Like countless others, five years ago I started using social media. To use it effectively, I did what I always do: I educated myself. I read a bunch of blog posts and a few books. (Trust Agents was especially helpful at the time.) I attended conferences and spoke to smart cookies who knew more than I did at the time.
That’s just how you learn.
Change the behavior and you may change the outcome.
It didn’t take long for me to get the hang of it. Social media isn’t rocket surgery. Within a few months, I understood the following:
- Less is more.
- Don’t tweet every eight seconds.
- Hashtags were useful.
- Engage with others.
- Respond to comments on your site—and others.
- Avoid link bait.
Yet I didn’t like calling myself a social media expert. The term just seemed pretentious, and there were plenty of poseurs claiming to be experts because they knew how to set up a Facebook fan page. Plus, I didn’t spend all of my time on social media. I fancied myself a business and technology guy, not a Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn specialist.
These days, though, I’m reevaluating things. I see far too many companies that fail to abide by generally accepted social media practices. I’m talking about using Twitter and Facebook in downright spammy ways. Some will tweet but fail to include the Twitter handles of the people who wrote the very article about which they’re tweeting. And then there are the questionable calls to action.
Maybe I really am a social media expert?
It seems so basic to me. If you want to use a tool effectively, learn how. In my experience, people and companies who fail to see the benefits from social media are probably making some fundamental mistakes. Change the behavior and you may change the outcome.