Diving into the Social Media pool was like taking a dip in shadowy shark infested waters to me.
For the sake of business (and after much contemplation), I decided to get brave and dipped in just one toe.
I’m not sure I’m swimming yet, but I am enjoying floating about, so I thought I’d let you know what I learned. If you’re ready for an adventure, that is.
Maybe the question is more,“Is this for me?” I’m busy enough as it is, right?
Most people are busy, and that’s the first worry in joining social media. Let’s face it, I don’t need or want to waste precious time!
If you’re younger, or big in tech, maybe social is no thing.
But, for me, taking on this adventure comes from an “impact for business” perspective, and if you freelance, web write, or blog, you may want to think about social strategically, or rethink, your social media plan of attack.
Let me preface by saying, I was pushed/pulled into the social media pool, loudly kicking and screaming, and not by willingly taking that 10 score swan dive, exuding elegance and grace.
After all, I’ve spent years figuring out how to like, adjust, then love, my hermit writer world! You might even say, being anti-social works for me.
Anyhooo, my BIG SPLASH (a bit more than fashionably late) into the social stream was more like a tiny falling raindrop, lost in an unending ocean of blue.
Drowning or merely disappearing altogether may seem like viable possibilities on first look, but instead, I discovered quite a lot.
And, I made some unbelievably important connections, like for this guest post opportunity, for example. You can too.
New, like me, or seasoned but with room to improve, this study may be of help in the quest for social distraction, oops, I mean social media, planning, for business results.
Why plunge in and test the social media waters?
The biggest drivers of discovery and traffic—more so than search—according to “Shareaholic,” are social networks. What? That’s significant if you are looking for new traffic or trying to attract new customers, to your website. Hmmm.
A little while ago, I wrote a post to try to talk myself into getting on board with social, “Social Media is the New Word of Mouth,” but it didn’t work. Then, when I started to look at social media as a place where people are meeting to conduct business, it made more sense.
I want to be where business is.
Mindset is part of embracing social in a business capacity. Because “doing it” and actually “interacting” are two different things. Weigh that into the equation for your plan, because the “conversation” is everything in making relevant connections.
Super successful magazine (book, blog, etc.) writer, Linda Formichelli, has changed her mind on this (as is her prerogative, and I say go for what works best for you!) but, coincidentally, that’s how I connected with her. She has a lot of influence on me by way of what I’ve learned from her, and what I’ve read, impacting how I view any number of items in figuring out my writing career.
I’m lucky I found Linda on Twitter before she decided to get out, but the point is, she will be just as successful with or without spending time on social media. On the other hand, she doesn’t have to build new business anymore as her writing clients and contacts are many and varied, and built over time.
Consider whether social media will benefit you or suck time you want to spend elsewhere!
Think it over because you can’t just splash around without getting all the way wet; like anything in business, using social media requires some consistent planning and work on your part.
Or you can go with the “experimental experience your-way-in-approach” I adopted. Of course, the “consistent planning and work” part still comes into play as you go.
Leaning in and learning out.
Tiptoeing quietly to social media platforms, I listened to the advice of others and began trying to determine the channels that fit me best.
By identifying the ones most important to my business needs, focus, and objectives, I tried to pinpoint the most effective (okay and maybe least intimidating) place to start.
Here’s a little help put together by Quicksprout so you can examine the details to strategically assess your best social media mix. Develop your own particular perfect plan of attack by leveraging the social channels where your customers most likely hang out.
Again, I opted to ease in, timidly, finally deciding to go ahead and jump—but only with one selection at a time.
As far as the internet goes, I find I can read until I’m blue in the face, but trying, testing, and playing, gets me farthest faster. (Like that dragon, WordPress, in my “Blog Hog” post. Ha!)
I admit this can get you in trouble at times—jumping on in, with no life jacket in sight—and I may have done some things differently, if I had only known better, or figured out more ahead of time.
But for me, doing is great learning, especially in the computer technology world. (If it doesn’t do me in first, that is.)
And I definitely made some funny mistakes trying stuff out and not really knowing what the heck I was doing but, hey, at least, I was doing something.
So, tell yourself you can do it. Try things out. Take it slow and steady. Experiment.
