5 Tips to Keep Your Head Above Water with Social Media

Staying afloat - inter tube in water

There are so many different avenues when it comes to social media, and for someone just getting her feet wet, it can really seem daunting.  That’s when you call on an expert, like Laura Click of Blue Kite Marketing, who can bring it all down to size.  If you haven’t dipped your toes in the social media waters, this guest post will give you the courage and steps you need.  Thanks, Laura!

Facebook. Twitter, YouTube. LinkedIn. Oh my! It’s certainly enough to make your head spin. Although social media offers considerable value to small businesses, it can be challenging to make sense of it all – especially while juggling everything it takes to run a successful business.

It can be very easy to get overwhelmed with social media even before you dive in. And, once you do, it can quickly consume your time and prevent you from doing the other necessary tasks to build your build your business.

So, how do you make sense of it all and keep your head above water? Although there’s not one simple answer, there are steps you can take to make sure social media doesn’t get the best of you.

Whether you’re still deciding to take the social media plunge or already knee deep in the social media pool, here are a few tips to keep you from drowning:

1. Determine your goals. Social media is much more than posting status updates and sharing pictures. The various tools can be used a number of powerful ways to boost your business – build your network of contacts, engage customers, offer customer support and drive traffic to your blog or website. To get the most out of your social media efforts, you need to decide what you are there to accomplish. If you’re not sure, pick one small goal to get started and work on that before adding more to it. This will help you keep your effort targeted and manageable.

2. Set expectations. Although social media can be used to expand your network and drive sales, don’t expect people to be beating your door down overnight. Just like any other marketing effort, social media is not a magic bullet. It’s something that takes time, effort and patience to develop. Make sure you are realistic with your expectations, especially at first. If you stick with it, you will see results over time.

3. Master one network at a time. So often, businesses are quick to open up profiles on every social network out there and then let them sit dormant because they don’t know what to do with them. No one says you have to use every social network. Pick the one that best meets the need of your business. Find out where your customers are and start there. Then, learn out how to best leverage that network for your business. If you need help, hire an expert, read some blogs or seek advice from peers. Whatever you do, take the time to learn how to use the tools so your efforts won’t be wasted.

4. Make it part of your routine. To truly get the most out of social media, you should incorporate it into your daily routine. The more you use it, the sooner you will get the hang of it and start to see results for your business.

5. Schedule your efforts. One of the challenges with social media is that it can be a huge time suck. Don’t let it. Schedule time every day and stick to it. For instance, you could concentrate on one task in the morning (i.e. share articles, find new people to connect with, answer comments) and focus on another in the afternoon. If you build a schedule and use your time accordingly, it will make your efforts more manageable and will help you stay on track.

What is your biggest challenge with social media? Do you get overwhelmed when trying to figure social media out? Share your thoughts in the comments and we’ll work through it together!

Laura Click - Blue Kite MarketingAbout Laura Click: Laura Click is founder and chief innovator at Blue Kite Marketing, a marketing and social media consulting group dedicated to helping small businesses grow. You can learn more about Laura by connecting with her on Twitter and checking out her blog.

9 Comments

  1. Posted July 6, 2011 at 6:07 am | Permalink | Reply

    Amazing post Laura and its good to see the way you have set things quite clear. The problem i have seen is that people think that it is another tool to get more sales from day one. There is no point in being an online salesman. You need to get ur community or followers in confidence. and that can be achieved with clear cut objectives as you have discussed.
    for me the challenge is managing my time on twitter as its my favorite 😀 though with time I have learnt a bit. thanks for the post and social media is all about experimentation and falling further. what say Laura ?

  2. Posted January 21, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The article is all valid, but certain parts have more value for different purposes. I’m at a turning point in my approach to job hunting. #3 and #5 have the most value for me. To me, they mean,

    a. Perfect your profile. Your profile on an SM site is your resume. Make sure it shines when recruiters find it.

    b. Search for the best way to locate open positions. Learn to use Twitter’s search function and to find job announcements in LinkedIn groups.

    c. I get a lot of self esteem from helping people by answering questions, but the ROI is zero. Figure out what activities do and do not get you interviews.

    d. A half day is WAY too much. Allocate more than a half hour only to activities that produce leads.

    SM and job-hunting experts have repeatedly told me to use SM to help people so somebody will notice and help me. I give up on that. Or, at least, I’m going to apply that advice a lot more narrowly.

    • Posted January 23, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Richard – Thanks for your comments. It sounds like you’ve already learned some valuable lessons about social media. Twitter search is definitely a valuable tool, so it sounds like you’ve discovered how to leverage that. And you’re right – spending all day on Twitter is not the best way to spend your time.

      Your social media efforts can indeed serve as a great way to attract potential employers. However, I would approach it a bit differently. Instead of helping people in hopes of them reciprocating and offering an interview, focus your efforts on becoming an expert in your niche. The more you can create credibility for yourself by sharing useful information for your industry or blogging about trends, you will show potential employers the value you can add.

      At the end of the day, social media is very helpful, but it shouldn’t be the only tool your toolbox for helping you find a job.

      Good luck with your search!

  3. Posted December 23, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Agreed! So many people want to use social media with NO expectation of return on investment.

    When using Social Media, automation is key. For example, altusem.blogspot.com is a blog that is almost totally automated. The weather, news, and Twitter feeds are all Really Simple Syndication feeds.

    Good post. Hope more will catch the dream and the impact of it.

    • Posted December 23, 2010 at 7:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for weighing in, Lloyd. It is all about expectations – you get out what you put in.

      I will disagree about automation. Although it can be very useful, completely automating your social media efforts can really dilute what you get from it. Because social media is meant to be “social”, you get the most from it when you interact with people on a human level. That’s been my experience. What do you think?

  4. Posted December 21, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Laura –
    I agree with the tips you have shared in your post. Many of my time management clients contact us with concerns over losing too much time on social media and your tips are right on target with what helps them. I have two more tips to share:

    1 – Automate where possible. For example, I do not manually syndicate my content to my social networks. I have automation tools in place that take care of the administrative functions of syndication and content publishing across my various networks. That way, when I am on the various accounts, I can spend my time more strategically by building relationships.

    2 – Make it easy for people to find you. Often people will set up their account on one social networking site and not use the available fields to reference other ways of connecting. I wrote a post with pictures to show what I mean. Productive & Organized: Communication Productivity Tip: Don’t Make People Search for You. http://t.co/TTMf6YD
    To your success!
    Stephanie

    • Posted December 21, 2010 at 10:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for weighing in, Stephanie. These are excellent tips! I think automation can be good if used with care. I think there can be some problems with doing that too much as people tend not to respond well to automatically posting one place and pushing it other places (i.e. Facebook posts going to Twitter). However, I think automation can be used in some instances in a way that makes sense.

      It’s all about looking for ways to save time where you can so you can focus your attention on the activities that matters. Building relationships certainly falls into that category!

      Thanks again!

  5. Posted December 21, 2010 at 8:40 am | Permalink | Reply

    Laura, Thank you so much for sharing your expertise! Social media can be overwhelming at times, especially for those just getting started. Your great tips make it all seem a bit more manageable. 🙂 Shannon

    • Posted December 21, 2010 at 10:38 am | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks so much for having me, Shannon! I hope that these tips make social media less daunting for your readers. It can really be a useful for growing your business – it just takes a little bit of planning to make it really work for you.

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