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, Twitter, Linkedin, Google Plus, 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 certain social networks 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;
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)
The bottom line is 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.