Do I need to use social media to market myself?

Do I need to use social media to market myself?

I’m sure you’ve heard many stories of people getting great results on social media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. And undoubtedly many people are having great success.

What you should really focus on is can you get social media to work for you? Yes there are great stories out there; however, something I need to regularly explain to people is the following: whilst there are probably millions of people trying to make social media work for them,  only a few succeed. These are the stories we hear about. There are many millions for whom social media is not working.

So how can you increase the chance that social media will work for you?

Let’s think about what it is, this new strange creature. Historically we just pumped out our message hoping somebody would find it and respond to it. Now imagine being at a party. You’re talking with friends, somebody walks up and just starts talking about themselves. How do you respond? Of course we wouldn’t behave like that (I hope) and this is the same with social media. Social media is about conversations.

Now back to the party, how do you go about joining in with a group of people? It’s likely you’ll do something like this, first you listen to the conversation, then you will start contributing to it. Once you’re acknowledged by the group you can be a much fuller participant. If your credibility rises, eventually you can lead the conversation.

This is exactly what will happen with social media. If you participate in conversations, then with time, if what you say makes sense and is good, you will be given credibility. As you become more credible people are more willing to listen to and interact with you.

Now this gives the first clue as to how you’re going to get social media working for you. You need to find the conversations to join. If that’s on Twitter then that’s where you go. The same is true for the other social media sites.

For example, if you’re targeting people in business or specific careers or jobs, then LinkedIn is possibly the best place to start.

Generally, a good way to proceed is to look for groups: are the active groups on the social site interested in what you can help with? If so, then potentially that is a good place to start.

Next you have to consider who you going to be on these sites,  yourself or some alter ego? My thoughts are quite straightforward, running a private practice means you’re working one-on-one with people, it is a personal relationship so I want as little as possible getting in the way. Now on sites like Facebook you can always set up business pages. This allows you to separate your personal and business activities.

Each of the social sites does require different techniques. Twitter is clearly different to Facebook. So once you know where your target audience is likely to be, and how you can participate in the conversations, then the strategies you employ need to fit in with that media.

As with anything, social media can work well with you if you take the time to design what you’re going to do, make sure you use it purposefully, not just randomly posting and interacting with others. Take the time to design your intention of being there, and how you intend to interact and communicate with others. Make sure you use good social etiquette; don’t come across as spam or an unsavoury person.

Social media fits in perfectly with my proposed strategy. Firstly, focus on who you want to attract. Although this single article cannot give you all you need to know, once you have the focus as to ‘who you are calling’, then this narrows down the extra information you need to gather to be successful with those specific areas of social media that your target audience use. Or perhaps you could look at it from the angle that once you are focused on using a particular social tool, then you can ignore the masses of information that are about using other sites.

Getting all this right doesn’t guarantee success; however, good initial design and consistent effort will take you a long way towards what you’re looking for.