Whenever you hear about Social Media, does it sound like a passing fad to you? Does it seem, as the ageless Betty White eloquently put it, “Like a huge waste of time”? When you think of all the time you’d have to put into it to be successful, can you imagine about 500 other things you’d much rather be doing with your day?
Well if your answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’, you’re not alone. There are many individuals and businesses alike that are not on Facebook, or Twitter, or any other Social Media medium, yet their lives go on. The world does not pass you by just because you don’t announce your exact location to the universe by way of foursquare.
That said, by continuing to ignore Social Media, there is an amazing opportunity that you are missing out on, whether your aspirations to connect with people are personal or professional. Keeping your head firmly buried in the sand in an attempt to pretend that it doesn’t exist doesn’t keep the conversation from taking place; it simply means that you are choosing to be irrelevant.
Social Media has been around for a while. Network websites such as Friendster, Myspace, Bebo, LinkedIn, etc. have been around since the early days of the internet. Today there are hundreds of Social Media platforms that are of varying degrees of relevance. And, while there are established major players who got into it early on and are revered and admired in their niche, that doesn’t mean that the Social Media landscape is competitive to the point of saturation.
The thing that is great about Twitter, Facebook and the like is the fact that there is, and always will be room for more. Not only is there plenty of room at the top, but they want you there. The top Social Media users such as Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan) are always looking to connect to relevant people who are going to provide value to them.
So if you’re hesitant to get involved, relieve yourself of your prejudices and jump in with both feet. Here are a few tips to get you going:
If you haven’t already, create accounts at Facebook.com and Twitter.com.
Announce to the world by whatever medium you have that you now have accounts on these sites. This can be a blog post, or by going through your email contacts, or by simply telling them. Maybe you operate a retail counter – put your username on display in a conspicuous place, or on your receipt. If you’ve created a fan page on Facebook, encourage them to ‘like’ your page in order to stay in contact – give them an incentive for doing so.
Once you have a few friends or followers, engage them and watch what they do. If they seem to be prominent in their respective online communities, participate in the discussions and provide value to them while expecting nothing in return. This will help you grow your own network one you establish yourself as a valuable resource.
Establish a schedule for the amount of time you’ll dedicate to Social Media participation. Five minutes a couple times a day should be plenty to get started. The idea is to accumulate people to connect with. You don’t have to burn hours a day in front of your laptop in order to be successful in Social Media.
The goal of Social Media isn’t to become a guru with 50,000 followers. If that happens, great – so long as all of your connections are meaningful. A friends list that contains nothing but a bunch of arbitrary people that you don’t care about and that doesn’t care about you isn’t doing you any favors. It may be a relatively slow process, but as long as you’re honest in your approach, and you conduct yourself in such a manner that encourages the organic growth of your network, you’ll do just fine.