The thing is, you won’t really blow up the planet or anything if you text a typo or say something stupid or screw up a hashtag (you thought it was a hashtag!) or forget the link or whatever.
You may even appear human and I think that’s okay. Maybe that was one of the BIG realizations for me right there: At the epicenter of social media is the connection to people.
Surprise, surprise, surprise!
It turns out that social media isn’t so much about the channel, the technology, or the computer. It’s about people. People I want to do business with, talk with, learn from, collaborate with, and even meet. It’s an exciting marketplace, run by the market, itself. Yep.
Joe Everybody runs social media channels! Guess what? That means me, and you.
The tipping point.
Still talking myself into it, I decided: I am going to do this so take a deep breath and jump. Because yep, I want to make business connections/contacts, and I even like people! All set.
Then I started clicking around a bit to see if I could learn anything before any signup because, in fact, I had NO CLUE where or how to begin. Any of them.
The decisions I was solid with at this point were:
- I was most interested in Twitter and Google+
- I was NOT interested in Facebook at all (maybe because my best bud and I dubbed it “assbook” years ago and I just couldn’t shake that thought.) But, in fact, I had lots of reasons to not select FB for social and decided to leave this one out for me, for now.
- LinkedIn seemed like the perfect business social channel to me but, I already had a profile for the (brick and mortar) business I was operating long before a digital business and didn’t want confusion there. So that choice, though a good fit, was set aside. Mostly.
- I also wasn’t feeling the Pinterest channel as my photo skills are shaky, and my audience wasn’t necessarily hanging there either.
- I was very interested in SlideShare but, at that point, didn’t even realize it is, in fact, a social channel, too. (SS as well as LinkedIn, who, interestingly, owns it, is a whole other post!)
So there I am, ready to plunge into the social media waters, standing at the very edge of the plank, or maybe I should say diving board to make it sound like it all felt friendlier, pondering and shivering.
Regardless, (I may have been slightly frozen in place if I tell the truth) I decided I had to do it. I picked my best first two channels, (for you: go with 3 at the most so you’re not overwhelmed is the current recommendation) and yet, was mortified and not signing up for anything. Yikes!
Plop. A Google+ invite arrives from an editor I am working with and oops, it seems I slipped, landing in the murky social pond. Oh, my.
I accept and still, I have no idea what I’m doing, but here I go swimming about.
I’m still trying to figure out how to float, and checking for land and life jackets and stuff when, suddenly, I get the excitement of a couple, then a few follows! Wow. Social might be cool.
Except. It turns out I am getting friended, followed, circled—whatever the heck it is—by guys who want relationships I finally figure out. Oops. (Again.) I think my hubby won’t be thrilled if I start internet dating even if it is in the name of getting work! Now, what?
I decide to take on my Dory* persona and “just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”
*from “Finding Nemo.”
So, while my Google+ was a belly flop initially, now I couldn’t possibly give up.
I started a Twitter account, and it felt bold of me with how slowly I was progressing in the G+ world but, I’m no quitter, and a fair try is, at the least, the way to do things.
Of course, the Twitter interface is another whole new world but, a surprise to my wordy self, I liked the short character messages and as soon as I signed in, my brother popped up to follow! What? I didn’t know he was a tweeter?! Shocking.
I know I must sound goofy not to know anything about Twitter, or social generally, but I guess I was too busy working and not at all in any digital way. Even when I began freelance work, digitally, I had no idea at first about the usefulness and impact of social media.
(I’m just letting you know that my social media awareness meter moved from zero to about 2,000, that’s all.)
I’ve been on Twitter for six months now. Not that long but long enough to see some very favorable outcomes and to realize that my approach and method for this channel is netting some interesting and positive results.
I didn’t read or study anything about how to use Twitter but rather jumped in splashing and laughing. And then I experimented.
I had a business intention going in but, other than that, I just went with intuition, my personality, and perhaps some business sense acquired over years of business ownership.
I liked it pretty quickly but decided not to follow any porn stuff or Twitter shares for hire sites or anyone with no followers and no tweets (inactive) or naked people or follows in languages I didn’t recognize so therefore, couldn’t communicate with.
