No doubt, building a presence on social networking sites and in the blogosphere can be overwhelming. Feeds. Widgets. Trackbacks. Pingbacks. Tweets. Posts. There’s so much to keep up with, a person could get lost in the maze trying.
As Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Thanks Lao, but which single step do I take? And how do I get above the fray without letting Facebook consume me?
My best general advice is to be efficient with your energy: (1) focus on aspects of social media that honestly interest or excite you, and then (2) execute it the most efficient way possible. Use technology to your advantage, and have fun with it. If you’re not getting anything out of social media personally, then do yourself a favor and either hire a social media specialist or stick to that analog networking thing – it seems to have worked out ok for Mr. Lao.
For those of you willing to take one step deeper into the social media realm, I’ve put together a list of four techniques and opportunities that my colleagues and I feel have strong potential for outsized return on time invested:
Post once and done. Services like Hootsuite or Ping.fm allow you to schedule your tweets and posts in advance so you can stay organized and ensure that updates go out on time. (Check out http://www.socialoomph.com/ or http://techie-buzz.com/featured/schedule-future-twitter-tweets.html for more ideas.) At the very least, link your Twitter and Facebook accounts so that all of your tweets get automatically posted to Facebook. In this way, you can be on two social media sites for the “price” or time of one. (Visit http://mashable.com/2009/05/25/twitter-to-facebook/ for options on how to do so.)
LinkedIn Answers. If you want to be known as the go-to person in a field, LinkedIn Answers is a great place to start. As the leading professional social media network, LinkedIn has over 85 million members in its network. Getting seen by them may be easier than you think: LinkedIn Answers lists its “experts” by category, based on the number of times members rate them as having given the “best answers” to questions. This amounts to free advertising for the top experts. The threshold for getting your name on the first page? Amazingly low for a network of this size: “Government Services” – 4 best answers; “Government contracts” – 5 best answers; “Non-Profit Management” – 8 best answers; “Social Entrepreneurship” – 3 best answers. Now that’s low hanging fruit if I’ve ever seen it.
Facebook Landing Page. It took them long enough, but Facebook now allows both personal and company pages to customize landing pages so that when people visit you, they see more than the clunky Facebook interface; they see your aesthetically pleasing, interactive page which guides them into the user experience you define. Now you can direct users with the same calls-to-action offered by your site, such as signing up for a newsletter, buying your book, downloading your white paper or simply contacting you.
Tweet Adder. If you haven’t cut your teeth on Twitter yet, this last tip may be a little advanced. But for those of you already tweeting regularly, this nifty little program is a true force multiplier. Tweet Adder allows you to seek out and identify a list of targeted followers matching certain keywords, bio keywords, tweet keywords, and locations. Based on parameters you specify, this software automatically follows people whose tweets contain words relevant to your practice, unfollows people who don’t reciprocate, seeks out trends relevant to your field, and much more. Set up properly, Tweet Adder can help you build a strong and relevant following while minimizing time spent.
So start small and begin where you’re most comfortable, take advantage of technology to simplify your life, and be open to bringing others on for support in the future. If approached properly, social media offers a whole new point of contact for hundreds of potential customers and there is no better time than the present to start reaching out to them.
Bob Murray, President
StyleMatters Writing Services