5 Tips for Those New to Social Media

Posted on May 4, 2011 by kennynorton 1 Comment

I’ve had the pleasure of working with one of the leading social media analytic companies – Sysomos, and deal with new clients every single day with varying levels of experience with Social Media. Before Sysomos I did a variety of social media consulting gigs and presentations and I’ve been able to learn a lot about the industry, and I’ve also been asked the same question quite frequently recently – “What NOW?”. I’ve decided to put together a quick list of 5 tips to optimize your social media experience to get out of the gate and look like you’ve been doing it for years.

1. Profile Picture

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve come across a Twitter profile or a LinkedIN profile where someone who I am interested in networking with or adding on an additional social network doesn’t actually use a profile picture, and then I proceed to close the browser window and never think of them again. It allows you to put a face to a name, and also when networking with prospective clients it has a personal touch and adds trust. I’ve heard the “what if I don’t want them to know what I look like” response, and perhaps you shouldn’t be on the network at all. I’ve also heard the response “I don’t have any polished pictures of me” and continue to put it off until that occurrence that they have drawn up in their head where there photographer friend will just casually run in to them by chance when they’re dressed up and snap their new LinkedIN profile picture. It’s likely never going to happen. If you have anything remotely casual (that doesn’t involve you doing a kegstand), use it until you run in to that photographer friend.

This seems really basic, but you wouldn’t believe the amount of people who still don’t have a profile picture for Twitter or LinkedIN and wonder why they have no connections or followers. While you’re at it, update you Twitter Background as well, don’t use one of the defaults if you would like to give your profile a little bit of personality. 5 Minutes of effort can go a long way.

2. Follow Others – Engage

Another question I get a lot is “How do I get more followers”.  It’s actually pretty simple, follow more people and post engaging content, consistently. Notice how I didn’t mention that you should buy them! Or you should use shenanigans like “#TeamFollowBack” which is merely just a bunch of people who care nothing about the content in their stream but are obsessed with the number of followers they have. I’ll assure you, this is the worst possible thing you can do and most likely will ruin Twitter for you. So please don’t even consider it! : ).

How do you follow more people you don’t know? A couple of solutions. You most likely know a few people on twitter already, view who they are following and talking to, and very quickly you have a resource of people who you might know, or at least post content you might be interested in.

Secondly, you can use sites like WEFollow.com to find users that are interested in the same things that you are. You can type in things like “Toronto” or “Toronto Maple Leafs”, and very quickly you can follow and engage with people who either have listed “Toronto” as one of their primary interests. This site is actually how I managed to find a lot of users that are interested in social media, product management and start ups, things not many of my friends are interested in (publicly), and now I have a nice Twitter Eco-system with similar interests as me.

3. Track Your Clicks

As mentioned above one of the most important ways to gather more followers is to post engaging content. How do you know if your content is engaging? You could rely on the number of Retweets and @Replys you get on Twitter. But there’s really no telling how much impact it had. There’s a quick solution to this, there are many link shortening services that provide analytics and insights on the number of clicks you receive, as well as where those clicks are coming from.

My personal favorite is bit.ly and it does an excellent job of telling me what content is being recieved best, and also what is not received well. And if I share that link on multiple sites (I.E Facebook or Linkedin and Twitter) I can measure where those links are coming from. Based on these statistics I personally think it will give you motivation to share more, because you know your audience cares about the content you share, regardless if they respond or Re tweet it.

4. Don’t Sync – “Don’t play Heavy Metal at a Jazz Bar”

Often times when people get really excited about having a Twitter account they want to sync it to Facebook and Linkedin and get as many views as possible, and also they think it’s cool that they have a Twitter account. Well, get this, people do NOT want to read your tweet about the bad hangover you have on Linkedin – which is primarily a professional network. And most likely all of your friends on Facebook don’t want to read every single blog post from your company blog – which is traditionally more of a personal and family network. So the key here is “Don’t play Heavy Metal at a Jazz Bar” – (@UnMarketing). Know your audience, and don’t get lazy. On Linkedin especially you never know who you could offend, from bosses to clients. Your friends are most likely already sick of your posts are have blocked you altogether.

There is a great solution to this, and it’s called “Selective Tweets”. Through certain apps you can select the tweets you would like to be sent to Facebook (by using “#FB) or Linkedin (by using #LI) in the tweet you would like to be pushed to that network. This way you have control over the one’s you think would be appropriate to share with, and thus playing the appropriate genre of “music” or posting the appropriate tone of conversation with the correct audience. This blog post does a wonderful job of giving you a variety of options and instructions to set up Selective Tweets.

When in doubt, just post it twice. But never, sync two major social networks together.

5. Use it Consistently

It’s important to use the platform consistently. If you open a Twitter or a Linkedin check in every so often. Set up email updates as well so you will receive notifications when new connections add you, or send you messages/replies. If you only check in every Monday, if someone sends you a message or connection request on Tuesday and they don’t get a response until 6 days later, most likely they won’t take the initiative to talk with you again.

How do you do it? A couple of things. Get a Desktop Application: like Tweetdeck or Seesmic these will keep you updated on a stream of the people you follow, any lists you have created and also any responses. I’ve found that once anyone has this set up, they’re more likely to continue using Twitter as it is just a better user experience than the official Twitter page, and allows you to keep an eye on multiple things in a timely manner.

Most smartphones come with a native Twitter app as well, this is another great way to ensure your consistency. On your morning commute, or when you’re waiting in line you now have your Twitter stream to be connected on the go.

What do you post? Do you read blogs or news online? Chances are, you do. Share them, and track them using  a link shortener to view the clicks behind it. If someone posts an article you end up reading and learning from, Re-Tweet it, or write them a reply. Engage with them, and I think you will find the results satisfying and ultimately enrich the experience.

So with that I leave you with 5 tips to turn you from a social media noob to a social media rockstar. I hope you were able to learn a thing or to, and if you have some other tips that you think would add value for those that are new to the world of social media that I’ve left out, feel free to leave them in the comments.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=688772203 Eileen Berardini

    I have twitter linked to my facebook.  Then I felt a little uncomfortable having all my tweets going to facebook, since often I’m tweeting more often than posting.  Your blog cleared up this question for me.  Thanks.  @emberardini:disqus