Frequently Asked Questions: Why is "Social Media" so important?

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That’s a really good question and there are so many ways to answer it, but let’s focus on the basics. Remember when we were talking about ways to get publicity? Using the social media tools you have available to you (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc…) are a really powerful way to get publicity and ensure that YOU have control over the message you send out.

Let’s dig deeper into this, because this is the key of why social media is important to your publicity strategy. Let’s say the New York Times writes an article about you. The reporter asks you some questions, does some research on what you’ve done in the past and then writes an article.

Simple, right? But you have no idea whether the article will be favorable or not. Same goes with TV, radio, magazines…it’s easy for a quote to get taken out of context or for some clever editing to portray a scene that may have not really happened that way. This isn’t to say that all reporters or television producers are out to get you or even want to portray you negatively, but what they do want is to tell their story–not necessarily yours.

Using social media is the best way to get your message directly from your head to your readers or clients. And, the ultimate beauty of it is that there is an opportunity to get immediate feedback from your readers or clients. For example, once I post each blog entry, I periodically check back to read the comments you leave me. Why? Because I love hearing your feedback and I want to ensure we can have an open conversation about the topic at hand. That’s the best part about Social Media–the conversation.

What’s the best way for you to get started in the Social Media game? Here are some tips:

  • First and most important, make sure your website is up to date and “good.” If you’re not sure what that means, read some tips on what makes a good website here. I’d also suggest checking out others in your industry and seeing how they created their websites. That will give you a good base for where to start.
  • If you’re not already, think about starting a blog. Two notes of caution: 1) Blogs take up A LOT of your time and 2) There is a lot of competition for bloggers out there, so you have to make sure yours will stand out. Regarding issue #1, if you don’t have time to update your blog at least 2-3 times a week, it may not be worth starting one yet. You might want to instead focus your time on Social Media that you can handle. (Read on through the rest of this list). Regarding issue #2, the best advice I can give you is to speak like YOU. No one else has the same thoughts, experience, point of view about life that you do. The more you tie in your own experience and your personal, relevant, stories, the more your blog will sound different from others.
  • Are you tweeting yet? Why not? I have to admit that I was hesitant about Twitter when I first heard of it. I wasn’t sure why you should do it, but then I saw the amount of INFORMATION you can get from Twitter and the power and speed of the Internet. Depending on who you follow on Twitter, you can get the most up to date news about trends in your industry, what others are up to, and what in general people are talking about online. This is an easy way to gauge the relevancy of your own information you are providing, as well as staying up to date with whatever is going on out there. (Be careful, though. Twitter can become addicting.)
  • Facebook. Facebook is THE biggest social network out there currently. There are millions of people you are not reaching if you don’t have a Facebook page. One of the most important parts of Social Media is being where the people are. And hey, there are lots of people on Facebook.

So yes, Social Media is important but it can also take up A LOT of time. If it’s possible, see if you can recruit a web-savvy person on your team to help you start a Facebook page or Twitter account. There’s no need to do everything on this list, but try tackling one or two to get started and see how much of a difference it makes to your business.

Please tell me, what are your Social Media do’s and don’ts? Do you have any horror stories from when you first started tweeting or using Facebook?