Quick take on this blog: To my many friends and colleagues who are still skeptical about social idea: it’s easier and much more rewarding than you think. There are some good links here.
Remember when Facebook first opened to people who weren’t in college (mid-2007)? I joined it to stay in touch with my daughters, who still wish it was “just for kids,” by the way.
I joined LinkedIn about the same time. I’ve used Wikipedia for years, too. But it wasn’t until the middle of 2009 that I realized that I shouldn’t be using social media just for social or career networking. (Click on that link to see a neat video by Common Craft.) No, I needed to use it to grow my own business and help my clients.
And that’s when social media started keeping me awake at night.
A number of clients and colleagues told me that they don’t understand social media and don’t have time for it. I had similar feelings but feared that I was in danger of becoming out of touch as a writer, marketer, and fundraiser. So after months of angst, I decided that the best way to discover the value (if any) was to just dive in.
I started with what I already knew, LinkedIn. I made new connections, expanded my profile, installed more apps, explored more features, joined more groups. LinkedIn was especially helpful in connecting to excellent resources through their Social Media Today group.
I also joined networks that utilized Ning. Ning is very effective for connection and collaboration, especially among nonprofits and advocacy groups.
So far, so good. But then I tried Twitter—and this is where I made a mistake. I thought it was for personal networking and “self-expression.” But I struggled with what to say and how often to say it, and slogged through 50+ tweets a day on topics that didn’t interest me from a few active friends. The rest of my friends never tweeted. And I was not about to follow Ashton Kutcher just to have something to read.
I had nearly abandoned Twitter when I noticed links to it on the websites of people and groups I respected. So I began following those bloggers, journalists, and marketers.
Now I have them all neatly organized into lists and view everything through HootSuite. (HootSuite also keeps me organized on Facebook and LinkedIn.) I also subscribe to their blogs through email and RSS.
These connections led to an unexpected discovery. For me, social media is a way to—finally!—harness the power of the web. Thousands of pages of highly useful information are now available in a manageable form. I just have to sign up, pay attention, prioritize, and bookmark. (Check back another time for some pointers on social bookmarking.)
My point: to get started in social media, you don’t have to know everything about it. Just know what you want to learn—because you’ll certainly find it there, sooner or later. And don’t be afraid to experiment.
My latest foray into social media is this blog. Still, I’m going to do more listening than talking, because that’s where the power of social media really lies. And when I hear something really compelling, I’ll tell you about it.
Have you been stumped by social media? Gotten over the hump? Share your experience in a comment here.
P.S. I just read another great article for skeptics, Social Media is Simpler Than You Think.