How To Get Started In Social Media | Shana Albert


Shana Albert

4 Steps to a Successful Start in Social Media

The difference between the web of a few years ago and the web today is Social Media.

Social Media is basically communication online. That doesn’t sound too complicated, huh? But for many beginners it can be. There are many different forms of Social Media… many different ways of communicating online.

Getting involved in Social Media can be intimidating. So much so that you might not know where to even begin. There is Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Plurk, Mixx, Digg. There are blogs, forums, wikis, photo sharing, vlogging (video blogging), and others. They are all different, so which do you devote your time to?

In this post I’m going to get back to the very beginning….I’m going to explain the very basics of how to get Started with Social Media.

1) Figure out what you want to get out of Social Media

Ask yourself the question, “What do I want to get out of Social Media?”. The answer to this question should direct you to the type of Social Media activities you should participate in…. What activities you will benefit the most from. If you are looking to network online with people who share your passion for swimming then joining Digg is probably not the most productive way to go about that.

Below I made a quick chart of common Social Media activities and what needs they meet. Please keep in mind that this chart just gives you a small piece of a much bigger picture. There are many more social media activities and tons more Social Networking sites;

SOCIAL MEDIA
PERSONAL USE
BUSINESS USE
Blogging
  • Create a Journal or a Diary
  • Write as a hobby about anything
  • Allows you to have conversations with others regarding your Blogging
    Topic
  • Add a blog to an established website to add updated content often
  • create a Blog as a Business in itself (i.e. eCommerce, Google Adsense, Affiliate Programs)
  • Allows you to communicate with your customers/clients.
  • Establish yourself as an expert in your field.
Forums
  • Ask Questions & get Answers
  • Meet others with the same interest.
  • Answering questions can help establish you as a known expert in your field.
  • Answers to your unknown business related questions
  • Branding
MicroBlogging
  • Fun Chit Chat
  • Keep in Contact with Friends & Family
  • Create a Buzz
  • Occasional Links to Posts and Product Pages
  • Business/Industry Networking
  • Branding
Video Sharing
  • Keep Family & Friends in the “know” as to what is going on in your life.
  • Find humorous videos
  • Find “how to” videos.
  • Great way to let other people know about your business & what you have to offer. Show off your products or services.
  • Help with Universal Search
Photo Sharing
  • Another wonderful way to share memories with family and friends…. anytime online.
  • Put images of your products and services online. Another way for viewers/clients/customers to find you
  • Helps with Universal Search
Social Networking
  • Friends – MySpace, Facebook, Friends
    Abroad
  • Relationships – Crazy
    Blind Date,
  • Animals – DoggySpace, Animal Internet, Petster
  • Virtual Communities – Playdo, Habbo , Whyville
  • Family / Parenting – Got
    Kids Network, BabyChums, Parenting
  • Hobbies – Sports, Music, Reading, Car
    Enthusiasts
  • Social News – Digg, Mixx, Reddit
  • Jobs, Professional – LinkedIn, The Square, Yahoo Kickstart
  • Industry – Radiologist, Fashion , Art, Marketing
  • Tips, Answers, Suggestions – SpongeFish, Yahoo! Answers
  • Traffic – Digg, Mixx, Reddit

Again, the above chart is simply a tiny piece of social media activities and what you can do there. There is so much more, as a matter of fact, many of the above Social Media activities and Social Networking sites can be used for either business or personal. It is all in how you use it….. in who you network with.

2) Create your Profiles

Once you have determined what Social Sites you want to be a member of it is time to create your Profile.

This task should not be taken lightly. It is extremely important to get the profile perfect because this is the first impression other members of the community will get of you. And, we all know the saying, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression”.

I know very cliche, but also very true. Your profile is how community members will begin to get to know you. What you have in your profile will tell other community members a bit about you…. will help members determine if that want to check you out further.

What is it you want other members of the community to know about you?

