This post is by Heidi Cohen, president of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
Are you part of the social media silent majority? Do you hesitate to participate — either as an individual or as the manager of an organization who reads and observes what’s happening in the social media sphere? Do you want to break out of your social media shell? If so, here are 10 suggestions that you may remember from high school to help you ease into social media participation.
Pick your playground. Decide how you want to position yourself on the social media platforms you wish to participate in. Do you want to keep your professional and personal lives separate? Position yourself for where you want to be.
Wear the uniform. Stake out your name on various social media platforms. If you have a common name, consider how you will distinguish yourself. How will you brand yourself on social media? Think tag lines, background colors, photographs, videos and links.
Realize that you’re not alone. On each platform, find your family and friends for personal interactions and customers and colleagues for business engagement. Reach out to them on these platforms and personalize your communications. This is an easy way to develop a social media tribe and catch up at the same time.
Mind your manners. Social media is small talk on a public online platform that has a very long memory. Remember people’s birthdays to show you care. Comment on people’s walls, the social media equivalent of chit-chat. But don’t overshare — even your mother doesn’t want to know everything you’re doing.
Learn the lingo. Remember how the cool kids had their own verbal shorthand? So do social media networks such as Twitter. It’s just the social media version of pig Latin. Also, note that some social media platforms allow many-to-many communications in addition to one-to-one and one-to-many.
Join extracurricular activities. Like in high school, here’s where the action is. This is the path to joining the in-crowd. Among the places to look are Facebook fan pages, LinkedIn Groups and Twitter Chats. Here, I strongly recommend #UsGuys and #TweetDiner since they’re welcoming to new members.
Share your knowledge. Like helping others during study hall, here’s where you can contribute to the community and show what you know. While no one likes a show-off, social media networks have the goal of sharing useful information and entertaining content. For example, provide insights on LinkedIn Questions and Answers, or add your feedback on ratings and review sites like TripAdvisor.
Pay it forward. Get over yourself! Social media’s about the community, not you. To this end, help others with targeted information, retweet other people’s more interesting tweets, and comment on other people’s blogs. Also, think about recommending former and current colleagues, staff and bosses on LinkedIn.
Be the star of your social media story. Use videos and photographs to build an online version of yourself that’s more engaging and outgoing. Invite others to engage with you and your business.
Make a date to get together. Unlike all of the above-mentioned actions that you can do from the comfort of your desk, this means actually getting out from behind your computer and meeting people in real life. Use MeetUp to find other like-minded people and activities that are fun and helpful to your business. Meeting your social media buddies face to face is a great way to strengthen relationships.
Realize that social media isn’t a passing fad. It’s how we communicate today. Even if platforms like Facebook and Twitter go away, social media is here to stay. Get out there and socialize to expand your personal and business networks (or just to better stay in touch with what’s happening in your field of interest).
What else can social media introverts do to get in the game?