Social Media
1- Getting Started

Do you love engaging with social media or begrudge every minute? Are you engaging with social media strictly to support and grow your business or do you use it as a vital lifeline that makes you feel part of a community?

Understanding not only your target customer or client’s comfort level with and dependence on social media but your own preferences and habits is vital to creating a social media plan you can live with — let alone one that will work for you. You need a plan that will both grow your business and help you build your niche community… without feeling forced, unnatural or a chore.

In this series, we’re going to take a look at and set ourselves up for success with four social media giants — Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn. But first, let’s give ourselves a Social Media makeover…

Step One: Where Are You on the Social Media Scale?

To take the “hit-and-miss” element out of social media business success, it’s important to:

  • Make it part of your overall business plan
  • Make sure your social media efforts support your main goal
  • Understand your customers or clients
  • Know where they regularly hang out

Understanding your own online social preferences and habits is a vital part of creating a plan that’s actually going to work for you. Where do you fit in, on the social media scale?

Whether we’re talking about you or your customer, it’s important to understand that your personality automatically changes when you enter any social media platform. Talking to your customer on Twitter won’t find you interacting the way you would if she were to physically walk into your office and sit down with you, face to face.

Talking to your customer on Facebook is not the same as interacting on Twitter. And interacting on Twitter is definitely not the same as posting on LinkedIn or chatting on Google+.

The nature of each platform itself pre-defines how a person responds to it… as well as defining what types of people it attracts.

Let’s look at Twitter, for example. People who post exclusively on Twitter:

  • Are generally more extroverted than introverted
  • Dislike “hanging out”
  • Prefer immediate results
  • Like being “in the moment”, real-time
  • Goal-oriented

But let’s take the guesswork out of Twitter. Take the free Twitter-oriented personality test at Ipersonic.com. One of the first things you may notice is that the results are closely aligned to results you may have received from the Myers-Briggs personality test, should you ever have been required to take one back in your workplace days.

When it comes to personality tests, Myers-Briggs is an industry standard in the corporate world, dividing people into whether or not they are:

  • Introvert or extrovert
  • Sensing or intuitive
  • Thinking or feeling
  • Judging or perceiving

Introverts outnumber extroverts on Twitter. No matter what type of introvert you are, certain common Twitter characteristics and motivations emerge for a Twitter introvert:

  • Social media involvement feels more of a chore than a pleasure
  • You are likely to be on the “less” side of any Assertiveness Scale
  • You don’t like interrupting your main money-making activity and/or passion to go interact socially
  • You easily lose track of time while absorbed in your work
  • You dislike confrontation
  • You prefer a neutral, stress-free social platform where interaction doesn’t become too intense
  • You like Twitter because it’s set up to be easy (and not intense)

If you are a Twitter extrovert, however, you are likely to be more motivated to post on Twitter rather than on other social networks, because:

  • You hate wasting time
  • You crave instant feedback
  • You like to get straight to the point
  • You have a direct message to convey
  • You like Twitter because it’s easy and gets the job done, real-time

If you absolutely hate social media engagement, then Twitter may be your best choice. It is the easiest and quickest platform to use. You can pre-schedule tweets for the day through social media management tools such as HootSuite if you have a repeating announcement you need to make. You can literally spend two minutes on it — and be sure of not missing replies when you check your Twitter account later in the day.

But it’s important to also evaluate your niche clientele or audience, and make sure they’re on the same page with you. (No point running a careful Twitter campaign if they only interact on Google+ or Facebook!)

Beyond that, evaluate if they are roughly the same Twitter type as you… or your mirror image: E.G. you’re a Twitter introvert, they’re all Twitter extroverts.

No matter whether you tip the scale towards introversion or extroversion, if you prefer Twitter you are likely to be a “doer”, rather than a planner. If you have planned, you’ve done it long ago, and are now acting on that plan.

Step Two: What’s Your Social Media Type?

1. Other Personality Types So we have Myers-Briggs as a well established personality-type indicator… and, more recently, the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, which places people into sixteen basic psychological profiles based on four temperament types.

