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Social Media For Beginners

How many social networking sites exist? It’s hard to know, but the most populous ones by far are Facebook and Twitter. When it comes to professional networking LinkedIn wins hands down. Video you say? Uh, YouTube.

Now that the big guns are on the table the next question is, “What do we do with them?” That, my friends, has a short answer and a very LONG answer. For simplicity sake, I will unpack the short answer for just Twitter and Facebook…

I’m assuming you have set up accounts at the major networks (mentioned above). Let me begin with the distinctive of each…

Twitter – A short sound byte megaphone. It is a superb medium for getting word out to large audiences very quickly. Recent examples would be the Arab uprisings that spread like wildfire over social networks. Remember the Iranian election uprisings a while back? CNN got major backlash for being too slow to disseminate content regarding the election uprisings… Twitter had them beat.

  • How many times a day should you tweet? Well, that depends on your purpose in using the service. A bare minimum would be once per day, but if you want to enter into more extensive networks and connections it would be advantageous to post updates six to ten times per day (or more). An extreme example, sometimes referred to as a ‘firehouse’ effect, is Guy Kawasaki.
  • What should you promote? Depends on what you value? If you have tweeted for some time and want to know your label as a Twitter user, just sign up at Klout and check out the grid. Basically, you want to have a well-constructed statement followed by a shortlink and then possibly some hashtags to target a particular audience.
  • Can you interact with other Twitter users? Absolutely. Utilize the mention feature or send a direct message (though you and that user must be mutually following each other to use this). Browse different profiles to see how conversations are taking place. You’ll get the hang of it eventually.
  • How can you keep track of certain users more closely? Create a list and add your favorites to that list. Then, whenever you want to see what they’re tweeting about just pull up the list on Twitter or any well-built API.

Facebook – A conversational platform 700 million strong developed by Mark Zuckerberg.

  • How often should you post an update? Depends on your lifestyle. Some update every few minutes and others every other month.
  • How can you interact with other users (or ‘friends’)? You’ll need to invite (or be invited)  ‘friends’ (by ‘friends’) to take advantage of full interaction capabilities. Once the friendship is accepted then you are free to collaborate and see each others’ content. One of the advantages, for some, is this ‘walled garden’ effect that gives a certain level of privacy. Realize that you can change your privacy settings too.
  • You have a business or organization. How can you use Facebook to promote that? Set up either a Fan Page or a Group to showcase your venture. People will need to ‘like’ your fan page in order to see updates in their stream. You have the power to invite anyone of your friends into a group. These are ideal for class reunions, and can be set to complete privacy for deeper interaction.

So, how can I integrate Twitter and Facebook in my daily routine? This is not a simple question to answer, as it will depend on the person and their lifestyle. However, a rule of thumb is to use Twitter for quick sharing of content or your business vision. It’s like walking into a large room of strangers and making a lot of small talk, with a focus on introductions and networking. Facebook, on the other hand, is entering a room filled with acquaintances and friends who you would enjoy more detailed conversations with.

You’ll notice many businesses and organizations have a Twitter and Facebook badge on their sites or on their products. Because we are such a mobile society and even the culture of the work environment has changed, more and more conversations are happening over social media.

Don’t let the seemingly complex nature of social networks discourage you—remember using your first cell phone?

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