Practical Steps to Getting Started in Social Media – Step 1: Learn

learn social mediaYesterday, we kicked off a new series called Practical Steps to Getting Started in Social Media.  If you didn’t read the intro post to the series, I recommend you click over and read it first.

The first practical step to getting started in social media is to learn the basics of one particular social network.  Let’s break that down into 5 sub-steps:

1a) Pick one network

If you’re just getting started in social media, the first step I recommend is to pick one social networking platform.  At this point in time, if you haven’t used any social networking platforms, it probably makes the most sense to start with Facebook since it has by far the most users.  If you’re already using Facebook and you want to dive into Twitter, LinkedIn, or something else, that’s great too.  As I wrote in the intro, this series is being written broadly enough to be applicable to any social network in existence today or in the future.

The point, though, is to focus on one social network at a time.

1b) Create an account for yourself

As mentioned in the intro, it’s very important to become proficient in a social network as a user before you try to use it for your organization.  So, create the account for yourself not your organization.

1c) Read the “getting started guide”

I know, I know,  nobody likes to read the instructions.  Frankly, I don’t think reading a manual first is all that helpful.  I find it much more helpful to create an account first, and then go back and forth between clicking around in the account and reading the getting started guide.  Here are some examples of the “getting started” guides provided by the social networks themselves.

1d) Set-up your profile

A profile is a part of every social network.  It usually includes a picture, a brief bio, and your location.

Don’t agonize over your profile right now. Later in the process, after you’re more familiar with the social network, you can “optimize” your profile to achieve better results. All you want to do initially is put up some basic information so people see you’re a real person.

Two tips right off the bat.

  • Use a picture of yourself.  For better or worse, your face is your brand.  It’s what people remember and identify with.  Plus research shows people are far more trusting and willing to engage with people who use a picture of themselves for their profile picture.
  • Keep your bio/description basic – what you do and some of your interests.  Remember, in most networks your bio is public, so don’t do anything stupid here.

1e) Look over getting started guides

There are tons of online guides with names like Facbook 101, getting started on Twitter, etc.  Search Google and look some of them over.

What getting started guides would you recommend?

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

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