Getting started on Social Media… what worked for me :)

As an e-worker, its more important than ever to stay digitally connected and to build strong supportive networks both inside the enterprise and externally across the industry. In my earlier blog post “Be Virtual & Visible” I talked about enterprise social networks, so in this post I thought I would talk about external social networks. When deciding to engage with social media the first question you have to ask yourself is Why? When asking this question there are a few things to recognize:

  • The end goal is different for everyone and it’s critical that you decide your own personal goal upfront before you start engaging. It may be that you are want to learn more about your industry from global experts in the field, you may be looking to sell a product, to find a new job, or to position yourself as a subject matter expert in your field. Whatever your personal goal, its critical that you have identifed it up-front as it will be key in deciding how to most effectively engage.
  • Social Media is all about individuals. Engaging on social media is very different than other channels and is a much more personal. This doesn’t mean that you need to tell people what you had for breakfast :-) but does mean that the style of interacting is likely to be more casual. Social media is all about sharing your opinions, whether its about business, technology, or your favorite wines.
  • It is about your personal brand. I know this is a somewhat uncomfortable concept for many of us, but the reality is that we all have a personal brand. In your daily life you may be considered the helper (who people go to when they are in trouble), the comedian (that’s always there to cheer someone up), or the techno-nerd (that your friends come to when they need a new phone or TV). Before starting with social media think about how you want to be recognized in this virtual world, which brings us back to your original goal. So if you want to position yourself as a subject matter expert make sure to keep on topic, make your comments thoughtful, and the content you share or create high quality.
  • It is a journey for the long haul, so start slowly but start with the end in mind! Looking back at my own experience of engaging with social media over the last few years, I see that it was a gradual process where my level of interaction increased incrementally over time as I gained more confidence. The process I’m going to describe below is not something I “designed”, but is rather reverse engineered from my looking back over my last few years on social media. I can’t promise that this approach will work for everyone, but it seems to have worked for me. Also, since it’s looking back I’m referencing tools that I used at the time. Things may have moved on so I can’t guarantee they are the best the market has to offer today.
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