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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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?

Image credit: asiseeit, via iStockphoto

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20 Responses to “10 tips for social media introverts”

  1. [...] SmartBlog on Social Media – Best Practices and Case Studies on Social Media Marketing for Busi… [...]

  2. @russ_dean says:

    This is a great post, Heidi. At first brush, someone who is an introvert in real life may feel very intimidated to dive into something as personal as social media. As an IRL introvert myself, I've had to step far outside my comfort zone to not become, as you put it, a "social media intorvert" as well (shameless plug: I did write a blog post about how it feels: http://www.socialmediabrat.com/?p=26) . However, once you learn to step out of that zone, you begin to realize that it's a great space and that positive reinforcement rules. I've learned that the "social media cool kids" are the ones who share and that stepping out of introversion in social media can yield great results professionally.

    • heidicohen says:

      Russ – Thank you for sharing your personal experience. The introverts among my colleagues and students face this hurdle. It's useful to know that it's easier to become a social media extrovert than in real life. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  3. Sue-s says:

    Thanks for the helpful post, Heidi. Fortunately for me, social media rules are much easier to learn and apply than the social rules of high school.
    My recent post Tempted to give up on Lent

  4. @RachelMacik says:

    I rarely tell people happy birthday on facebook.. is that mean? I totally agree with the uniform and the lingo. Very important! Here is how I'm using it for PR: http://bit.ly/PRStalker (And look, I'm paying it forward to YOU! :)
    My recent post How far is too far Obsession with analytics and feedback

    • heidicohen says:

      Rachel–On social media platforms, you still need to be yourself. Where friends and colleagues list their birthdays and other events like births and new jobs, I like to add to the festivities. That said, it's important to be yourself. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen
      My recent post 31 Public Relations Definitions

  5. I would suggest watching/following the "cool" people and see what they post and how they interact with others. After a while you'll develop an instinct for it and then it becomes natural. I agree with Russ, you really need to step out of your comfort zone on this but it's worth it!

  6. heidicohen says:

    Eunice—Thank you for the suggestion. I think that it's a good one. Watching the "in" crowd is useful until you develop a sense for what's acceptable. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen
    My recent post 31 Public Relations Definitions

  7. Janel says:

    Love the high school analogy! I especially like #10 – social media becomes so much more real when you get to meet (face to face) those people you've been blogging/tweeting/chatting with through social media. It opens doors that never would have existed without all the new connections we can make and it brings networking (and friendships) to a whole new level.
    My recent post Raw Organic Cafe

  8. Vegas says:

    I have only recently opened myself up the web, rather than being an introvert and being un sure of whether to tell the whole world about myself. I have decided to be open as information is freely available about me anyway and if I'm just positive about it then it should outweigh any negative stuff that turns up

  9. heidicohen says:

    Vegas — Thank you for sharing your personal insights. I think that this move will pay off for you. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen
    My recent post 31 Public Relations Definitions

  10. [...] SmartBrief on Social Media newsletter, they featured an article by Heidi Cohen, “10 tips for social media introverts.” The post reads more like a comparison between the worlds of social media and school. If [...]

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  12. You might not be an introvert right off the bat. Many companies fall into a hole when they don't have a clear focus. It's a huge world out there i.e. Twitter – remember to set objectives and goals for your campaigns!

  13. @mortgageyyc says:

    Great article and fantastic tips! Thanks for sharing. These are helpful not only for Social Media intorverts but also to those newer to Social Media like myself. Wishing you continued success in all you do!

  14. [...] 1. 10 Tips for Social Media Introverts, Smartblogs. [...]

  15. I definitely have to agree with 9 and 10. Standing out from the rest, even if you find yourself a social media introvert, is a great way, if not the best, for you to distinguish yourself from the crowd. However, it requires you to get out of your shell and be outgoing.

    Of course, if you are in a social media, you have to be like others– be sociable. Meetup is the great tool for the online community to meet with the rest of the social media crowd and to shift the engagement from online to offline. The engagement then evolves in a cycle in which the social media crowd can be more comfortable with their community.

    My recent post Why Nokia outsourced Symbian developments to Accenture

  16. jvanpelt says:

    So your advice to social media introverts is to be extroverts?