Like me, you've probably noticed the "youthiness" of those leading the social media revolution. Relax. I'm here to speak your language. So, put on your slippers, grab a cup of whatever floats your boat and let's do it. Together!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Six Simple Strategies for Social Media Fence-Sitters

Everything I need to know about social media I learned from my mama (and a few other folks I'll mention a little later in this post.) First, let's start with mama.  She divorced my dad when I was thirteen and was left to raise three kids with very little financial support. She worked two part-time jobs, sold Avon and home-made pies to make ends meet. She did a little bit of everything to make sure we kept our heads above water. She amazed my siblings and me and she never let us see her sweat. She did what she had to do and looked for ways to make life better.  In this example, there is something that companies and non-profits can learn if they are still considering whether or not to invest time, effort or resources in social media.  The answer is, YES! The last thing you want to do in a bad economy is try something new, right? WRONG! You've read the hype and if you've read closely enough you know that it isn't really hype at all.

Social media is the new world order and adding something new to your marketing or fundraising strategy does not have be as daunting as re-inventing the wheel. Let me repeat the first half of that sentence. Social media is the new world order. Adding one more thing to your marketing strategy doesn't have to be a drain. There are lots of ways to make it feasible if you do some sleuthing around for a top-notch social media assistant.

Shameless plug: http://patgermelmansma.blogspot.com/.

The most important step is to decide that you can and will do social media. (By the way, the three siblings in this story helped mama with the Avon distributing and pie baking. There is a bit of a misconception that social media is fun. Well, it is fun. That part is not actually a myth. It does, however, take discipline, commitment and work. Kind of like Avon and pies.)

Once you've decided to commit, go on a virtual expedition and find the people who do social media best. That sounds ridiculous even as I write it because the social media population is so massively huge. But, like making connections in your professional life, you will gravitate to people that share your professional values. As in every other part of life, you will find a snake oil salesman or two ready to pull that proverbial wool right over your eyes.  If you have business savvy, you'll have social media savvy. Snake oil is snake oil.

When you find a true social media expert that you like (if they tell you they are an expert it is a sure sign they aren't), follow them like a bloodhound. This gets tricky because you never want to stalk. Send a message that you like their work, thank them for doing it, and pay it forward like crazy on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Check out who these icons are following and follow them and their contacts. Is this beginning to sound a little bit viral? Visit their websites and read their blogs (RSS feeds help, thank you very much!) When you find something they blog or post that you really like, make sure you pass it on for others to read, too. Paying it forward is the highest praise you can give in social media. A word of urgency here though because the early bird really does get the worm. The work of the pros I follow gets retweeted fast. It's not that you have to be the first and only person to RT their work, but it helps.

Chris Brogan 
  (@chrisbrogan) http://www.chrisbrogan.com/
Guy Kawasaki
  (@GuyKawasaki) http://alltop.com/
Blair Semenoff
   (@Flipbooks) http://truactionflix.com/about/ceo-blair-semenoff

There are many more social media experts out there but the three mentioned above are the flour, butter and sugar of social media (another pie-baking reference.) Last but not least, if you aren't following Pete Cashmore (@mashable) you might want to forgo using social media for your company. :-) There are tons of social media folks on LinkedIn ready and willing to share information one-on-one or through their postings, publications and webinars. Once you open the gate, you'll be flooded with opportunities to learn from the best in social media.

In a nutshell (pecan pie, anyone?), here are six simple strategies for the social media fence-sitters...

1.  Determine its value, decide to do it and commit.
2.  Social media takes discipline, see number 1.
3.  Get the help you need (you may not need to add staff.)
4.  Find social media leaders and follow them.
5.  Pay it forward. Share what you learn.
6.  Pay it forward fast. Someone else is ready to jump ahead of you.

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