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Month two of my social media amateur to expert challenge, and I’ve got to say, it has been gruelling.
I’ve definitely struggled getting to grips with social media. From what to tweet out, to building my experience with all the platforms, to the ancient problem of never having enough hours in the day, there have been a whole range of challenges to overcome.
I’m happy to say that I’ve finally got around to setting up my Facebook page, and that I have succeeded in increasing activity on both Twitter and LinkedIn.
In fact, LinkedIn has become my new best friend. Messages have been arriving at all hours of the day, so much so that I’ve had to meticulously check them to ensure I don’t miss anything important!
I’ve also had much more success with my events over the month, with a much larger interest from when I started out. When I sent out my first event a few months back, I just assumed that was it. Book them and they will come, right? Wrong.
We revaluated and tried again. In combination with colleagues closely working our contacts, we raised the event’s profile in people’s estimations. The result? Bookings!
Another challenge has been finding the right individuals to connect with. I scoured social media, searching for people with a similar interest or who would want to get involved with our business opportunities.
I found that many were too far removed for an immediate connection. Additionally, many weren’t up to date with my move or what massive benefits the World Trade Centre London offers International Trade.
I had to come up with another strategy. By joining groups and making some noise, I was able to begin a conversation with a variety of people from a plethora of different industries. Thanks to finding another way into their social circles, I managed to build numerous contacts, many of which I’ve now met in person to discuss various business opportunities.
One big lesson I’ve learned is that to effectively utilise social media, you have to have a plan. Work it into your daily routine as you would any other daily task. I’ve also found it incredibly important to identify the best time to work your networks to get the greatest impact. After some research, I found the following information:
My research showed me that not only have I not been on social media enough, I’ve been doing it at the wrong time! I quickly figured out that I would have to develop better timing when reaching out to my audience. For example, if you’re targeting an international audience then 5pm GMT hits three areas: Home time here, lunchtime on the East Coast of the States, and the start of the working day in Canada and the West Coast.
I thought it was definitely time to define a strategy. I’d then review this strategy as I went along, and tweak it as appropriate.
Fortunately for me, the internet rarely pauses for breath when it comes to social media advice. Every man, woman, and their collective dogs with a twitter account is banging on your door with their top tips for social media.
By filtering through the crud and taking tips from solid and respected experts, you can begin to develop a strategy. Once you have a greater understanding, you can adapt that to either the brand or the individual.
I then found I needed to clearly define goals and objectives. Exactly what was I trying to achieve here? While this article is about my journey through the social media learning curve, the goals and objectives are very much mine. I managed to break down my purpose for learning social media into the following points:
But above all else, I wanted to build contacts and relationships.
Contacts are a challenge in their own right. Not in having them; that's obviously brilliant. The difficulty comes from managing the series of rapidly growing databases I have.
Some are only social, others are business, many are a combination. Like most people, I have contacts on one list that are years out of date and relate to another life or activity. I needed to decide which platforms I combine them on, whether I clean them out, and figuring out how I can ensure that I maintain them.
Social media has been a great tool for this. The old methods of keeping a tightly regimented rolodex or spread sheet where I constantly add information, code for areas of interest, and what developmental opportunities we have is an admin task which I resent. Social media does that all for you, and the best bit? Your contacts update all that information for you!
When researching social media, I found one common theme is that conversations are around events. Joining conversations are vital to developing your contacts. It doesn’t take Einstein to figure out the two are intrinsically linked.
The trick is coming across as the sort of person people want to engage with. Tweets and updates need to be relevant, interesting, and personal. Obviously, the wider your audience, the more challenging this becomes.
What is relevant or interesting to some won't hit the mark with others. Equally, there is a lot of business confidentiality involved in what I do and, though it is interesting, it would be inappropriate to mention in an open forum.
While I still need to work on what works and what doesn’t, I feel the most important point to keep in mind is your niche. If people are following you for fashion tips, they don’t want to hear about what jam you had on your toast this morning. Keep it friendly, but keep it relevant.
Strengthening these skills over the coming months will be crucial for me when it comes to getting involved with the right conversations. Without these interpersonal social media skills, relationships won't develop and as I work on an international basis, being able to talk to people from all walks of life is key to my work.
The increase in Social Media hasn't changed the fundamental of people buying from people. While it has enabled conversations to be started with a global group of people, the relationship is still key.
The complexity of cultural differences then impacts on how you communicate. The choice of words and phrases has to be considered. On a couple of occasions, I have arranged Skype calls to find that GMT isn't always the recognised time. Now I use the UTC, with far more success.
As the Americans say, if you assume, it makes an ass out of you and me. While the vast majority of international business people speak English, jumping to that conclusion that everyone speaks it perfectly only highlights my total inability to speak any other language. I have to learn to be precise and concise with my communications.
Finally, one other aspect of social media I’ve picked up, and that is to analyse. Keeping everything I’ve mentioned in mind, over the next few months I will be measuring the results of my efforts.
Is there an increase in communications? Am I getting retweets, likes and more followers? Does the timing affect the impact? I need to analyse my style, my subjects, and my online persona. What makes a conversation go Viral? Have I reached individuals I want to communicate with?
I also intend to keep an eye on the value of my social interactions online. The intention is that this will be a long term commitment, with relationships established throughout the world. Therefore I need to ensure that I can maintain the level of commitment and enthusiasm. I intend to build the time into throughout the week, including occasional posts at the weekend.
In reality, time will become the limiting factor so I need to focus on which social media platforms as the norm, and use others for particular activities or events as and when.
This way I should be able to increase my current usage to a maintainable and useful level. To achieve this I will be constantly analysing the results, adapting what I'm doing with the intention of improving the end result. The success of this will show directly in the number of posts and tweets I achieve and then the growth in contacts and followers.
Just before I sign off, I’d like to send out a massive thank you to all of you who have joined me on this journey. I will endeavour to make it as fun and useful as possible for all of us!
There will be more content going out next month. I plan to increase the number of people following me, both through increased activity, interesting articles and a few well-placed requests. There are one or two very well-known individuals I am hoping to contact; if I’m successful I’ll let you know next month.
Over the next month, I will continue to implement and refine the strategy I have developed. Hit the peak times. Use Twitter and Facebook more frequently. Provide excellent content. Reach out to the people. This will become my mantra.
Check back next month to see how I got on!