In this first installment of a series on getting to grips with social media, I am going to tackle two of the biggest headaches for businesses looking to harness the power of social media – the fear of setting up profiles in the first place, and then worrying about publicly unleashing an unruly monster that will be difficult to control.
Let’s take a moment to get this in perspective. Online is the new offline when it comes to networking. When it comes to social media marketing, why not think of it as translating your real-life networking experience from offline to online?
Think about when you’ve been at a business networking event. You are interested in expanding your circles of influence, meeting new people and forming bonds as you start to understand what they do and how you can do business with them in future. You’re polite. You take an interest in the other attendees and listen as they tell you about themselves. You then share your elevator pitch and answer any questions they have.
"Whether we’re talking about social media, or face-to-face networking, it's all about being human and connecting with people with genuine interest and understanding."I can imagine that just like me, when you started your face-to-face networking, some of you would have had to overcome your shyness and learn how to break the ice with new people and start conversations. That’s not so different to your situation now, is it? And you overcame those worries? Yes?
Whether we’re talking about social media, or face-to-face networking, it's all about being human and connecting with people with genuine interest and understanding. It’s not about being pushy. And it’s not being a techie.
I’m a former techie and what I noticed with many of my techie colleagues was that they struggled like mad with social networking because they’re not very good with using words to win over hearts and minds to help their sales and marketing efforts. They simply could not see how to use it as a promotional tool, even if they could set up an account in 10 seconds flat.
Like picking up any new business skill, a bit of conviction and some common sense go a long way, so don’t write yourself off before you’ve even started.
Keep reminding yourself it's not a new game with new rules, it's just online. And remember, you're not the only one who is technically challenged. Many, many millions of people have set up social media accounts - and many of them, most definitely, a little apprehensive just like you.
Getting started is do-able. Even if you can't confidently set up an account yourself, you will know someone who can – a family member, a colleague, a friend. If you’re too shy to ask for help and determined to set up your own accounts and profiles, every site provides clear and concise instructions for people to follow. YouTube is awash with step-by-step videos so pick a quiet time and get yourself set up on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
Be positiveFocus on the benefits of your social media marketing endeavours and how great it will be to share how great your business is and connect with more people - not what might go wrong if you make a mistake. You can always edit your profile, delete a status update, end a connection, or worst case delete your newly created account and start again. It’s not the end of the world if you hit a few snags along the way, but not getting started is.
Remind yourself that you don't have to understand all the jargon, use complicated reporting tools, automation tools, creating blockbuster videos and so on right from day one. Master the basics of creating an inviting, credible profile and how to update people on what you're doing. Keep it simple and make a start, then pick up additional skills when you want/need to.
IT fear-busting strategyI have been very lucky in life - technology has always been easy for me to pick up - but I can appreciate the fear and stress that comes with attempting to master something you don't relish doing – conquering my fear of public speaking springs to mind.
Computers touch our lives every day, so the sooner you can reduce the fear, the easier it will be for you to pick up some great new IT skills you can use to boost your business.
A great fear-busting technique is to write down 25 things you have achieved with IT that you’re proud of. For example:
- Took part in a video-conference with colleagues in Australia.
- Learned how to synchronise my mobile phone address book with Outlook.
- Managed to buy a domain name and some hosting for my business website.
- Connected my digital camera to my computer and printed out a nice-looking colour photo.
In the next article, we'll be making a start in earnest and exploring how you can use your offline networking and analysis skills to help you identify your social media goals.