Sure, there's instant coffee. But would you consider the maker of a cup of instant coffee a barista, their work comparable to a fine Italian latte hand crafted by someone who has studied the quality of the beans, the temperature of the milk and the length of time spent brewing (not to mention the taste difference between instant and a real latte)? You can't even compare the two. Justin Bieber would attest that he didn't become an overnight success. Even though he's not yet out of his teens, it took years of practicing and appearances to hone his craft. Malcom Gladwell repeatedly mentions in his book The Outliers the "10,000-Hour Rule", claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of about 10,000 hours. So how are you and your organization moving toward that 10,000 hours to become experts in social media?
No one knows yet what it truly takes to become a social rock star. We do know where it starts though....trying. Getting started. Sign up. Login. Then actually tweet, test, and discover. And if you have done that, then start exploring the various social platforms. At the end of the day, for business, the marketing objectives of any organization should always be considered in this medium. But there is no right "fit" or magic formula for any entity - until it's explored, tried, failed, explored more and sharpened until communicating and sharing via social feels as comfortable as any tried and true medium. Just for the record, I haven't reached my 10,000 hours yet. But I'm well on my way and I hope you are too. Until then, words like ROI won't exist. I am committed to working at it like anything else in order to see what works and what doesn't. Join me in my quest; here's how I'm spending my hours:
1) Sign up for everything. Every network has some significance and you won't know what that is if you don't try it all. As a child, did you only like certain foods? Social media is something to taste test, or you won't be able to say why you won't like it. And sometimes just trying it once doesn't mean you won't like it later on, so don't give up.
2) Like and follow. This seems like a no brainer, but if you don't like someone else, they won't like you back - mostly because they don't know you're out there. Try liking a lot of people, truly search for the right person to like and ask them something. I dare you!
3) Read and share. If you are like me, reading all the great blogs out there is a lot of fun to dig into, because there are so many perspectives. Try taking it a step further and share their stuff that you like out to your network. It helps to establish your point of view of the topic, which gives your audience context and insight into your thinking. Give the author credit and include a link to their blog. What the heck, tell them directly why you liked it. You're bound to make their day... I know it makes mine.
4) Listen. The majority of the Internet is still in listening mode. Listening to what others are saying will come in handy, not only for your own education and understanding but also in the creation of your own authentic content when you are ready to share.
5) Create. You know you have thoughts of your own to share, so get past the social anxiety and try some things out. For the most part, you can't say anything wrong. Heck, I've had my share of people who disagree me with me. Ironically, I actually enjoy it because it means I get to explore other perspectives and I'm thankful they care enough to disagree. It means they're engaged, and I wouldn't have known otherwise.
6) Get socially spiritual. I don't know how to say this without sounding too spiritual, but everything has to come from your heart and at the right moment for you. You have to feel it, deep down; otherwise, it just won't be authentic. You may want to save something that has been on your mind and then share it when the moment is right. Make sure to write it all down somewhere (I use Evernote) so you have it ready to share when you're moved to do so.
7) Track it. Some shares resonate and some don't. If you track what you are sharing, you can see what's resonating via how many clicks, reshares, ReTweets, etc you are getting. By tracking this, just like you do on your corporate site, you'll know if you are on the right track or if you need to go in a different direction. I primarily use HootSuite and Buffer for insight into my content. Seeing something work (or not) and making small "1°" shifts along the way will eventually make a massive difference - but you'll only know if you're tracking it.
Key takeaway: It takes a lot of time, investment and commitment to become a true expert at anything. If you're willing to go the distance with social and put in the time, be ready to fail and track what's working or not, the quest to 10,000 hours is yours for the taking.
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