First let me make an important disclaimer. I know NOTHING about social media and have no training on the subject. This guide is for someone like me who has no idea how to use social media for spreading their message or it's value to their brand. Still interested? Ok, lets go...
The big question I suppose is why bother? I completely agree and was always against social networking as a way to spend my time, mostly because I never really "got it." As with many things my feeling is that if you can automate something in a way that it takes little to none of your time, than why not do it. If you get one thing from it than it's worth it and you'll smile because you didn't have to do anything to achieve it. Thanks to Twitter and Facebook, I have gotten corporate speaking gigs, students for my classes, new ideas for posts and content, as well as introductions to some really great people, and all without really paying attention to social media.
Content, Content, Content
So if you are starting from scratch and the only follower you have is your girlfriend and she only did it because you logged into her account for her and started following you, what are you supposed to do? Why would anyone want to listen to you or care about what you have to say? If 95% of social media is about posting, writing, interacting, and searching, than 5% should be about curating the best content possible. the idea is for you to 80/20 the crap out of that ration and spend the majority of your efforts of finding and sharing the absolute best, most interesting, and not to be missed content around. Regardless of your industry, your goal, or your experience, you can be a beacon of light in the midst of the massive information overload people deal with every day. Thousands of emails, hundreds of blog posts, phone calls, television, and podcasts are simply too much for any one person to handle. You can be the breathe of fresh air they need so they feel like they are "in the know."
Your sources should ideally be something that you really do know about and hopefully enjoy absorbing. It doesn't matter if it's some obscure Japanese magazine on innovative packaging techniques, or an AM radio channel about car problems. If you find it interesting you may be a good curator of that content. In my case I go through about 1000 blog posts per day covering personal productivity, psychology, wellness, food, and other innovations. I find these things interesting and I share only the best content in my opinion.
Sharing and Growing Your Network
I've written about IFTTT countless times but it really is the most incredible tool here and the service that took me from zero twitter follows to over 15,000, roughly 2,600 likes on the Less Doing Facebook page, and thousands of visitors to my blog. You can see several of my shared IFTTT recipes to get an idea of how I use it but the most important one is that when I STAR an item in Google Reader which takes about a quarter of a second and can be done from the browser of my iphone while I walk the dog, almost a dozen things will happen. The item I thought was cool will be blasted out to Twitter, LinkedIn, FaceBook, blog posts, delicious, etc... basically it creates an immediate ripple in the social web. So that's all you have to do, three to four thousand times. That may seem like a big number but you were reading this stuff anyway right? And at a quarter of a second for each STAR it's really not a big deal. Once you hit a certain amount of exposure it will take over and people will do the sharing for you, building your network automatically and expanding exponentially.
Tools for Managing Your New Realm
Now I still don't know much about social networking so these are the tools I use to manage everything.
- Nutshell Mail - Sends me an email summary on the schedule I choose of ALL new social media activity
- Mention Notifier - Sends you an immediate notification if someone mentions you or your brand and lets you reply or retweet right from the email
- TweetDeck - This Chrome add on gives you a very manageable dashboard of your social media activity in real time so if you feel like being on top of things you can let it run in the background
- HARO - Help A Reporter Out is a thrice daily newsletter of reporters looking for sources, great opportunity for you to get some exposure on a topic you know about, for a paid version check out MuckRack
- Buffer - I don't want you spending all day sharing content, and your audience doesn't want 40 things to read in one hour. Buffer will spread out your posts on your various networks and give you analytics to boot
- HelloBar - A subtle bar that shows up at the top of your website with your latest tweet or any other relevant information, gets a surprising amount of attention
- Quora - If you know you're stuff than you should be answering questions on Quora, it's interesting, fun, and exposes you as a source of knowledge to a HUGE audience very quickly
- Tweetily - This plugin for wordpress will automatically repost archive posts at set intervals. Maybe you wrote a killer post when you had three followers and no one cared, now you have 1000 followers and they love it so much they spread the word.
- Newsle - Email digest of all of your social media friends who have appeared in the news that day, great opportunity to connect and pay it forward by spreading the word about them
- Rapportive - Excellent Gmail plugin that gives you relevant information on the person your are currently emailing including their latest social media blasts, another great opportunity to connect.
- FollowerWonk - Analyze your twitter followers to connect with the right people and even determine best times to tweet.
So again, all of these tools are based on trying to have as little, but also the most effective involvement with social media as possible. Let me know what tools you use with your networks.