Taking free adapted versions of these tests will help you understand more about you… and the differences or similarities your fellow social network participants bring to the virtual table:

Keirsey divides people into four basic temperament types:

Taking the test is quick — simply answering multiple-choice questions via radio button:

The Myers-Briggs test, on the other hand, concentrates on discovering whether you are more extrovert than introvert, thinking vs. perceiving, sensing vs. feeling and intuitive vs. judging. It takes only a couple of minutes to perform, and it too consists of answering multiple-choice questions via radio button:

Completing the questions results in a page presenting a profile and explaining your “type” to you. There are several versions of the Myers-Briggs test on the net, but if you’re the type who doesn’t like wasting time, Human Metrics allows you to see your corresponding Keirsey profile straight away, without having to spend time taking the Keirsey test:

Taking the time to understand these basic psychology tests will set you on an equal footing with multi-billion dollar corporations, who sort all their executives (and frequently lower-level staff) this way. (In fact, in a corporate job interview you are often expected to know and discuss your Myers-Briggs type as part of the process.)

It will also help you understand your niche clientele or audience… and bring better results when you concentrate your energies to interact on their (and hopefully your own) favorite social network.

2. Other Social Platforms — Understanding that we’re dealing with the “Big Four” in this lesson series, let’s bring our newfound knowledge to these platforms.

Is there any empirical evidence that various “types” favor a particular platform?

And is there a platform that suits all types of online entrepreneur?

Certainly multiple types hang out on the same platforms, but the big clue to look for lies in who is your most active type of social platform follower or “friend”?

Two ways to determine are:

  • Observation
  • Metrics

Combine the two together, and you will have a much clearer and more accurate picture.

Adrian Chan of Gravity7 has identified 11 types of common social media user, which he presents in Part III of an in-depth SlideShare presentation that is well worth checking out. Even at three years old (ancient in the world of social media) these observations still prove themselves evergreen and can provide you with valuable clues as to who you’re dealing with on your social media sites — and what is really motivating them.

Chan identifies his eleven basics types as:

  • The Status Seeker
  • The Critic
  • The Socializer
  • The Em-cee
  • The Lurker
  • The Buddy
  • The Creator
  • The Pundit
  • The Rebel
  • The officiator
  • The Harmonizer

For example, if your most active followers on a particular social platform noticeably display three or more of the following characteristics, it’s a safe bet you’ve attracted a bunch of “Critic” type social media types:

This may or may not cause you to tailor your approach (depending on whether or not this was the type of follower you really wanted to attract)… or it may prompt you to change your own interaction style — or your products!

One thing you should never do on social media sites, if business is your primary purpose for being there. And that is solely and habitually react.

Observe. Analyze. Check. Plan.

That will help you engage with your desired audience most actively on any social network you decide to patronize. And on all you will find both extroverted and introverted versions — but do analyze to see if one group predominates over the other.

For now, however, here is a quick general overview of who uses which network the most habitually and actively…

Facebook Relationship-based users Social/Business
Google+ Content-based usersBusiness-based users Business/Information
Twitter Topic-based usersCelebrities (at least in their own niches — or minds!) Business/InformationBusiness/Self-promotionBranding
LinkedIn Business-based users Business/BrandingAvailability

We’ll agree that all of the above are interested in networking. And you’ll find many people on each network because they’ve been told they have to do it.

This latter group will not be your most active group, and you’ll recognize them by the sheer amount of pre-setup posting they do, along with article links devoid of personal comment. (They seem to substitute article links for interaction). Targeting only this group will not yield a strong ROI.

Identifying your audience; their motivations, needs, personality types, styles and what triggers them (for good or bad) should be a habitual, ongoing study as you traverse your social media networks.

Helping yourself to a basic understanding of social media personality types should provide you with general indicators — but common sense and personal observation and analysis should count for a major portion of your conclusions.

Step Two: Understanding Flow Patterns

Okay, so you’ve put some thought and study into your own social media network’s personality types, motivations and preferences: Now it’s time to back up or adjust your conclusions by observing and analyzing flow patterns in social media interaction.

Here’s a basic way to start. Ask yourself:

  1. What types of posts you make elicit the most comments?
  1. Who are your most engaged followers or friends? (What type?)
  1. Who consistently pops up again on other networks you visit?
  1. What motivates your most engaged fellow networker?

In addition, there are basic social metrics you should monitor.

  • Visitors
  • Traffic sources
  • Comments
  • Rise and fall of involvement
  • Number of “friends” or followers
  • Increase in “friends” or followers
  • Conversion (to subscribers, sales)
  • Bounce rates (when people leave your sites almost as fast as they arrive)

Each of the four major social networks provides some form of tracking and feedback. The shocking part is that according to several sources, approximately 85% of all small companies and online entrepreneurs don’t bother to track.

