Overcoming Your Fears of Social Media

Contrary to popular belief not everybody is engaged in social media. In fact, recent Pew research reveals some surprising statistics about the level of engagement among various market segments. While their research suggests that 50 percent of adults do use social media, fully 50 percent do not. You may be among the non-engaged and, if you are, there’s a chance you may be missing out (I say chance because, of course, the key thing you need to determine is to what extent your target audience is engaged.)

Many business people I work with, or interact with, express various levels of engagement with social media, as well as various levels of understanding of its value. They also express varying levels of concern or “fear” about engaging with others through social media. After all, these discussions are wide open for the world to see, quite literally.

How to get over these fears? Here are some suggestions:

• Pick the right social media tools for you; do this by focusing on business-related measurable outcomes and clearly identifying your target audience(s). Be specific. The more narrowly and precisely you can define your target audience (and develop goals/objectives for your interactions with them) the more focused and relevant your posts and conversations can be (and that’s what really matters!).

• Listen and learn for a while. Don’t jump immediately into conversations. Take some time to learn the culture and style of any group or social media site you’re hoping to interact with.

• Commit to sharing, even if what you have to offer is knowledge/information. Social media is about sharing and helping others. While sales may certainly be the final desired outcome, your approach online should be designed around providing value to your target audience(s) – don’t be afraid to share. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the more you share the more they care!

• Treat social media as you do real-life situations. Despite it’s scope, the process is the same – people dealing with people.

• Start on a small scale. As you’re building your social media presence your reach will be relatively small. Start with those you know and become comfortable interacting with them, then cast a wider net.

• Don’t post anything that you would be embarrassed to see on the front page of your local paper – or the evening news. Keep it professional; be personable.

• Just try it! The best way to learn is by doing. Despite the “horror stories” you may sometimes hear, it’s really not that bad and can result in valuable connections and real, bottom-line impacts.


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