  • Avatar – Do NOT use the default avatar. These get ignored. Not only do the default avatars get ignored, but community members feel these members aren’t very serious about the community.
  • Profile Name – This is the name you want the community to know you by. Make this name memorable. If you are networking for business purposes think of using your Company Name…. great for branding purposes.
  • Profile Details – Take a few extra minutes to come up with a great description of yourself and/or your business. It shouldn’t be too long… just long enough to tell the important things about you and/or your business. If it is too long members might not take too much time to read the entire thing. So, keep it short, but detailed.
  • Website Links – If you have websites that you would like to let others know about and you are able to add links to your profiles….then do it. Active members of Social Networking Communities will most likely be checking your profile out. If you have links in your profile you have a pretty good chance of members clicking on them to check out your sites.

3) Learn the Community

Learn the Ins & Outs of being an active and genuine member of that particular community.

I know…. boring & unnecessary, right?! Wrong!!

  • One of the things that can get you started on the wrong foot with any community is doing something that is against the Terms of Service (TOS). For example, my favorite Social Site is StumbleUpon. But, you can get kicked off of StumbleUpon for many things. One of which is constantly stumbling your own website or stumble exchanges. So, that would be a huge mistake that many would make if they joined StumbleUpon and started participating without reading StumbleUpon’s TOS.
  • Also, check to see if the community has a FAQ page for Newbies. This would be a lot easier to understand than reading the Official TOS page. Plus, the Newbie page probably lists plenty of tips and community suggestions that can make your transition from Newbie to Community Pro much easier.
  • Another idea is to keep an eye on the popular, most active members. What are they doing, what are they voting on, what are they submitting & what are they commenting on? Keeping an eye on these facts can help you determine what might work and what might not work.
  • I know these things might be time consuming, but in the long run it can make the difference of “making it” or getting lost within the community….. instead of blending in do what you can to stand out. Taking the time to study and learn from the community can give you the information you need to learn what it will take to stand out from the rest.

4) Become an Active Part of that Community. Enjoy it.

This is the fun part. This is where you put all that you learned above into good use. Social Media can be a lot of fun and very rewarding & powerful in so many ways. But, the thing is you will need to use this power for good and not evil. I have created the following image to show you what I envision this aura around your Online Community Profile to be. (BROKEN IMAGE LINK REMOVED)

Bottom line to be a success in an Online Social Community, just like in any Community, be real, be genuine and “do unto others as you would want done unto you” and you will be success. Treat others with respect and you can’t screw up too badly.

To participate in Social Media can be work and take up a lot of your time. But, as with any community as long as you are participating in a community in an honest and genuine way you will get back as much as you give and probably come away with so much more.


HoboA Bit About Shana Albert

Shana is a Social Media Specialist and one of my favourite bloggers – you can learn a lot from Shana, believe me. It was a real pleasure to have her guest post on the Hobo Blog to help visitors learn how to use these networks properly.

She writes on all things Social Media and Web 2.0 on her blog – Social Desire. Subscribe to hear more of her ramblings or check out her Stumbleupon favorites.

Get more of Shana at http://www.socialdesire.com/



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21 Responses

  1. Shaun says:

    Thanks Shana! This was a great post :)

  2. Shana Albert says:

    You’re most welcomed, Shaun. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It was nice to get “back to basics” with this post. Thanks for having me on Hobo. :)

  3. Tanner Christensen says:

    Great article Shana! Funny thing is, I think that a lot of people try to get into social media without knowing what they want to get in return. The first step is definitely the most important one.

  4. RedEvo says:

    Nice post. I think the key to success in social media (well one important area anyway) is to join communities with a “what can I give” mindset as opposed to a “what can I get” mindset. To borrow a phrase from BNI (who no doubt borrowed it from somewhere else) givers gain. d

  5. Internet Marketing J says:

    Hi there Shana..social media sites can be great tools in promoting your business online..but you have to participate in the community, too..try to make friends with other members and also share your knowledge on certain topics.

  6. Jaan Kanellis says:

    Great post for all those new to social media.

