When I was 16, I called the phone company and ordered a phone line to be installed in my bedroom. Following a successful installation, I enjoyed a good 3 or 4 days of teen-girl-gab until mom (who wasn’t privy to the installation transaction—whoops) pulled the plug. When the standard one week grounding expired, I was once again relegated to calls during “permitted” hours and notes passed in homeroom.
It was those days of my youth where I could spend hours on the phone, talking about everything and nothing at all, that prepped me for my current geekish life as a social media addict. I never thought I’d be a geek, but since Mike Volpe can admit he’s a Twitter crack whore, I feel it’s time I admitted I’m a social media geek girl. Though I’ve graduated to a cell phone, I’ve plugged-into conversations in ways I never anticipated.
Mother of pearl, pass the gravy. I do love me some social media.
I Tweet, I Stumble, and I do a ton of other stuff,
oh-so-privately yet oh-so-publicly.
It’s akin to that episode of Sex in the City where Miranda dates the guy who’s gets a rise (literally) out of the thrill of being “caught doing it.” Deep inside, there are days it feels a bit dirty…like I’m going to get caught.
all these private conversations with strangers
the little giggles, smiles from the jokes
Should I truly, as a 35-year old woman, derive this much pleasure from electronic communications?
Yes. I should.
And now, you can, too!
See, social media isn’t just for teenagers or fans of rock bands. It’s not merely about online dating or posting stupid emoticons on someone’s “bulletin board.” It’s about connecting with people and investing in information.
This weeks blog is dedicated to YOU, the social media newbie. Perhaps your teenage daughter has a MySpace page and you have no bleeping idea what that is. Maybe you have to listen to your colleague talk about how he keeps connecting with friends from college on Facebook (when you harbored serious doubts he ever graduated high school). Whatever your situation, I’m going to show you 3 easy social media sites to feed your inner child, connect you with the world, and enjoy a new level of communication you never thought possible. I’ll also review both the personal and business applications of each site. Always helps to know what’s in it for YOU, right? Let’s roll!
Facebook is an easy-to-use online social media application that was initially designed to be an online “yearbook” to connect school alumni. However, its applications and capabilities have morphed into a cool tool that not only lets you connect with old friends but make new introductions and see who’s updating what and when in their Facebook profile. You never know with whom you’re going to get back in touch, and for that matter THROUGH whom. If you’re completely new to social media, start with Facebook. Their registration process will guide you completely thorugh filling out your information, uploading photos and how to find people you might know thorugh your existing address books.
- Connect with old school friends and business acquaintences, easily accomplished by searching by email or name. Everyone on Facebook uses their REAL NAME (which -gasp- might freak some of you out).
- The cool feeling that stems from seeing what happened to the class bully, valedictorian and the pain in the ass secretary at your first job out of college. Satisfy your “inner snicker.”
- A forum with a grown-up texture that’s, for the most part, free of bullshit, hookers and spam.
- Your profile can only be viewed by those whom you’ve given permission. Otherwise, all folks can see is a thumbnail pic, a school name and perhaps a city of residence. Privacy that provides access is nice sometimes.
- Facebook is an excellent place for your business to establish an online presence and build a following. You can establish a “group” for customers or fans of the services you provide and send messages to them advising of new services, capabilities and developments.
- Another backlink to your company’s website. Backlinks are great for search engine rankings boosts, and a quality link like one on Facebook is nothing but net.
- Facebook helps you stay in touch with other professionals and maintain valuable business relationships. Whether you’re on the move or a long-timer with your current employer, it can never hurt to consolidate your contacts in an application other than Outlook!
Perhaps THE most powerful social networking/social media tool for professionals, LinkedIn’s platform is tops. More like an online resume and self-contained microsite, your LinkedIn profile includes such key business stats as your employers (past & present), what you’re working on, what you’re looking for in business relationships and your key qualifications. Though the personal, purely social applications for LinkedIn are limited (it’s not a “chatty” site) I simply cannot imagine a single business professional who would not benefit from a LinkedIn account, and here’s why:
- Your profile acts as a perpetual online resume. You never know who needs you, for when and for how much!
- Reviews & Recommendations: As we’re well into the age of endorsement-based marketing, what better way to let your customers, clients, patients or prospective employers know that you know your shizzat than through having your colleagues and business partners give you a recommendation that’s attached to your profile? Powerful stuff.
