A Startup Model for Social Media

July 11, 2009 at 4:11 am Leave a comment

Debi May 09I strongly believe that businesses are going to have to embrace social media as an integral part of their communication and marketing strategies if they want to be competitive. But, I still see a lot of skepticism, resistance, and even indifference among the professional ranks. I also believe these critics have good reason to turn their backs on this emerging force. There is no easy way to break into social media – at least no easy way to do it and be effective. At the end of this blog I have linked a Startup Model for Social Media that I think will help even the resisters get started. Here is how my model came to take shape:

Less than two months ago I decided to finally figure out what all this Social Media frenzy was about. I was aware of the social network, LinkedIn, because I had created an account a couple years ago when I was going through a career program at Right Management. The purpose was to join a network of professional people. I populated my page with all the required résumé-like information and connected with a few people I knew who also had LinkedIn accounts. That was March 2007.

In July 2008 my 17-year-old and 12-year-old nieces insisted that I needed a MySpace page, and they were more than happy to help me set that up. But, I was neither comfortable putting a whole lot of personal information on the Internet, nor did I feel like I had anything interesting to put there. I couldn’t understand why anyone would care what my favorite TV programs are, or what books I’ve read lately. I added some vacation pictures and made those available to my “friends,” who were my nieces, their parents, and a couple of my other siblings. But, I didn’t know anyone else I could invite from my social circle that had MySpace pages, nor was I convinced we needed this medium to communicate. I lost interest in the whole idea after a couple months.

With the constant reference to Twitter on television (the local news, entertainment news, talk shows) in the next several months, I knew I was going to have to check that out. And, two of my sisters who I see fairly often were always checking their Facebook pages on their phones, and that also caught my attention. Most compelling was the fact that I am a communication consultant and I suddenly realized that if I didn’t get up to speed on this emerging communication trend, I might as well take down my shingle, roll up my tent, and call it quits.

In May 2009 I set up my Facebook page and got registered on Twitter. I spent time getting familiar with those two sites, discovered some of their features, experimented by doing searches and connecting with people. I started a journal – I guess that would be a blog in today’s terms – to document my activity on this project. In May I logged 26.75 hours on what I now refer to as SM Research (Social Media).

In June I became almost obsessive. If it weren’t for a bit of real consulting work that came my way, I would have spent even more time on this project. As it was, I logged 127.75 hours of productive time. Some of that time was spent setting up a website, which I ended up converting to a blog site. (There is some trial-and-error time here, but I consider it “productive,” because there is great value in learning from mistakes.) I wrote my first couple of blogs, and came to realize that blogging is an acquired taste, and doesn’t necessarily come naturally or easily. Most of my research time was spent reading others’ blogs, industry articles, websites, and the ‘help’ sections of social media sites. I continued to gain practical experience on Twitter and Facebook, and resurrected by LinkedIn account by updating it and getting familiar with some of its myriad features.

Somewhere in mid-June it occurred to me that learning the mysteries of social media was like drinking from a fire hose. No wonder it’s more popular with students and adolescents; and most business people and professionals perceive it as a time waster. You can really get lost in this stuff! Even after all the time I put into this research so far, I’m not feeling anything close to being a “social media expert.” But, I do see its tremendous potential for business use. Unfortunately, the barrier to entry is the learning curve, which is steep and high.

This, I decided, is where I as a communication consultant, can add value. I don’t ever expect to become an expert at using social media, because it really would require a full-time commitment over a long period of time to achieve such status. However, I can use my expertise in communication theory and application, combined with the knowledge I’m acquiring about social media through my own research, and add that to the practical experience I gain through my use of social media to drive my own business.

Based on that, I offer this presentation. It is a model for the startup phase of using social media for business. It appears simple – the presentation, that is. The process isn’t necessarily simple. It requires work. It requires time. But anything worth having always does. My hope, though, is that I can help people cut through some of the clutter and chaos, and get right down to the business of structuring a social media campaign that is worth the time and work . . . and becomes a profit center. You have to start somewhere. Social Media is not going away. Let me help you get started.

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Entry filed under: Learning, Social Media.

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