July 4, 2010
A question I am frequently asked goes something like this, “With all the different social networking sites out there, how do I know which which is right for me, and how do I find the time to keep up with it?”
Great question! One that I am sure we’ve all asked ourselves at some point or another, right? This much is clear: If you don’t have a purpose for utilizing social media you are going to feel much like a person who has been thrown into the water and can’t swim! You are going to panic, and try to keep your head above water however you can. Not only is this scary, but it is exhausting. I would answer the above question with this question, “What is your primary reason for wanting to use social media?” Please don’t say ‘because everyone is doing it’. That is not a good reason. You need to have a well-defined reason so that you can then determine which site, or sites, you wish to spend your time on.
Here are five questions to ask yourself to help you determine which networking site(s) you want to utilize:
- What is your *main* purpose for utilizing social media? Be specific with this question. Don’t generalize.
- Who is your target audience?
- What specific results will your social media efforts have on your target audience?
- What is your comfort level with social media? Are you new to social media? Are you an intermediate user? An advanced user?
- How much time do you want to devote to social media per day? Per week?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can begin to explore what social networking site(s) are the best fit for you based on the answers you’ve provided.
The big three in Social Media are: LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Here’s how I like to think of these:
- LinkedIn is like putting on a suit.
- Facebook is like casual Friday’s.
- Twitter is like an afterwork party or hanging out on the weekend.
Business happens on all three of these sites just as it does in the traditional workplace during the day and after hours. I use this analogy only to provide an idea of how ‘business’ or ‘casual’ the site is. I, personally, am on all three of these social networking sites. They all ‘fit’ for me. The key to finding a fit is that you will then get involved. Don’t just sign up to sign up. You *must* get involved in some fashion. Whether that is joining a group and participating, or answering questions, or tweeting about some useful information, you must be involved. Remember, people need to know, like, and trust you *before* they will consider doing business with you.
As for how much time you need to spend on these networking sites, that will really depend on your purpose and target audience (see questions 1 and 2 above). Plan on at least 30 minutes a day. Block this time off on your calendar, set a timer (here’s a really cool no-cost one: http://www.nestersoft.com/timeleft/index.shtml ) for 30 minutes, and get busy! Once the timer goes off, you are done for the day. Wasn’t that easy? Doesn’t that sound manageable? If you find you really enjoy this, do this exercise again at the end of the day. As with anything, it is all about what you find comfortable, because when it’s comfortable you’ll do it!
Cindy Hillsey, Certified Professional Coach, is a Mentor/Coach to Solopreneurs, and specializes in coaching Virtual Assistants. As an innovative and inspiring business maverick, Cindy’s number one goal is to remove the unease around being a first time business owner. For more information and FREE resources and articles, please visit: http://www.virtualpartnering.com