A Social Media education: Most people just don’t know what we don’t know!

“My middle-schooler created her own Facebook page . . . How hard can this social media thing really be?”

I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say this or something similar.

When it comes to the use of social (or NEW) media, most people just don’t know what we don’t know!

Quite correctly, it is easy to set up a Facebook or Twitter account or virtually any other social media account. You navigate to a web page, add some information, create a profile, hit a few buttons and within minutes you’re chatting with friends, updating your status, and discovering who likes what books or TV shows or whatever else someone chooses to share. YES practically ANYONE can do it. . . and practically EVERYONE does (at last count Facebook had 600 million active accounts worldwide).

But is that all there is to social media? Hardly.

Many companies, from corner convenience stores to Fortune 100 giants as well as senior level professionals, executives and celebrities, use social media quite effectively to aid their marketing efforts, develop or enhance their personal or business brands, and create publicity and buzz.

It’s a relatively level playing field, as long as you know what you’re doing. Of course, therein lies the dilemma.

Exchanging updates and pithy quotes with friends does not a social media strategy make . . . at least not if your goal is to position yourself as a thought leader in a particular area of expertise or to engage in conversation about the value of your product or service to consumers.

To do that, and to do it well, you need a social media strategy that keeps you front and center and on message, as well as a tactical game plan for how you will implement, sustain, and refocus efforts as necessary to give your social media strategy legs.

So while practically anyone can start “sharing” online, including you or your middle-schooler, more than likely you won’t know what you don’t know.

• What can you reasonably expect to gain through social media? What results are you hoping to achieve?
• What social media sites should you join? How can you decide?
• What tools will you need to optimize your activities? What’s available and how do you avoid becoming a 24×7 slave to social media?
• Do you know how to operate within the confines of social media “etiquette”? Do you know best practices and what’s acceptable and what’s not?
• How will you use social media to demonstrate value so that customers and prospective customers want to engage in conversation with you?
• How frequently should you add fresh content?
• What will you discuss? How will you say it? More importantly, why will you discuss a particular topic?
• How will you invite others to join the conversation . . . and what do you do once they join to keep them engaged?
• How can you ensure your content is something people will want to keep and share with others?
• How will you measure the response?
• How will you know if you are successful? How many fans or followers do you need?
• If your social media efforts are not meeting desired results, what can you do to improve performance?

Social media success depends on a Social Media Publicist/Manager—a specialist trained in optimizing social media activities and maximizing efficacy—to see what’s working/what’s not working on a daily if not minute-by-minute basis. It takes a human mind and not just another computer application to make judgments on what makes good content, what stories to promote, where to promote them and when, and how best to connect with a target audience.

As a business owner, executive, or solo professional, you owe it to yourself, your business, and your customers and prospects to recognize what you don’t know about social media and bring in the experts to help you rise above the clutter and begin reaping the benefits of greater brand equity.

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