I also didn’t search for people nearby necessarily, or that I knew. It’s not that I have anything against people I know or naked people, for that matter, but I wanted to concentrate on a particular audience of like-minded and similarly interested business associates.
I wanted to follow some of my mentors for writing, freelance and copywriting, digital marketing pros, educational sources, digital resources of all types, etc. I wanted to see and learn as much as possible.
And my journey continues.
Twitter turns out to be a big splash, an addictive, oops I mean, active social media marketplace:)
Social media is big and growing and what’s more, is it is a major factor in digital, or online, marketing. What really matters is the quality and not quantity of connections you make and beyond engagement, meaningful interaction is at the core of social marketing success.
The problem is, you can get lost in Twitter for hours, days and weeks, without realizing it. I admit that I was intrigued and was finding and learning so many great things, I lost some time in the Twitter void a few times, at first. Truly, if you learn how to use it in that way, it is a great source.
You (and every person) will find your unique way to participate and interact if you’re not already, but I find there’s always more to learn and things keep changing, too.
Here’s a nice step by step guide I found for you that gives a little “Twitter Etiquette” to use in making your way and interacting for results.
Additionally, you may want to check out the holy book on the subject, The Tao of Twitter, written by Mark Schaefer, a guy who operates one of my favorite business blogs, is a renowned educator, speaker, and presenter, and a semi-famous podcast host for The Marketing Companion with Tom Webster.
AND, a person I connected with via Twitter! The funny thing is, now that I’m at the halfway point in reading Mark’s Tao, my little experimental Twitter journey seems like a very similar story. Hmmm.
There’s a lot to Mark, well-beyond the above intro. In this, he will help to begin your social quest with a little history lesson, so check out Mark’s “Medieval Guide” SlideShare for some background.
Jumping back to the now.
Did it feel like a slap in the face when Twitter shares were abruptly stopped? Well maybe we did have a little warning but that really didn’t lessen the sting. At least for me.
But luckily I found an article on my Twitter feed and I recently solved the Twitter count dilemma on my site, making my AppSumo Twitter button alive again! Yay. I know that doesn’t sound too professional but the fact is I admit that part of the draw to Twitter for me as a writer was a chance to share my work.
There I said it. I like to write for someone to read, and share! Please:)
Look, anyone who won’t admit they get a little tickle from people sharing (and more hopefully, reading) their work, or from seeing share counts on articles, (even if they’re a “vanity metric”) or by getting comments on their posts, is either lying or should get another job. One they like!
It also has to do with “social proof” which is a plus for most businesses, business professionals, and websites. Even though it may not work, universally, Newsharecounts.com works with WordPress and AppSumo share buttons and I believe a couple of other share button plug-ins too, so try this remedy on your site.
It’s super easy to work with and, although it won’t pick up your previous tweet counts, at least, you can start again and have something and not nothing for a count on the little tweet birdie.
Wrapping it up with research.
Okay, so I may have gone about my social media swim somewhere between a guess and a dare, but truly I have proof now that my silly twitter tale is actually a marketing story using social media that’s working. For real.
I know it’s working because I:
- am building connections, and, more importantly, relationships
- landed guest blog posts and invitations to guest blog
- developed a like-minded, creative, interesting and intelligent group (mostly) of about 1200 followers/following and became part of about 30 unique topical lists
- learned of writing opportunities, gotten work leads and, found great research data and information from a wide variety of sources, as well as connecting with writers I admire, respect, and want to learn from
- increased, and continue to increase, traffic to my website, considerably (okay about 100%) since starting to tweet
- find I get the best (and most) feedback from my feed on my own work and words that I often test for content projects (I love this!) via Twitter [including likes, retweets, and shares—most likes ever so far (29) when I shared my very own creativity blog piece, published in December on kikolani]
- discovered (using Google Analytics) that over the last 30 days, Twitter has been the number one referrer of traffic to my website (wow!)
