as possible. Use these social media tips as a foundation for your social networking adventures, and you should be on your way to a fruitful web presence. Remember:
- Sign up for many different websites
- Focus strongly on one or two of them
- Directly engage others, including strangers and fans
For more information about social media marketing, you might also like to check out the following courses: