Preparing for Social Media Success, Part 2

This blog originally appeard on ASUG Leadership 2.0.

Back in June, I wrote a blog on Prepare for Social Media Success and the importance of building your “social” brand.

In the post, I referenced a story about my very first tweet.  This memory is still vivid for me – it was during SAPPHIRE NOW several years back and I was retweeting some content about the event. This moment remains clear in my head because it reminds me of 3 very important facts:

1. It is so very difficult to “put yourself out there.” I can still remember the butterflies in my stomach and the self-doubt – what would people think? What would they say?
2. It is so important to understand audiences and social channels. The simple fact of the matter was that #1 was moot because no one was listening to me anyway – I had no followers!
3. Social media is so darn powerful!  You see, that year I wasn’t even on-site at SAPPHIRE NOW. I simply followed and engaged in the Twitter conversation during those 3 days and it opened up a new world and new connections. Not only did I feel like I was there and part of the event, others did too! I received several messages asking to meet up for dinner.

The funny thing is, up until this point, I was a Twitter doubter. It felt overwhelming at first – but with a little time and thought, it has become one of the most powerful tools I use to connect with people and influencers on the topics that are important to me.

Here are some easy ways for you to start your own personal social journey and get the most out of some of the most common social channels.

1. Develop your Platform.
“Develop” might sound formal but there is value in self-reflection and answering some basic questions like – What is important to you? What do you care about? What are you passionate about? What are the stories that you like to share? Getting these on paper can help you figure out which spaces you will want to spend time in.

2. Define your Objectives
With the list of social networking channels growing by the minute you need to think about your objectives. In other words, what you want to accomplish in the social space?
Do you have a strong desire to write and share your knowledge and experiences? Perhaps you should consider blogging. With this comes identifying the blogging channels you will target – based on the audience you’d like to reach. For SAP topics, a perfect place to start is the SAP Community Network.

If you prefer to listen to or share short nuggets of information or content (in 140 characters or less), perhaps Twitter is the right channel for you. Do you want to connect and network with other professionals with a similar expertise? Then you should explore LinkedIn groups. Facebook is great if you want to connect more personally with colleagues, family, old classmates, and friends.

3. Find your audience
If you are talking about baseball to a group of folks passionate about knitting, likely you are losing people. So, it is really important to identify who cares. Do some basic audience research. Who are the people who care about your topic and who are the people you want to connect with? Is it industry peers? Is it influencers? Where do they spend their time?  If you can answer this it will narrow down where you should target your messages.

The possibilities here are endless. You can use LinkedIn groups. In Twitter, there are Tweet Chats where folks come together at a certain time to discuss a topic using a hash tag, and many more.

4. Engage and share appropriately.
If you’ve put some thought around 1-3, you are ready to engage. You might want to start by listening and following the conversations that are already happening out there.
In Twitter, start by downloading TweetDeck or another platform that synthesizes all of the content that is in Twitter.  Next, set up your columns by hash tags or search terms or lists. This helps you cut through the “noise” and only follow those discussions that are relevant to you.
In LinkedIn, start by building your profile with keywords from your platform, relevant work experience, and connect with others in your field. Explore groups focused on your topics of interest. If you join a group you can get email notifications and start discussions with other members.

When you are comfortable, start engaging more actively. In Twitter, add commentary to other’s tweets or share your own. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself what you are adding with your tweet – if you are sharing your perspective or new content then you are in good shape. If not, ask yourself if you are just contributing to the “noise.” And make sure to use a link shortening tool like bitly or TinyURL so you maximize your 140 characters. In LinkedIn, take a more active role in the discussions in your groups, comment on blogs, or initiate conversations.

When you are ready to share your own commentary and perspective remember those 4 tips I shared in my last blog – be nice, be authentic, be consistent, and be legal! Engaging in social space is a lot like talking with people in real life and the same rules apply. If you follow the golden rule and go in with an open mind, you will find your journey ripe with new people and new possibilities.

Photo credit – http://www.flickr.com/photos/axel-d/479627824/

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