How to Get Started Using Social Media

Posted: November 12, 2011 in Marketing, Social Media
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I’ll start this entry off a little bit differently. Instead of getting right into it I want to mention where the back story for this particular post is coming from. Earlier today I helped to co-present a 75 minute workshop on social media at the District 60 Toastmasters conference in Markham, alongside with Promod Sharma – our club president and social media guru. Although our audience was smaller than we had anticipated at 11 people, the content which we delivered, the questions that were asked, and the experience for everyone (including Promod and I) was valuable.

The presentation was geared towards using social media for Toastmasters, however it could also be applicable for both personal and business life.  One of the common questions that kept popping up during the workshop was along the lines of “Where do I get started with social media? There’s so much!”

This is true. If you’re unfamiliar with social media, it can be extremely confusing. Even if you are familiar with it like me it can still be confusing. I only finally figured out how to use Twitter effectively a couple of months ago and there’s still more to learn.

As confusing as it is, I think I’ve done a pretty good job at breaking down social media into four categories.

This is an image I developed specifically for the workshop that I used in one of my Powerpoint slides. Let me summarize these four categories.

1. Content Generation

Before you can start using social media, you need to have a purpose. Assuming you want to do more than simply share your current status and comment on photos then this means contributing information to the Internet. In order to do this, you need a place where you can generate that content. If that content is in the form of videos, then you’ll want an account on a place like Youtube or Vimeo that allows you to upload videos you either made or have rights to use.

If your content is audio, then you might want to look into Podcasts (something I’m not entirely familiar with right now so I won’t post any links, feel free to leave a comment if you have a good source). If your content is music that you made then you may want a Myspace account.

And if your content is simply articles that are mostly text, then consider starting a blog on either Blogger or WordPress (blogger is easier to use but WordPress gives you a lot more customization).

Whatever your content is, there are plenty of social media sources available.

2. Content Display

Content display is like having a home base where you can combine everything. Sure, you can have a Youtube account, a Myspace account and be putting out Podcasts, but do you really want to put effort into keeping all of those sites nice and smooth all the time? Also, if someone checks out your Youtube page and likes what they see, how are you going to get them to see your other stuff and follow you on Twitter?

Content display is all about having everything you do on one main web site. For this, I recommend either having your own personal paid domain and hosting (you can get an amazing deal at Netfirms. Much better than a place like Godaddy whom spends all their money on advertising and charges you more) or having a blog for free. If you do have a free blog and start getting a lot of use out of it, you’ll probably want to eventually get your own paid web site, but this is easy enough to transition to after you feel comfortable running a blog.

Also, if you don’t know how to design web sites, don’t worry too much. Netfirms allows you to build your own website using either Weebly drag and drop builder or a variety of other simple to use tools like WordPress, or Joomla which don’t require much more than a very basic technical knowledge to use on a simple level. (Netfirms isn’t paying me to say any of this, I just have had nothing but good experiences using them).

3. Content Sharing

Once everything is out on display, you’re going to want people to see what you’ve been putting out. Yes, some people will find your content on their own through Google searches (or Youtube searches if that’s what you’ve made), but the problem with this is that it’s still a very passive approach. In order to get people to see your content, you’re going to need to share it. This is where Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter come into play.

Arg! Again, which one to use?

Let me sum it up.

Facebook = your personal network (friends and family)

LinkedIn = your personal business network (co-workers, former employers, etc.)

Twitter = everyone and their mother

Basically, anything you put on Facebook and LinkedIn will only be view-able to your personal networks. This means people that you are friends with (on Facebook) or connected with (on LinkedIn). This CAN be changed if you start using Facebook pages and LinkedIn groups which gives you access to a wider audience, but for simplicity sake, we’ll save those topics for another day and just concentrate on Twitter which is simpler.

Through the use of hashtags (these # things) you can very easily make anything you post visible to anyone who follows that particular trend. For instance, I’m going to post this article to Twitter using the hashtag #Toastmasters which means anyone who follows #Toastmasters on Twitter will see me linking this article. Twitter also lets you have a wide range of followers who are interested in what you have to say, but I’m not going to talk about how to get followers here, as I’ve already done that over here.

4. Content Effectiveness

Finally, you can be putting out all the content in the world but how useful is it really, if you don’t get any feedback? This is where the final step comes in and it’s a website called Klout. Klout assigns you a personal score from 1 to 100 that tries to measure how persuasive you are online. It assigns you a score (that changes over time as you continue to deliver content) by connecting with your various social media accounts and looking at your followers. How many followers do you have? How many people are following them? Are your followers clicking your links? Are they commenting on your posts?

Klout also shows you where you stand compared to your contacts that also use Klout and it tries to categorize you on a matrix classifying you into categories such as a networker, a feeder or a conversationalist.  At the time of this posting my Klout score is 41 out of 100. One point higher than it was yesterday. It’s very very difficult to get a high score on Klout so don’t be discouraged when you sign up, just realize it gives you something to work towards.

To sum it all up…

Get at least these three social media accounts to begin your journey. A blog (using Blogger or WordPress) to generate and display content, a Twitter account to share it and Klout to evaluate it all. Everything else is nice to have, but these are the essentials.

  1. Edward Kopec says:

    Great stuff! Keep it comin’.

  2. Fantastic information on leveraging social media from a holistic 360 approach–personal, business and looking for a job. I did not heard about Klout but heard of Hootsuite. Do these sites offer the same in terms of statistics: measuring who follows you, length of time each visitor spends on each site?

    Eager to learn and hear more from you.

  3. byeka says:

    Thank you for your comments! I actually hadn’t heard of Hootsuite until you mentioned it just now, but taking a look at their website it looks as if Hootsuite gives you a detailed breakdown of your social media statistics but leaves you to figure out where you stand, whereas Klout gives you a rating on scale from 1-100 and shows you where you stand compared to everyone else.

    In terms of actual site visitation statistics, your web host should also provide this information. For instance, through my free WordPress blog I only have access to basic statistics, but I can see how many visits I am getting and how they are getting here. If I were to host my site through Netfirms on the other hand, I would have highly detailed breakdown of website statistics at my disposal.

    I’ll have to look more into Hootsuite as well!

  4. […] How to Get Started Using Social Media […]

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