- finally had a little awesome and positive interaction on both Google+ and my very new SlideShare account via another little tale—but I’ll just say, it started from a tweet:)
- am having fun (maybe because I get a little kick and big smile when someone like Sujan Patel or Barry Feldman follows me back), and I enjoy the wonder of discovery out there in tweet land, I suppose (so far)
If I haven’t enticed you to take the social plunge, or perhaps to re-focus your social media strategy and plan of attack for marketing results, yet…
Well, I’ll just have to share some of the resources I’ve collected in the extensive research on social media and social media marketing I did for this post.
Here you go.
This gives you some references you need to start your own adventure and social media waterfall. I usually do this deep study before I dive in but, this was gathered post-plunge, for the most part.
So to add to my story, here comes the research. There’s a lot of good stuff collected and so much to keep learning, too. Enjoy. And let me know what you think in the comments, please.
Bufferapp.com gives a brief history of social media in this post, adding future predictions for a well-rounded starting point.
MarkitWrite.com will tell you the “Top 3 Social Media Mistakes to Avoid at all Costs,” to get you off on the right foot.
Sarah Snow asks, “Is Social Media Worth it for Small Businesses?” while Sam Fiorelli of Sensei Marketing, like me, questions the use of Facebook for business.
Before moving forward, take a look at Kerry Gorgone’s, “Steps to Protect Your Privacy.”
If you’re set to go, you may want to take a peek at these:
“Twitter Marketing,” via SocialQuant.”
Markethub shows you “Twitter Marketing Hacks” and “3 Simple Steps to Turn Twitter into a Revenue Generator” on their website.
And here’s an interesting take from Contently for using Instagram in an innovative way!
And this is a great overview on the subject of using visual social media platforms by Rebekah Radice in “The Guide to Conquering Today’s Top Visual Marketing Social Networks.”
Now for some specs on visual content:
Tim Felmingham offers “Social Media Image Sizes” in a quick reference on his site or you can look at HubSpot for “Stats You Should Know About Visual Media Marketing.”
How about those hashtags? Here are two sources to check out:
“How To Properly Use Hashtags” as posted on Jason Houck is a fine place to start or, you can make sure you’re “not a Hashhole” and learn another thing or two about hashtags, again from SocialQuant.
CoSchedule gives you the “Types of Social Media Content That Will Give You the Greatest Value” in this post.
And speaking of CoSchedule, they may have a say in how to schedule your content media distribution strategy while Linkology takes a closer look at, “Hootsuite vs. Buffer” in the auto-scheduling and distribution arena.
I’m participating “manually” so far in my social media marketing experiment, but I’m starting to both understand and realize the purpose of some “automation” is to most effectively share and exchange ideas with a wider reach and therefore, bigger potential for successful results. These will help to explain and expand the concept:
“Guide to Strategic Content Distribution” from Relevance is a good compliment to *grow*’s, “How to Promote Your Content.”
In this post, CMI (Content Marketing Institute) takes a contrarian viewpoint to point out “Content Distribution Danger.” I think some of the points made in this one reflects some hesitation to leave the “manual interaction” of my experiments, personally, because I think a real connection is human, and automation is actually, in my view, not politely “social” at all!
The other thing is I don’t want to be perceived as a spam bam thank you ma’am marketing machine. You know, the ones none of us like or enjoy.
However, distribution and sharing your content (particularly as a content creator) is a serious business objective and standard method used to get noticed, even hired. Hmmm.
By swimming down deeper, you’ll discover more treasures…
Like in this read from e-consultancy talking about “Social ROI: How to Measure the Value of Social Media.” Or, “Setting Goals & Tracking Progress: Identifying Success in Social Media Marketing” by theSocialMs, to be sure you are on the right track for progress.
Socialzoomfactor.com will tell you “How to A/B Test Marketing Programs using Social Media” while drumup offers a post on “Leveraging Influencers for Social Media Marketing”—a topic I seem to be seeing more and more, by the way.
And this piece for CMI by Daniel Hochuli of Content King sums things up a bit and brings up an interesting point of view in measuring performance by comparing “social media” to “search” and factoring in “audience intent” as part of the equation.
I’m going to sum it up by giving you one more click, and if this is for real, you can easily see for yourself that social media is here—and growing every second—that’s for sure!
Thanks for your time in reading and also thanks to Kristi, for having me, once again:)