Facebook has now reached over 500 million users.
Twitter has billions of 140-character messages.
There are 100 million potential business contacts on LinkedIn.
Pretty impressive, huh?
With that growing penetration in mind, you may be wondering though: What do I do now? What should I write about? What should I be sharing?
If you’re interested in social media as a way to build trust and influence online, there are no “big bang” theories or shortcuts. It’s more about the cumulative value of small actions, slow and incremental, over time – more like evolution. You’re going to need to approach social media with patience and a long-term commitment.
It is said that you can’t buy influence online, you have to earn it. There is a whole new economy of sharing emerging and an amazing array of tools and resources at your disposal.
Here, then, are some practical ways you can begin to use social media to build your online profile and, with it, your influence:
1. Use Twitter to share what you did or what you learned in your social media course, for example. For instance: “Just finished great #socialmedia training with @instructorname. Highly recommend it for other #yourprofession.”
Note: The use of hashtags – # followed by a text string – allows your tweets to be cross referenced by other Twitter users following those hashtags. If you have no idea what a hashtag is, you should probably not compliment your social media course instructor publically. Just saying.
2. Scan an old photo from your personal archive and share it on Facebook. Make sure to tag people who are pictured so the photo appears on their Facebook wall. Also, be sure to choose an old picture in which your friends and acquaintances look good – no one likes being embarrassed with a really, really, really old photo. Remember, the goal is to share, add value and generate discussion. The last thing you want is people unfriending and unfollowing you because you’re embarrassing them.
3. Update your LinkedIn status and tell your connections about a great article you just read. Make sure the subject matter is related to your area of expertise or specialty and make sure you clarify in a sentence or two what makes it such a great article for you. You get bonus points if the article you are sharing has been written by an existing connection or colleague. One good turn deserves another and the person whose article you share should be looking for ways to help promote your work next time.
4. Subscribe to a handful of your favourite web sites and/or online newsletters and review the articles that come in. Read whatever grabs your attention. Then, share them! Don’t waste time reading something without sharing it.
Whether you like it or not, if you’ve invested time in reading an article you should share your feelings and observations. If you didn’t think it was worth the time, then share that opinion in an effort to help inform someone else’s choice about whether or not to invest their time.
If you loved it, well tell the world, or at least your followers, why. Just remember, if you are being critical, be constructive. Excessive negativity doesn’t play well online.
5. Don’t have time to write a blog post? Share, share and share some more. You are a content filter and you can develop your brand identity by sharing other people’s high quality content. Be a curator of good content and demonstrate your mastery of a topic by directing people to that content. You are what you share. But beware – this cuts both ways.