Many people find the concept of using a social network intimidating, or they don’t understand why they should use a new one when they already use another. If you are one of these people (and I think pretty much everyone is at some point in their lives), then I am here to reassure you and offer some advice. Here are my three L’s of social media.
The first thing you must do, before making any judgements about a particular social networking site, is to join! It does not cost you anything to join a social network, so there is nothing stopping you from trying one or many.
The second thing to do, is to start using it. No, I don’t mean going full tilt and posting messages all day and every day. That comes later. What I mean is take time to look around the site you are on and how to use it. Start following some interesting people, whether they are people you know in real life, or someone famous.
This is important, so please remember this. If you don’t follow people, you will not ‘get’ social media. Your feed will be empty. So follow as many as you are comfortable with. You can always un-follow someone if you find they don’t fit what you need.
Now you have got to grips with the basics, it is time to learn. If you have followed some active people or brands, you will get lots of interesting information in your stream. I use Twitter and Google+ to learn about news and current events, for example. News in this case can be personal, local, national or global. The context depends on who you are following!
Learning is not just limited to news though. Take your time watching how others craft their posts. Which ones are more successful than others? Which ones are more interesting to you? Which ones annoy you?
Social media sites often have their own terminology and etiquette, so now is your chance to learn the do’s and don’t’s and what all those funny hash tags mean. For instance, when I first joined Twitter I saw several people posting #FF. I had no idea what it meant, but slowly I got an inkling. #FF is shorthand for Follow Friday, where people tweet the names of those that have followed them that week. It’s a kind of thank you.
Now you have the knowledge, eventually you will need to start posting things yourself. You can start by interacting with other people’s posts. Commenting, liking/+1ing and sharing are your bread and butter.
Once you have got the hang of things, try creating a post yourself. My tip here is to try and make every post count. Think about the people that may be reading your posts, what would they want to hear? Try to create meaningful, thoughtful content. A few well chosen words designed to engage with your followers will benefit you and them.