I am at a writing retreat this weekend at the beautiful and spiritual Scarritt-Bennett Center in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee. As the brochure says, this small campus was designed in "Collegiate Gothic" style back in 1963. It immediately scratched my nostalgia itch because it reminds me of 1991 when I enrolled for a summer session at University College in Oxford, England. Add a river, Rob Lowe and a bad soundtrack and you've got "Oxford Blues."Yes, I wrote that to have an excuse to embed this:
As mentioned, I'm on a retreat attempting to feed my other passion, writing. There's a small group of us here, and we have become a close-knit group fast. During one of our conversations the first day, the topic of understanding the social web came up, which can be a completely overwhelming subject for an individual or very small business who simply want to get the message out about their book, product or service. I began to give tips and make suggestions here and there. Before long, I was asked to give a casual presentation the next day at lunch.
As I scratched my notes on my yellow legal pad, I realized that before I tell these people to have multiple profiles on this or that site, or who to follow and why, that there are some important first steps these new friends of mine should make.They need to know who they are and what they want to present to the people of the interwebs. I forget sometimes that not everyone is as ravenous about keeping up with social media as Taylor and I are. Though, if there's anyone out there aside from Chris Brogan who can really keep up, please give me two of whatever it is you're taking.
Here are the basic of the Basics you need to know before hopping on the Social Web wagon:
Know Your Brand
1. Who are you?
Are you the brand? Are you the owner? Are you going to be the friend, the sales guy, the expert, or all of these people? Know your limits, know your potential. This is an evolutionary image, so don't think it isn't malleable once you learn the ropes. But FYI -- you are the brand whether you want to be or not. You represent the cause, the product, the service. You're not just the gatekeeper. You will be people's first impression of your company.
2. What is your service or product that you want to share or sell?
-- Are you trying to sell just this one book, or are you trying to build an audience who trusts you, so that you can sell many books?
3. How do you want to present yourself?
-- An addendum to the first point -- will you be only business, or will you be less formal and casual in tone, pictures and personality? Knowing your brand image will help set this tone.
4. Know what social platforms are right for you before you sign up for all of them willy-nilly (that's a scientific term).
-- Look if you're not selling a music product Myspace may not be right for you. It's one of those look before you leap scenarios, which you should be doing with all social networks. In as much as you can, know them before you join them. The best way is to join, but do the research.
5. Be aware that ALL your social profiles will define you whether you intend for them to or not.
-- If LinkedIn is your professional profile, and you think for one minute that potential customers or employers won't search your Facebook profile, you're wrong. In today's day and age, they all matter. They can either work together or work against you.
These tips are not the only place to start, but a good place to start. In my next post I'll touch on how to start sharing on the social web.