  7. marty says:

    I think you’ve done a brilliant thing here Shana, Providing people with a comprehensive list (Guide) & understanding of all things social media. Any person wanting to start a social media experience online taking on board what you said, they will have no trouble at all in starting a fantastic experience no matter which social media site they choose… Thanks :)

  8. Shana Albert says:

    @Glen – You’re welcome, Glen. Social Media can be very intimidating, but so much fun too. Thanks for leaving a comment. @Tanner – You are right… the first is a very important task. And, people who skip this part usually land up feeling that Social Media is unimportant or “not for them”. Glad you enjoyed the post, Tanner. @Al – You’re welcome, Al. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. @RedEvo – That is so True!! You are absolutely right. There is an equal balance of “give & take” and done with just “take” they will usually come out losing. @Jaan – Thank you so much. :) @Marty – Thank you so much, Marty. That is a wonderful thing to say. Social Media can be scary for many…. I’m hoping this will help some of these people to be less scared and jump on board the Social Media ride. :)

  9. Hillel says:

    This is a great map for those starting off with social media!

  10. Willy Lim - Financia says:

    Hi Shana, Your article on Social Media Marketing is one of the best I’ve come acrossed in the internet! Great job! Willy Lim

  11. David Temple says:

    Shana, you never cease to amaze me. Here you’ve stepped back from the forest and shown us the trees. This “primer” is going to all my clients who think that social media is as simple as a typical media buy. They give you money and expect a certain reach and frequency. But it’s all about the engagement and you are truly engaged! Thanks for sharing.

  12. Kristina says:

    Dear Shana, Thanks for a very good article. I am a newbie in Social Marketing sphere; started 5 months ago. Your post I found at Sphinn and it really helped me to understand how to organize my work and what I am up to. Especially, the distinction why using social media (for personal or business reasons) is very important. I’ve done some things that you listed under “wrong” already, so I became careful to understand the rules. This is very practical guideline for someone just starting in the Social Media.

  13. Shana Albert says:

    @Hillel, @Willy Lim – Thank you so much. I’m so glad you all enjoyed my post. @David Temple – I’m glad you enjoyed the post…. that is a wonderful compliment. I actually loved putting together this post and I think I will be writing about the basics more often. :) @Kristina – Don’t be too hard on yourself for doing some social media “wrongs”. Honestly, as a newbie you will make mistakes. But, it is what you do with those mistakes that really matter. As long as you make it a learning experience you will be fine. Keep in mind that a social media community is really no different than any community in reality. The members are forgiving as long as you are genuine and sincere. :)

  14. dr neen says:

    loved the tables. I will refer to your post in my courses so people can “get it” in a nutshell. thanks!

  15. Shana Albert says:

    @dr neen – I’m glad you liked the tables. I’m a very visual person and I always found tables, graphs and images the best when trying to explain something. Thank you for leaving the comment. :)

  16. Loc says:

    Some good tips, I just joined StumbleUpon because I’ve heard some great things about it, it’s so annoying when people just spam you and try and get you to buy their product without offering any real value first!

  17. Claris says:

    Nice post. I think the key to success in social media (well one important area anyway) is to join communities with a “what can I give” mindset as opposed to a “what can I get” mindset. To borrow a phrase from BNI (who no doubt borrowed it from somewhere else) givers gain.

  18. Andrew Burnett says:

    Brilliant Shana, I’ve found this a little later than most by the look of things – but grabbed the feeds for Hobo and SocialDesire now so I don’t miss any of your posts again! Having a begginer’s guide so complete and well structured will be a great help to many just starting out in social media. My wife is just such a beginner and is extremely chuffed to have your article :)

  19. Shana Albert says:

    @Loc – Thank you so much…. I’m very happy you enjoyed the tips. @Claris – “…the key to success in social media (well one important area anyway) is to join communities with a “what can I give” mindset as opposed to a “what can I get” mindset.” I totally agree!! I couldn’t have said it any better myself. :) @Andrew Burnett – Hey Andrew…. Thank you for letting me know how much you & your wife enjoyed my post. That is exactly why I wrote it and couldn’t be more thrilled for it to be useful for many. Thank you so much for subscribing to both Social Desire and Hobo’s blogs.

  20. Billigflug says:

    This is a great plot of how to use Web 2.0 efficiently. Moreover I like the way you structured the different media there are. Your whole website ist just awesome, I am gonna screen it now:)

  21. Dubai website says:

    Hi thanks for the nice information on social media. I think this is too much for starting seo game plan with social media and chart you provide is much helpful for beginners like me. Thanks this post make me regular visitor of your blog.



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