For a long time I resisted buying into the whole social media hype. Facebook? Why would anyone want to see who my friends are? Twitter. Please. I really don’t care about the Pop-Tart® you ate for breakfast.
Eventually I learned that social media is more than posting photos of your weekend or sharing the contents of your meals. It has a future and if you want your career to have a future, you can either hop on the truck or watch it bounce by with all those (gasp!) happy, chatty strangers.
So I gave in. I opened a Facebook account, then a StumbleUpon account, then Twitter, Digg, Delicious, Reddit. And last Thursday, wonder of wonders, I participated in a thing called Social Media Boot Camp, a generous project designed by Chris Heuer and Howard Greenstein, founders of Social Media Club, who normally charge much more for the advice they give.
As a social media pioneer, I’m not claiming guru status. I’d like to pass on what I learned at the camp from its founders and other savvy advisors:
1. Whether you’re looking to market a Web site, a product or another service, Chris Heuer advised audiences to identify their best customers. “What characteristics define them? Find those characteristics and try to recreate them.”
2. Howard Greenstein, also a founder of SMC and a columnist for Inc., advised the audience to realize we’re working in a “gift economy.” If you learn something valuable or discover a new tool, share it with others. And for journalists and other bloggers, he added, “Find and write great articles that help people.”
3. Dan Zarrella researched the nature of Twitter and explained “How to Get ReTweets.” A tweet is a message you send on Twitter, a retweet is a message that someone else sends and you share with your friends politely, marking the tweet with a "RT" to note it wasn’t your own thought. The most common word seen in retweets is “please,” as in “please retweet.” According to Zarrella, if you want people to share an article you’ve written or discovered, all you have to do is ask.
They cited the example of charity: water. When Scott Harrison turned 31, he asked all of his friends skip buying presents and donate $31 to help build wells in Africa. As a thank you, he sent them photos of villagers staring at fresh wells with amazed faces. The next year, others took up his cause asking their friends to do the same thing.
5. And lastly, Chris Heuer reminded, “Serve your market.” While it may seem obvious, a lot of people get caught up in meeting their own needs and forget to listen to their customers. “Help people, save time, make money, get more done, be happy, find meaning, connect with others and find greater satisfaction.”
Thanks for reading and good luck putting these suggestions into practice.
Senior Writer and former technophobe