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Adventures in Social Media: Falling in Love With a Necessary Evil

by Shirley Schutt

woman-stressed-with-computer601376Adventures in Social Media: Falling in Love With a Necessary Evil

There’s a lot to consider when ordering from your local Starbucks or coffee spot. Venti or Grande? Skinny or full-fat? Hot or cold? Just thinking about ordering from a one of these establishments makes me feel anxious.

Social media had the same effect on me. The thought of fully incorporating Twitter, Facebook or even Pinterest into my daily Web habits felt overwhelming and scary. Frankly, Facebook and I have broken up a few too many times for me to add another “friend” to the batch.

This all changed when I switched careers and decided to become a web and graphic designer. I’ve always been that person that wouldn’t stick with an unsatisfied job. I’ve seen what an unpleasant workplace or career does to a person’s psyche and didn’t want that for myself. As a result, I tried my hand at a number of different vocations and finally fell into design—a career, I’ve admired for many years.

But, I digress.

My main job outside of designing is to build relationships. How else can I expect to secure my next design project or job if I don’t build and nurture relationships with friends, coworkers, new associates and future clients. It’s not enough to rely on your talent or skill. It makes it a lot harder to become successful if no one knows who you are or has seen your work. If you’re a small business owner, entrepreneur or even looking to build your online brand, social media is a necessary “evil” that we must all tackle and overcome. It’s not that scary of a beast if you have a plan and do one thing at a time.

Here are four steps I’ve taken to successfully get started—and fall in love with—with social media:

Determine Your Goals
It’s easy to sign onto Facebook or Twitter account —they make it easy for a reason—but what’s the point of creating numerous social media accounts if you have no idea of your goals or even if it will be beneficial to your brand? Goals can be a new lead, increase in sales, uptick in newsletter subscribers or even just awareness. Figuring out the “why” before you sign up will eliminate a lot of headache and help clarify your objectives. A great resource to use is S.M.A.R.T goals to identify and outline your brand/business objectives.

Know Your Audience
Many moons ago, I applied for a marketing position with a small business. They were looking for someone to manage their many social media accounts and generate leads. They were having trouble finding new clients and needed someone to help fulfill their quota. The problem was that none of their clients were on those social media sites. It’s important to know what engages your audience before you start your social media journey. Too often we assume that everyone and their mother  is on Facebook or Twitter when it simply may not be the case.  A little knowledge will go a long way when honing your social media strategy.

Create Amazing Content
Google has changed the game. Back in the day, having great content on your site did not determine whether you were ranked. As long as other sites were linked to you, you were good to go. Fortunately, that has all changed. Now, ranking is determined by your reputation. This mean that you will have to create stellar content. The more other relevant sites are linked to you, the higher your ranking.

Create a Schedule
Nowadays, it’s pretty easy to start an online blog. The problem is consistency. When I started my blog, the hardest thing for me outside of determining my voice, was figuring out a schedule. People like consistency. You won’t get the number of followers you desire if you don’t write consistently or often. Determining the best time to blog or interact online helps keep you focused and organized when it’s time to get things done.

Check out Shirley next time in “Adventures in Social Media,” as she chronicles her journey in establishing her online brand, and feel free leave your comments and questions below. Follow her on Twitter @OhShirl.

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