- Introductions: No matter what your industry, there’s always someone whom you’d like or need to meet. Through LinkedIn, you can identify which of your Connections may be connected with the person you seek and request an introduction from that person. If you can’t see how this is useful, then I highly recommend a job in public sanitation.
- Groups: From marketing professionals to C-level execs to work-at-home moms, stay in touch with like-minded folks through a myriad of Groups. If you’re hosting a webinar, conference, get together or something of the sort, don’t miss a valuable opportunity to stay connected. If you’re a business, consider establishing a Group to bring together your contacts and build your marketing database. For example, HubSpot (a company whose webinars and blogs I follow closely – also hosts of the upcoming Inbound Marketing Summit) has two groups – one on Facebook and one on LinkedIn.
- Built-in Email & Communications Platform: Need to have an offline, yet online, conversation? Most social media/social networking applications have email and messaging systems as a part of their features and LinkedIn is no exception. Whether you’re gauging interest of a candidate to join your company who currently works for a competitor or just want to dish about the details of a recent conference, the messaging capabilities are confidential and can, if you’d like, copy your email address on file.
First of all, you’ve gotta see the cool “Twitter in Plain English” video, available on their home page by clicking the big red “watch a video” button.
Simply stated, Twitter is a micro-blogging tool that limits your entries to 140 characters. Messages are called “Tweets.” Whatever your whimsy, type it in! At first glance, it may seem unclear or useless to you, but I’m on Twitter at least 10 hours a day for both personal and professional reasons. Todd Defren of SHIFT Communications published an interesting article Get Into Twitter or Get Out of Public Relations and Jeremiah Owyang recently wrote on FriendFeed & Twitter. While the platform itself has it’s…ahem…ongoing technical issues, there are those of us not unlike Mike Volpe that are crack whores for the daily candy dished-out on this awesome site.
- Connect with new and random people – read snippets of lives far and near. What they find funny, love and hate. I enjoy whoelheartedly my communications with tech professionals in the Denver area and rock climbing attorneys in the Pacific Northwest…and I’ve never met them.
- Welcome to Short Attention-Span Theatre! Honestly, it’s why I love text messaging. I sometimes don’t have the tolerance for a full-blown and rambling conversation. Gimme the nuts & bolts and get the hell out of my face. I’m busy over here (but genuinely value what you have to say!).
- A pleasant diversion – Twitter can go mobile with you, and there are several applications out there from TwitterBerry and beyond.
- People find YOU. Over time, you’ll accumulate a following of like-minded or complimentary professionals that want to hear what you have to say. For example, I post links to blogs about SEO, technology and social media that I find interesting. People who follow me know that I post content of substance and come to respect the fact I’m not going to waste their time with crap. So they follow me, and that in and of itself is a wonderful compliment.
- Who knows – your future employer may be lurking in the Twittersphere! Every day I read about firms that are hiring, people who know of firms hiring…and these aren’t idle Tweets. They’re ones sent out with contact info of who to call, the company name and all that good stuff.
- Be Your Own Brand – When you’re establishing virtual relationships like those on Twitter, you’re building a personal brand. The content you Tweet, reTweet (when you repost someone else’s Tweet) and the conversations you carry in 140 characters or less speak to who you are and, I think, how you value other people’s time. I know that when I see a Tweet from certain folks, it’s “funny stuff.” From others, it’s “holy shit, I need to read this now” stuff. Others get so annoying over time that I just unfollow. The old saying still stands: you only get one chance to make a first impression.
So, I hope the information above has been useful to the newbies in the social mediasphere. Perhaps the old hands have found an interesting tidbit or two as well. Social media and social networking are really nothing new, but their growing popularity has a lot of people asking “WTF is up with it?” The moral being, you can dish like a schoolgirl behind the bleachers and still keep it 100% professional, all with a little help from a few sites to get you started in your virtual, social world.
PS: Mom still reminds me about that damned phone line prank every year. I get her back by voting Democrat.
This blog is dedicated to old friend, incredible woman and new Tweeter @cara19. Stop by her profile on Twitter and see what she has to say!
And at the risk of repeating myself, here’s a no-holds-barred explanation of social media. Funny, yet spot-on.
Email questions to erika@EricaNapoletano.com.