  1. Start by making sure you install sharing devices embedded in every single one of your social media pages, blog sidebars, bios (where appropriate) and websites. By “sharing devices”, I mean badges and chiclets that let people “share”, “like”, “tweet”, etc.
  2. Track which posts incite the most engagement (comments, sharing).
  3. Include calls to actionin posts and on social networks encouraging people to share, tweet, pass on, etc. (This can be as simple as adding “Tell your friends” or “Please share” at the end of a post, or sending email invitations via Facebook.)
  4. Use YouTube to create content you can share on social networks — “How to” videos, video reviews, funny clips, etc.
  5. Use Google Analytics and/or ad serving tracking platforms
  6. Promptly answer or acknowledge every comment (or at least press the “Like” button, if you’re on Facebook).

But how can you tell the value of your data?

When viewing results such as increased participation, ask yourself if it has made any impact to your conversions (to subscribers, sales).

(We will discuss in more detail specific tracking options for Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter during the upcoming lessons for these particular social networks.)

Remember that “flow” doesn’t just refer to metrics, however: “Flow” also means keeping your follower or fan happy and engaged, so that he or she feels “in the zone” and time flies by without even being noticed.

Experiment with different types of content to see which types engage your audience the most. Some suggestions:

  • Polls
  • Quizzes
  • Contests
  • Tools you create, get special deals for or tip your audience off about
  • Apps you create
  • Quick “How to” videos
  • Themes (E.G. “Mad Monday”, “Quote of the Day”, etc.)
  • Questions

Stop soothing your conscience by mindlessly distributing all those pre-scheduled links to other people’s posts: The plain truth is you can’t engage your audience without your own engagement with them! You can shortcut a little… but pre-scheduled posts should be kept in reserve for when you’re too busy to check your social sites, and regarded as a last-ditch way to stay in front of your fans.

Step Three: Social Media Procrastination

The points we’ve covered so far may seem pretty labor-intensive. They’re not. It’s knowing how to network effectively that creates a strong presence and following — not the precise number of minutes or hours you hang out on social networks.

A habitual five minutes a day of acknowledging or making comment responses and hitting your “Like” button is more likely to increase your visibility and trust factor than all the scholarly articles in the world. Yet many people engage in social networking only on a “hit-and-miss” basis — or avoid it altogether.

Whether you’re a “hit-and-miss” poster or a socio-webophobe, it all boils down to the same sin: Procrastination. (Yes. Even if you ARE too busy to live.)

Want to know nine common causes of social networking procrastination?

  • Anxiety
  • Fear of addiction
  • Dislike of social networking
  • The belief it’s a “waste of time”
  • Disorganization
  • Distraction
  • Reactivity
  • Lack of proactivity and planning
  • Laziness

Whatever the cause, you need to tackle that issue right now. (Remember, we’re not talking becoming a social media guru here: We’re only talking about a few minutes a day with two or more of the “Big Four” networks.

Think about it. If you were running an offline business, would you put up a website, and then sit in your office waiting for the world to discover you? Or would you be out and about, drumming up business.

Even offline, your best business leads often come from word-of-mouth recommendations — and the fact that people “know” you. If they’ve met you helping out at the annual Terry Fox Run, they’re able to put a face to your name, when they discover it while looking for local web designers. People want the personal touch — and that’s even more true on social networks.

So ignoring them is akin to sitting at home, never, ever volunteering, taking a booth at a craft fair, offering to give a talk to your local Chamber of Commerce, attending networking breakfasts, carrying your business cards around with you or whipping out your elevator speech. Doesn’t make sense, does it? Perhaps on a Disney movie or in a cheesy romance novel large clients might drop out of the sky… but that’s not usually how it works.

When you realize that social networking replaces all this legwork when you run an online business, procrastination becomes no option at all!

Start by spending that five minutes a day commenting on posts you like, sharing highly relevant content with selected followers or simply clicking “tweet”, “Share” or “Like”. Make it the same time, every day — and don’t miss it for at least three months! NASA experiments show that the human brain will actually create a neural pathway for the new behavior… but it takes a good couple of months for these pathways not to “grow back” if you don’t walk there every day.

