We all use social media. Privately, and most of you for business. However, there is a huge difference between these two.
If you use social media for business, you would benefit from goals, focus and consistency. It requires a thorough understanding of how social media work (and I would like to stress the word social here) and how to optimize your efforts on the various platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
You need to learn how to plan your activities and how to link them to your business goals. Besides that, you might need to learn new skills like writing inspiring blogs and catchy updates.
That's quite a lot isn't it?
This summer I was lucky to come across the book Switch, of Dan and Chip Heath. This book is all about change. While reading it I realised that in order to be successful on social media, you will need to understand how your mind works in a change process.
Learning new social media skills and creating the habit of doing regular updates, interacting with people online and writing blog posts, all have the characteristics of a change process: it can be unsettling, time-consuming and often we give up at the first sign of a setback. At least that's what I have experienced since I decided to make social media my core business.
The New York Times bestseller Switch taught me some valuable lessons about change. Once you apply these lessons to your activities on social media, you might be better able to see the bigger picture of the changes you go through. It will help you in the process of incorporating social media in your day-to-day business activities.
10 ways to make social media a joyful and effective business habit.
- Follow the bright spots. You might have people in your environment who have been using social media for business for a longer time than yourself. Ask what works for them, what they do and how they do it. How often do they post? What do they discuss in their blogs? How do they stay focussed? You can also look for the bright spots in yourself. What has worked for you on social media so far? How can you repeat your successes?
- Shrink the change. Once you decide to share your knowledge and expertise in blogs and updates, you might get overwhelmed by all the choices you have to make. Is it better to write a blog? Will video be more effective? On which platforms do you need to post and how to vary your updates and tweets?
Set yourself small goals and develop a step-by-step plan. Instead of starting with two blogs a week, start with one blog every two weeks for the first half year and limit your time on social media to 15 or 30 minutes per day. This will enable you to take social media one step at a time and keep the overview you need.
- Be proud and celebrate your accomplishments. It is easy to get distracted on social media. You will come across people in your field of business who are ahead of you, which can be really demotivating sometimes. To keep the spirit high you can better look at what you have already accomplished. Maybe you have written a few blogs since you started, and you might have created your first newsletter. Well done! Be proud, celebrate your achievements and then move on.
- Set specific dates and times for your activities. A consistent presence is important on social media. It is better to publish a blog every two weeks, than four blogs in one week followed by four weeks of silence. Being consistent on social media is what most business people struggle with. Before the week starts, block time in your agenda to write your blog and to do your updates. Be as specific as possible, e.g. I will write my block this Wednesday after lunch time. Being specific will increase your chances of making things happen.
- Use checklists. Checklists give peace of mind and keep you focussed. Create a checklist for the promotion of your training programmes and events. And even if you start blogging, it helps to use a checklist to ensure you don't overlook important aspects of the content, lay out and promotion of your blog.
- Find a buddy. It helps to have a friend, colleague or business partner who is going through the same process and who you can share experiences with. This will keep you motivated and you can encourage each other when you lack motivation or don't see where you are heading to.
- Give yourself clear directions. This will help you to stay motivated. How many new followerswould you like to get this month on Twitter? How many new LinkedIn contacts would you like to give a call this week? How often will you write a blog?
- Change your mindset. I sometimes come across people who say that social media is not 'their thing'. What happens if you would say to yourself: 'as a professional business owner I embrace social media as it enables me to get in touch with relevant people. Via social media I can share my passion and expertise with my audience.' Which type do you want to be? Who would you like to identify with?
- Find the feeling. Social media is about connections and interactions. Posting updates without interaction might easily make you feel disconnected. Chat with people via Twitter. Engage in a discussion on LinkedIn. Find the human touch.
- Accept your learning curve. As mentioned before, learning how to apply social media is all about change. Each change has a learning curve. It is tempting to expect direct results from your efforts on social media, as it is such a direct form of communication. Some people easily lose interest once the magic is not happening. I completely understand. However, give yourself time and accept that mistakes and frustrations are part of the process.
How easy is it to for you to incorporate social media in your business? What do you struggle with?