Were you wondering if Lance Armstrong and his girlfriend had their new baby? If you were following Lance on Twitter, the hugely popular social media website, you would have been among the first several thousands to know that Baby Max was born last week.
Lance Armstrong has a big presence on Twitter and you can have one too if you register for this site that allows you a 140 character message to your “peeps” to let them know what’s the haps with you. (That’s cool language for letting your friends know what you are up to, right this moment.)
Twitter, FaceBook -- which you may recognize from your children’s experience, and LinkedIn are the three largest social networking sites on the web. There are hundreds more, but for the purposes of a (hopefully) enlightening article, we will only discuss these three.
I was lucky enough to attend a presentation by writer Daniel Casciato on Online Social Media Resources directed to a group of home-based business operators. Dan’s talk was geared to the business opportunities these websites offer (88 % of marketers use social media to get their messages out), but the tips and info apply whether you are selling widgets or trying to find out what’s happening with your high school sweetheart.
Dan says he was once given the following explanation for Social Networking sites, which he likened to attending a party. While there, you move around the room, talking to people about your interests and theirs, where you grew up, what your sign is and so on, but you are not really closing the deal in these situations. This is a time to schmooze, to get to know people. Something more serous like job opportunities or networking possibilities may develop in the future but for now you are content with just chatting and laying a sort of social groundwork.
It’s a little complicated, but it gets easier as you go, like so many things on the Internet. To get started:
- Decide what your goals are for the social media sites you want to register for. If you just want to see the newest photos of your grandchildren being posted by your daughter, that’s fine. If you are looking for work, that may be fine too, but you have to be a little more circumspect.
- Then decide how much time you want to spend on this. Giving yourself a time limit is a good idea because these sites are definitely addictive. A good starting point is to spend 15 minutes or so in the morning updating your pages and comments.
- While on the sites, you can choose what groups you want to participate in. Maybe you want to learn more about ice road truckers in Alaska. Just join that specific group, if there is one, and you can follow along on the truckers’ adventures until you have some of your own.
A quick word about blogs, which are huge on the Internet. If you are involved in any type of business, having a website and/or a blog is de rigueur. Updating both on a regular basis is one of the necessities of life too, though, once you take the plunge. People who visit your site need to know they will be greeted with new information or opinions and not something you wrote way back in the dark ages of 2008.
I registered my website on FaceBook (type in www . facebook . com) a couple of weeks ago, anxious to see what all the buzz was about. I am not alone. FaceBook.com is the fourth most trafficked website in the world.
Since joining, I have been pretty quiet, staying on the down low, choosing to view what others are saying until I feel more comfortable joining in. It has been fascinating to see what people I know and like are talking about. I especially like to see the photo postings from one of my photography professors. It’s a great help to me to see what he is taking pictures of day-to-day.
Twitter is a communication tool which answers the question: What are you doing? in posts of 140 characters or less, not exactly wordy. (Whether anyone in the world is interested in what we are doing could be the subject of another column. But heck, we are Baby Boomers. We are interesting by nature!)
Twitter allows you to ask questions and get answers, too, on the site. For instance, I could post: “I am doing an article on recycling old tires. Anyone know any good sources I could contact either by email or phone?” Of course that may be way too long so I would have to cut it down but you get the point. Or you could ask for advice on a problem you are having, or for more information on something you are researching and so on.
Even if you don’t want to become active on Twitter, Dan suggests registering your name so that’s it’s not taken when you do want to get more involved. As one person said at the meeting, it won’t be long before employers will want -- and possibly require -- employees to be adept at this type of communication.
LinkedIn is a way to tell people about your skills, talents, services and products, and whatever else you would like to promote from your business life.
Dan provided the following tools to take advantage of LinkedIn:
- Once registered, create a LinkedIn poll or survey to stir up some interest in your company or services.
- Start your own group (Ice Road Truckers: Orlando) to increase your networking.
- Find other groups you have an interest in and post comments regularly. You could be viewed as an “expert” in the future when someone else needs your specific skills.
- Change your status frequently. (Note: Status is basically telling the other people on these sites what you are doing. It can be anything from “attending a seminar on Twitter” to “doing final edits for The Great American novel.”
- Respond to others’ Q and As, which again may lead to your becoming the go-to person for that subject.
- Always respond to anyone who writes to you (on any of the sites.) This will lead to more inquiries/comments/questions, which is all good since this is what you wanted in the first place, right?
Some sites of interest:
By Teresa K. Flatley