A few days ago, I received a message from Klout, asking me: “What are the 3 most imporant pieces of advice, you can give to somebody new to social media?” The social media influence measuring service is sending me regularly questions. I can increase my “influence score”, when I answer them and consequently feel more important, if I chose to do so. (The pros and cons of this service can be discussed in detail, but in general, I think, that it is mostly a somehow narcissistic app.)
The question I did receive however, is an important one and I chose to answer it briefly. Here I would like to elaborate a little on the answers. Klout failed to specify, if the answer should be directed to individuals or organizations, but my answers are valid for both in any case.
1. think about WHO you would like to reach/ communicate with
The main question, anybody should ask oneself – why am I using social media? – naturally leads to the next basic question: “Who?”. For a private individual, the most common answer is “friends & family” – but for any organization it helps to take some time reflecting on this question and defining, who the most important people are (“the core circle”), one is trying to reach through social media.
2. Chose a channel, your core circle/ audience is also using
Just screaming something out to the world still does not guarantee, anybody is listening. It helps to chose a channel, my important contacts are also using frequently. A celebrity, just wanting to throw out her latest bread crumbs to her fan base can generate the most amount of followers easily and quickly via twitter. Some professional freelancers started their own circles on Google+ and connect them to other forums and web sites. There is no easy answer, but a little research goes a long way.
3. Take it slowly & easy, but use your chosen channel(s) regularly
Social media easily can establish the illusion, that one has an audience, but even with hundreds of friends, maybe only a small fraction will see my post on facebook. However, when I contribute interesting content and messages to my important contacts frequently, most of the algorithms of the social media channels help me to appear in the news streams of my core audience.
As a last advice: social media is not really useful for direct communication between individuals; sometimes an e-mail, text message or even a phone call will be much more beneficial.