10 tips: A beginner's guide to social media

Thought Leadership on Innovative Tech presented by SWK Technologies.

Around the SWK offices, and in a few networking and business groups I meet with regularly, I’ve become a sort of social media “go-to” guy.

I am not really sure how this happened, but I embrace the role enthusiastically. And, I’ve found that it has helped tremendously as I’ve built my business.

If you’ve dismissed social media in the past, I suggest you reconsider. Here are 10 tips to get you started.

I am sure the SWK staff has heard quite enough from me about using LinkedIn groups, reconnecting with former business associates, becoming active in discussion forums and gaining more Twitter followers. We even have an internal SWK Tech group on LinkedIn that we use to set goals for the year! Clearly, we’re really social — and you can be too. It just takes a little bit of your time.

First Step: Determine how much you know about social

As a follow-up to a social media discussion at one of our network meetings, a local attorney came to my office for an hour and I gave him a high level, one-on-one LinkedIn tutorial that absolutely captivated him. But, what did I learn? As I walked him through what I do on these sites, it became apparent that I actually know much more than I thought I did.

These tips will get you started:

  • 1. Make sure you have photos. All social media sites have sections for photos. On Twitter, make sure you’ve uploaded a good photo of yourself (do not leave that egg picture in there), and on LinkedIn, make sure you include a professional-looking headshot and a background photo. Your background photo takes up a good amount of the top of the page, so try using it to show what your company does, or to highlight your company’s accomplishments.
  • 2. Keep your profile up to date. Each month, take fifteen minutes to update your social profiles. Include recent company awards, recent job titles, etc.

Next: Make social media “second nature”

Social media has become somewhat of a “second nature” to me. After all, I visit the sites on my laptop and smartphone throughout the day. As most of us do, I struggle with updating my status, and with figuring out interesting tweets. I used to overthink this, but it’s much easier when I think in terms of imparting information about something I’ve read or seen that would benefit others.

These tips will help you figure out what to post:

  • 3. Share other people’s work, not just your own. One of the easiest ways to keep an active presence on social media is to share what others have done. In fact, I’ve read studies confirming that sharing more (and tooting your own horn less) on Twitter and LinkedIn helps build trust in your brand.
  • 4. Endorse and recommend people often. LinkedIn is set up as a relationship-building platform for professionals, and one of the easiest ways to network and build relationships is to be generous to others. Take time each month to endorse your connections for things you know they do well, and to write publicly visible recommendations for people you’ve worked with.

Important: Don’t think you have to be everywhere at once

I’m an avid user of LinkedIn and Twitter, but somehow I’ve avoided Facebook, especially when requested to do so several years ago by my then-teenage daughter. By doing so, it has kept my focus on the benefits of social media to “business only.”

Tips for finding success on social media:

  • 5. Worry about people and connections, not about milestones or goals. It’s easy to get sucked into the idea that you have to be on every social media platform, but if you spread your attention too thin, none of your social media profiles will be effective. Focus only on the social media that makes sense to you. Remember that you can always open up more social media accounts on other platforms later.

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