Many times, I am asked, how do you find time for social media, and I would guess that the answer is simpler than you might think.
Simply put, I don't 'find time,' I make it.
Take email, for example. Twelve years ago many of us didn't have time for it. How are we going to find time to sift through all of this spam? But you know what - we made time, and now we can't imagine a life without it.
It's been over ten years since we learned "You've Got Mail."
I think the mistake that we make is thinking of social media strictly as a marketing tool, or public relations tool. We treat it like a channel for broadcasting information. While it can be used in this way, we fail to see it as a communications tool.
Social media enables people to communicate with people, businesses to communicate with customers, and customers to give feedback to brands.
Social media is more like the telephone than the television, and more like email than an ad campaign.
The Social Media Lifestyle
Just like email, we all need to learn how to make social media a regular part of our lifestyle. Something that is more a part of who we are, rather than something we do at work. Even if your primary function with social media surrounds work, it is a lifestyle choice rather than a task on a to do list.
I don't believe in social media as a function of your job. If you do it at work, you need to do it on your own. It is the only way to really understand how it all works.
This day in age, many of us are trying to learn the social media way of life. We are trying to develop the social media lifestyle, if you will. Social is here stay, so we best get on board.
Pick up. It's Twitter calling.
Here are a few beginner tips on how to develop the social media way of life.
To get started, we really need to outline what it is we want to do. Too often, we approach goal setting with learning in mind. For example, "I want to learn more about social media." This is the wrong approach. I recommend something like "I am going to start using Twitter daily," or "I am going to use Google+ more at home and at work." More specific goals can be appropriate too. For example, you could pledge to post 10 tweets per day, or getting involved in more conversations
One of the biggest killers to the social media way of life is inactivity. A few weeks with no tweets can be disastrous to a Twitter stream. If you aren't constantly creating a presence, you become irrelevant and uninteresting. Social networks are really good at burying posts from people that are no longer relevant. If you don't stay active, you lose relevancy and the attention of your peers.
Get a Smartphone
Here is a simple item that you can add to your social media to-do list. Constant connectivity is one of the most important aspects of the social media lifestyle. When you aren't connected, you aren't social. While many of us are desk-bound throughout the day, I find that social media is easiest to achieve when it is placed in the cracks of life. For example, when you are waiting for an elevator or sitting in a doctors office. Amazing amounts of conversation and sharing can happen in these moments.
Know Your WiFi
Some devices like tablets and iPods make great social media tools for people on the run. The only drawback is that they require WiFi access. If you are tied to one of these devices, know you access points. Is there a different coffee shop with great WiFi? Try something new and make a habit of going where the WiFi is. This will help encourage your social media habit.
Generate a List of Topics
One of the biggest deterrents to social media is not knowing what to say. What do you have to add to the conversation? Most of us feel like we have nothing to offer, but I promise that you do. We are all an expert at something. When developing a social media way of life, the key is to build your social media presence around what you know best. A list of topics that you want to discuss can be a good way to document this plan, and stick to it. When you find yourself running out of words, you will have something to refer to.
Be Willing to Share
One big problem for social media newbies is a lack of interest in sharing. It is easy to misunderstand social media and our privacy. There is a difference between sharing things about yourself, and giving away the farm. Sure, you don't need to say everything, but you need to say something. Great social media personalities have discovered the return on putting a little of themselves into each tweet. Social networks are made up of humans, so you need to act like one.
Most of us don't have what it takes to develop and pull off a second online identity. This takes an extraordinary amount of creative time and talent. The secret is, it isn't necessary. You get to be yourself online, and honestly, when you are yourself, you will do better than ever.
The social media way of life is upon us, no matter what we do. It isn't going away anytime soon and already has a major presence in every city and every industry. The sooner you learn to master it as part of your daily life, the sooner you will see and understand the benefits that it can provide.