A former marketing manager of a top two food and drinks company anonymously observed that while working for the company:
“Facebook and Twitter were treated as though they were the most mysterious technology to ever exist.”
Then you, or your company, most likely have a fearful approach to social media.
“Fearful leaders see social media as a threat to productivity, intellectual capital, privacy, management authority, regulatory compliance and a host of other things, and often discourage and even prohibit its use.”
Don’t panic. You’re not alone. Over a third of businesses get the hijeebies around social media according to a recent study published by the Harvard Business Review.
Social media is scary. It’s new territory. It’s like your first day at school, but without your Mom holding your hand and telling you everything will be okay. All around are lots of cool kids who know what they’re doing, and you don’t know where you fit in.
Be not afraid. Taking one step at a time, you can become one of the social media cool kids. Here’s how.
How to Banish the Social Media Fear
Start gently. Dip your toes in the water. Social media is about learning through play. You try it out, maybe make a few mistakes, and have heaps of fun along the way. Don’t worry, you can’t break anything.
If you’re a complete social media newbie, I recommend starting with Twitter, and creating a personal account where you can practice, and mistakes don’t matter. Visit Twitter.com and click “Sign Up”. You’ll need to choose a username and a password. Adding a photo and biography is optional, but recommended if you want to attract followers. Twitter guides you through the process of following people. For a week or so, spend a few minutes every day logged into Twitter. Use it as a place to find news and interesting articles.
Here are a few great accounts to follow to get you started:
- CNN Breaking News
- The New York Times
- Random Facts. Does what it says on the tin.
- The Word of the Day. Vocabulary enhancing.
- Brian Clark. Internet marketing expert.
- Social Caffeine. That’s us!
Start a conversation. On Twitter you can send a message to anyone. This is called an @message, and you send it by starting your tweet with @username. If you want to send a message to Barack Obama, you’d start your Tweet @BarackObama. Social media is about being social, so start talking to interesting people (they don’t have to be celebrities, and they’re more likely to reply if they’re not) as soon as you feel comfortable.
Ask questions. Most people on Twitter are friendly, and many will answer questions you post to your Twitter feed. Questions are a great way to start a group conversation. Also, answer the questions of others.
Become a teacher. Once you’ve spent a couple of weeks on Twitter and got to grips with the basics, offer to help someone else get started on Twitter. You’ll surprise yourself at how much you’ve already learned. If they ask any questions you don’t know the answer to, offer to find out. Search Google or Twitter to find the information you need.
Keep reading. Social media is always new and always changing. Even the social media gurus learn something new everyday. Read social media blogs (including this one!).
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway
The more time you spend on social media, the faster you’ll discover there’s nothing to be afraid of. Once you’ve mastered Twitter, you’re ready to move on to set up a Facebook page or a Pinterest pin board.
When you look beneath the covers of social media, you’ll find out there’s no boogeyman here. Just fun times to be had, great people to meet, and – if you play this right, with your business hat on – money to be made.
Over to You
We’d love to hear from some social media newbies. What are you learning as you plunge into Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest? What do you struggle with? What would you like to know more about?
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