If your last bike had training wheels, would you buy this one to get back into the hobby?
That would be silly, right? And yet how often do you hear:
- “I need a blog–I’ll hire a consultant to build me a WordPress theme from scratch!”
- “I hear we should be tweeting–let’s get a marketing company to custom design our Twitter account.”
- “Everyone is on Facebook–let’s pay $1200 to have a social media guru build us a Facebook fan page!*
Here’s a radical concept–step away from your credit card, at least for the moment.
This is not to say you should never spend money on social media, but if you are just getting started, today is not that day.
Why? Because for social media to work for you must first:
- be a good listener
- participate in conversations rather than hold press conferences
- provide value beyond access to what you are selling
Since these are not technical problems, technical solutions won’t fix them. Do you know what will help? Practice. So as long as you are in this mode, you might as well stick with basic, (mostly) free tools.
First, download Amber Naslund’s e-book Social Media Starter Kit–part 1: the tools. The book won’t tell you everything you need to know about social media (there is no kit for that). It will help you decide which tools are right for you and how to get started with them.
Everything Sonia Simone has ever written will help you move your marketing focus toward starting conversations and building strong relationships– but that’s a whole lot of reading, so start with this: Relationship Marketing or Social Media?
Overwhelmed? Chris Brogan has another useful post about how to prioritize the time you spend on your social media efforts, and Amber Naslund wrote a whole series.
This final resource isn’t free, but if you need advice more tightly focused on using social media to change the world, it might be right for you. It’s called “The Unconventional Guide to the Social Web” and is written by Gwen Bell and Chris Guillebeau.
Once you get on your feet, I’d love to connect with you–leave a link to your blog, twitter name, or other internet hangout in the comments and I’ll come visit.
*Thanks to Chris Johnson for mentioning a situation like this one on twitter. That comment was the inspiration for this post.