“Long before it became the commercialized mass information and entertainment juggernaut it is today, long before it was accessible to the general public, and certainly many years before Al Gore claimed he “took the initiative in creating” it, the Internet – and its predecessors – were a focal point for social interactivity.
Granted, computer networking was initially envisioned in the heyday of The Beatles as a military-centric command and control scheme. But as it expanded beyond just a privileged few hubs and nodes, so too did the idea that connected computers might also make a great forum for discussing mutual topics of interest, and perhaps even meeting or renewing acquaintances with other humans. In the 1970s, that process began in earnest.”
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We’ve come a long way from the Bulletin Board system and ClassMates and SixDegrees – who even remembers those anymore?
It’s not debatable anymore that businesses must be on social media. It’s a simple fact.
Basically when people use the term ‘social media’ today, they usually mean networks like Facebook and don’t realize it’s actually a lot more that that. Therefore I want to start with the terminology, and what does the term ‘Social Media’ actually refer to.
‘SOCIAL’ means interaction, ‘MEDIA’ means tools and platforms used to store and deliver information or data
Social Media is everything that justifies both those terms:
Niche forums, blogs and blog network sites such as Blogger, WordPress.com or BlogHer.com,
microblogs like Twitter, SportsTracker or HeiaHeia, networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Skype etc.
- Collaboration, building authority and sharing information:
Social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon,
document managing, editing and sharing services like Google Docs, SlideShare or scribd etc.
Yelp, Yahoo Answers, Wikis, HubPages, TripAdvisor etc.
- Entertainment, education, inspiration:
Video sharing on YouTube and Vimeo, or live stream, photo sharing on Instagram,
music and audio share, podcasting etc.
- Navigation (think Waze), Apps, Games and so on
So it’s about interaction that’s happening on platforms and using tools that masses of people have an access to.
There’s a great deal of localized variety as well, plus all kinds of niche blogs and forums most of us have never even heard of (here’s an exhaustive, yet not nearly complete list of social media platforms from 2010). Some of them of course grow more popular than others.
Having said that, it’s simply impossible for any business to have a presence ‘everywhere’ so there’s no reason to believe all the most populars are a ‘must’, either.
You only need to be where your audience is.
Keep an open mind, conduct a thorough research and use imagination when determining the right options for your business!
What’s most important is to provide with great quality content, stay consistent with your messages and be helpful and respectful.
Social Media Experts
I personally would never even imagine calling myself a social media expert, simply because the term in fact covers quite a lot. I don’t believe such people even exist who would be experts on everything on the list, do you?
I think that the more accurate term in most cases would be ‘social networking expert’, ‘communications expert’ etc. since the self-claimed social media experts usually have focused on the few popular sites.
But that’s enough about the terminology.
The survey I conducted last December revealed that the readers of this blog would like me to write more about social media.
Naturally I have been teaching my clients the basics about different platforms: How and where to do research, how to create the profiles, characteristics of each platform, what to post where and when, how to create a social media marketing plan, how to track, what to measure – things like that.
However, there’s already an abundance of blogs that are focused on the topic and love sharing their expertise, so I rather share blogs and articles me and my clients have found helpful.
Easiest way to keep on the loop on those in the future is to follow me on Twitter.
This article is just scratching the surface and starts from the basics.
If you’re a social media rookie, here’s what I recommend
This tutorial explains what it is, what’s the value your business can get out of it, gives you best practices, explains how to measure the ROI (return of investment), gives an overview to the most popular networks and even goes a little beyond those.
This resource is a collection of articles regarding the specifics of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Blogging and Podcasting.
is still amusing and informative even if it’s a few years old already! Some things just never change.
These are some of my own observations:
Optimizing your profiles
When you’re creating the profiles, things to consider are
Internet is very visual, so you definitely want to pay attention to this.
Google to check out the measurements, which tend to change every once in a while. Make sure your cover photos and profile images are great quality and have a maximum impact.
If you want to brand yourself as home made, you can use home made cover photos, too. But if graphic design isn’t your thing and you need to look professional, pay a pro to help you. Guys on Fiverr do it cheap and fast!
Before placing any orders for images, browse the sites for references you like and what you don’t like and really think about your message. For instance on Facebook the vast majority of images may look nice on the actual page, but once the page link is posted on a discussion board where it shrinks to a thumbnail, it’s not complementing the business anymore.
Whenever possible, use a picture of you on your profile instead of the company logo. After all, social media is about people connecting with people.
Take a look at this infographic for some of the measurements in 2014. It will also reveal the best times to post on each popular platform!
Descriptions and Bios
There may be limitations so check those out before writing anything. Each platform needs an optimized version and the only common nominator is that you should include some keywords on your bio or description.
Forget jargon and instead make sure the person who reads it knows what you actually do. The easiest way to put it is this:
“I/We help/support/teach [who] to [achieve this desired outcome]”
or start with a question: “Are you struggling with [your topic]? If so [call to action]”.
Completing the Profile
Share as much information as you can about your business: Who are you, what do you do, where are you located (if that’s relevant), why should someone work with you, how to get in touch with you etc.
There are a lot of opinions about reserving your business name on every platform you can think of. I would say that you can do that, as long as you complete each and every profile. You don’t want to be as “egghead” on Twitter, even if you’re not actively tweeting. That just makes you look bad.
When you’re placing the “connect with me” suggestions on your website, choose the ones you’re planning to stay (at least somewhat) active on. Otherwise it’s really no point.
If it turns out you don’t have time for all of them, don’t hesitate to remove the inactive ones from your own website. As I said before: You don’t have to be everywhere, but you rather have to focus and stay consistent.
You’re using different content on different platforms: Text, links, images, videos etc. Text length varies from 140 characters on Twitter to thousands of words on blogs. Optimal image sizes and shapes vary as well.
If your audience likes to browse the sites with a smartphone rather than a desktop computer, that’s something to consider, too.
Keep in mind that quality is far more important than quantity and if you want your content to be shared on social media, make it sharable by design. A great deal of content can be spread accross multiple platforms and there are tools that do that pretty much automatically.
You have to start somewhere. Social media is no longer an option for businesses, it’s a necessity. So conduct a research, find one or two platforms you feel comfortable with and start connecting.