Social Media Challenge 1: The First Step Is Admitting You Have a Network

Social Media Challenge 1: The First Step Is Admitting You Have a Network

Social Media Challenge 2: How to Make a Social Media Calendar

Social Media Challenge 3: But What Should I Post?

Welcome to 2014 everyone!

Chances are, you, like me, have a brand new collection of goals, and as a communications professional, I have some great ideas for how to get your public relations on point. This is the beginning of a Social Media Challenge that I've designed to get your social media ready for the rest of the year. In four short posts (coincidentally the number of blog posts in January) I'll help you go from zero to hero, and give you tips to sustain your campaigns throughout 2014.

Each week, I'll cover one aspect of starting and maintaining a social media presence and I'll assign homework for that week. It's going to take four weeks of building one homework assignment on top of another in order to get you up to full speed. Think of this as a couch to 5k program for your social media strategy. If you're starting to feel overwhelmed at any point, repeat the previous week. Having good social media habits are more important than getting there quickly.

Seeing as how we're all probably still a little groggy from the recent holiday, this week's post and assignment is simple and straightforward: Pick your network.

Social media networks all have different flavors, and are frequented by different types of people. So, take a look at the community summaries below, pick which network you think works best for your market, and play.

Yes, your homework is to play on the Internet for a week. Get familiar with the site, it's mechanics, and it's rules. If you don't like it after all, try another one. Feeling comfortable on the network you pick is almost as important as being on a network in the first place.

FACEBOOK Who's on it: People with babies. What it's for: Posting pictures of your baby. What it's not for: Pitching, recruiting, or otherwise pressuring people to act on your behalf. Special Note: Facebook is not a good place for, say, your discount beauty supply emporium. It is a good place for anything warm and fuzzy. Non-profits, member driven organizations, philanthropy, or conscious capitalism all do well on Facebook because rather than asking to be shared, people want to share their stuff.

TWITTER Who's on it: Racially diverse city dwellers. What it's for: Quick updates that are swept away before they get stale. What it's not for: Thoughtful discussion, nuance, things that need to be referenced at some future date. Special Note: Twitter is great for moment by moment updates. Bakeries use twitter to tell customers what's fresh. Marketers use twitter to share links and snark at lightening speed.

LINKEDIN Who's on it: Educated professionals who hate their jobs, and people who own their own companies. What it's for: Trying to find another job under the guise of 'networking.' What it's not for: Actual networking. Special Note: LinkedIn is good to use if you offer professional services, not so much to make contact through, but to keep track of your contacts on. For example, a change on Linkedin might merit a "Hey Jenny, congrats on the move to upper management! Sincerely, your friendly neighborhood freelancer." Do this via email, never use the site's terrible messaging system

PINTEREST Who's on it: College educated women. What it's for: Shopping lists under the guise of DIY/design inspiration. What it's not for: Political commentary, downers, long posts. Special Note: Anybody who makes anything should be on Pinterest. Especially if it looks like something that would be in the pages of Real Simple or on a list by Oprah.

YOUTUBE Who's on it: Most likely to be a 55 year old guy, second most likely to be a 15 year old boy. What it's for: Watching music videos, and leaving very stupid comments on them. What it's not for: Uploading videos for your community members that you will then host on your own website without ever having to navigate away. Special Note: This is on the edge of being a social media network. While you can build a huge following on YouTube, that was easier 5 years ago when the site was newer. And since the medium is exclusively video, unless you only make videos (as in, that is your whole business model) there's not a lot of room to grow, or an especially easy way to get noticed in the crowd.

GOOGLE+ Who's on it: Every person with a Google account automatically gets a Google+ profile. What it's for: Updating your information so that a Google search of you returns what you want people to know What it's not for: Anything else. Special Note: Google+ is not really a social network. Google wants it to be, but it isn't. Don't choose Google+ for your homework assignment. It will be boring.

Remember, if you get caught up, call me. I'll talk your ear off.

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