Once you’ve created the habit you’ll have plenty of time to refine your social networking skills.

But start today!

Step Four: Two BIG Social Media Mistakes You Want To Avoid

Two of the biggest hidden pitfalls in social media engagement? Blind, token acceptance and a lack of analysis.

Here’s how it goes: Your average internet entrepreneur buys a guide to social media and business. They attempt to follow the recommendations, but because these recommendations are largely re-hashed without presenting the psychology behind the recommendations, the new habits don’t “stick”.

What does stick seems to be a half-hearted conviction that social media interaction is necessary. In trying to follow a prescribed path, all natural flow quickly gets tossed out with the bath-water: What the average internet entrepreneur ends up doing is tweeting or posting either sporadically and inconsistently… or bombarding the social media platform with spammy post after post about other people’s links.

Understanding yourself, your preferences and habits is the single most crucial factor in social media success.

You need to identify:

  • Your communication likes… and dislikes
  • Which social network feels the most comfortable
  • Your fears about social networking
  • Your current popularity level
  • What you want to achieve
  • How it will fit in with your overall business plan
  • Your personality type

This last point is especially important. It will tip you off ahead of time to potential pitfalls.
For example, if you are a Social type, you may find your particular pitfall becomes spending too much time on social networks. If you are an escapist and procrastinator, you may find yourself quickly becoming addicted to games. (When you consider that most social networking games are set up to keep you playing longer and longer, the danger becomes even greater.)

Both types of addiction result in reduced productivity.

There are other types of dangers to consider: For example, if you are the needy type who networks for feedback and approval, you may find yourself sharing personal details that detract from your business image.

Creating a plan and then assiduously sticking to it is the best way to guard against these types of problems.

TIP: Say your goals out loud before every social networking session. Try to phrase them in a positive light, rather than focusing on what you don’t want in your life right now…

The idea being that human beings subconsciously create whatever they focus their energy upon.

Dwelling on a negative goal — what you won’t or don’t want to do — only reinforces the importance of that subject in your subconscious (no matter how much your conscious mind grimly determines to do the reverse!)

Your attention is drawn away from what you want to accomplish… unwittingly reinforcing the negative you want to avoid.

Precautions to take:

  • Be selective
  • Don’t fall into the trap of “friending” or “following” someone just because you know them elsewhere online
  • Don’t fall into the trap of “friending” or “following” someone just because they ask you to
  • Do be aware that stalkers hang out on social media
  • Never, ever post article links because you have nothing else to say: Post them because you know it’s something your followers will really appreciate.

Ten Mistakes Not to Make:

  1. Posting comments that don’t add value… or worse — make you sound like a fourteen-year-old. (“OMG!”, “LOL – WTF?”)
  2. Not using hashtags on Twitter
  3. Not finding out what a hashtag is and what it can do for you, if you don’t know
  4. Not including a call to action at every (natural) opportunity
  5. Not ensuring you’ve put badges and chiclets everywhere on the net where you post content
  6. “Disappearing” from your chosen social network for days (or weeks… or months) at a time
  7. Reappearing, and acting as if the world is falling all over you, waiting to hear your explanations
  8. Focusing on your own needs, rather than really listening to your followers and friends
  9. Forgetting it’s all about building a community — and staying to participate
  10. Not tracking your results

Step Five: Finally — Your Customer or Client

It’s only now that we are finally ready to arrive at the place most social media guides start — asking yourself: “Where does my ideal target customer/client hang out?”

Take everything we’ve learned about personality types and put this week’s homework into practice on the social networks you frequent, and you will have a much more accurate answer than if you relied strictly on keyword targeting alone.

Social media is not where you’ll close most of your sales — it’s where you’ll build trust, connect and become known.

Next week, we’ll take a look at Facebook — and what’s currently working (and not working) there…

WEEKLY ASSIGNMENT:

  1. Follow the links in this lesson and learn what you can about personality types.
  2. Take the Myers-Briggs and Keirsey tests. See how accurately the results mirror (or don’t mirror) your personality.
  3. Read up on the profiles for your types, as provided by the test results.
  4. Think about how your personality traits “translate” into the way you view (and use or don’t use) social media.
  5. List your social media strengths.
  6. List your social networking weaknesses.
  7. Analyze your existing friends, followers and subscribers as best you can and attempt to identify their preferences.