This post, from Yvonne Perry, originally appeared on her Online Promotion Made Easy blog on 8/17/09.
Getting started on social media can often be deceptively simple – What’s the big deal? You sign up. – or intimidating – Why am I being asked for my date of birth? – or overwhelming – How do I find people to friend or follow?
The truth is that this is a world of official and unofficial rules. It is easier if you start out knowing what’s what, and this is probably especially important if you’re more of an introvert.
Let’s imagine you already use email, search for information on Google, and read blog posts. But you’ve never joined any social media sites. How do you start?
1. Decide how comfortable you are sharing information about yourself. And the corollary to this – how wide a sharing of this information are you willing to do.
If you’re a book author and want people to buy your book, it’s a good idea to decide that you will share personal (although not private) information to as wide an audience as possible. If you only want to connect online with former high school friends, your target audience is much smaller.
If sharing information makes you somewhat nervous, think about what it means to be personal as opposed to private. Personal is a good marketing book you just read that you can recommend to help others; private is a fight you had with your business partner over implementing the marketing steps recommended in the book.
2. Ask online savvy friends which popular site they would recommend you start with based on your goal. (And do start with just one while getting your feet wet in this brave new world.)
• If your goal, for example, is to have a wide audience, then Twitter may be the best choice because of its "open to everyone" format.
• If you only want to search for high school friends, then Facebook may be the best choice as you can confine your information to a very small circle and can search by name for those long-long friends.
• If you want to make connections to help with a future job search, then LinkedIn, whose format is set up for such a process, may be the best choice for you.