Tiger Woods is the best golfer in the world. Michael Phelps is the best swimmer in the world. Warren Buffett is the best investor in the world. What do these three have in common? They all seek out and pay for the best information, coaching and education they can afford. Tiger Woods and Michael Phelps both employ coaches. Warren Buffett has a staff of advisers.
Simply put – successful people invest in their own education. It is a fact of life.
I’ve seen education make the difference in my life many times. Regardless of the circumstance, my confidence and ability has swelled to any task when I knew I had a solid training or coaching to back it up.
Getting proper social media education is very important for your business career. Without knowing how to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, you are cutting yourself off from multiple business opportunities. Not learning how to use social media is foolish. Facebook has over 300 million users, Twitter is on pace to break 50 million and more people are watching YouTube videos than all four TV networks combined.
Obviously social media is a “trend” that is here to stay.
Remember in the mid 1990s when you were first learning how to use Microsoft Excel, Word and eMail? At the time everyone was figuring out how to manage and use these basic applications. We now take these tools for granted. If a potential employee came to your office and didn’t know how to use eMail – would you consider them for a position at your company?
Of course not. You would tell them to go get some… EDUCATION.
The same is true for social media. In the next two years, the business landscape will change. It will be assumed that you know how to use Twitter and Facebook. No longer will employers look the other way when you show deficiencies in these areas.
A Minute To Learn – A Lifetime To Master
There is a famous quote from the board game Othello. “A minute to learn – lifetime to master.” This is a great phrase for thinking about social media. Here’s my ten minute quick start of what you need to know.
There are only four actions you can do online.
1) Write text
2) Post or take photos
3) Post or stream audio
4) Post or stream video
Other than these four actions – you can’t do anything else online. You can’t perform surgery. You can’t drink a ice cold coke. You can’t travel anywhere. Everything you do online is based on one of these four actions.
Two things the web does very well
1. The Internet is a great learning tool
The internet is a good place to learn information. Teaching and learning are effective areas of online commerce.
2. The Internet is excellent for two-way communication
Skype, Vonage, and Google Chat are three simple applications that allow you to communicate over the internet. Twitter is a very “two-way” platform as is Facebook. The internet begs for conversation.
Notice I didn’t mention that the Internet is an awesome distribution platform. Distributing information is important – but that is secondary to the main thrust of what can be done online via communication. Old media (newspapers – radio – TV) is about distribution. Social media is about learning and communication.
The Core Of Social Media
Social media is about posting a bit of content (text – photo – audio – video) and then having others engage that content by leaving their own text, photos, audio or video. This can go on in real time, like Twitter and Ustream, or can be posted, like Flickr and Facebook.
What Your Business Should Be Doing On Social Media
You need content. Content is at the heart of social media. Your thoughts, ramblings, insights, observations, etc. Don’t just post promotional material. In fact, try to stay away from promotions as much as possible.
Begin to think about how to capture everything you do with text, photos, audio or video. Your mindset needs to shift into that of a journalist. You are now the chief journalist for your company. As you look around at the day to day operations, think about how to capture and contextualize the most interesting parts.
For example, let’s say you own a security company. Begin taking photos of buildings in your neighborhood that are vulnerable to break-ins. You can post these online and write a short description under each photo about why these buildings are at risk for a break in.
Your Next Steps
If you are brand new to social media, begin by commenting on other blogs. Start with businesses that you admire or partner with in your industry. As you make comments you will be gaining the skills you need to create your own content. After a while you’ll see how this social media thing works.
If you are a bit more advanced and have some presence on Facebook or Twitter, begin posting some specific content you know will be valuable or helpful to your audience. Even if you have a few people consuming your content, make it compelling and consistent.
We’ve covered the “minute to learn” part of social media. There is so much more “lifetime to master” parts for you to learn and understand about using social media in your business. On the surface, using social media starts with a very simple mindset. Always think in “content capture and creation” mode. That’s it really. Of course, getting more education and coaching is the key to accelerating the speed of implementation for your business.
My advice to you is to seek out training. Read some books. Attend some workshops. Get the knowledge you need to make social media a success for your business or nonprofit. We also offer a few resources to get your started at www.FolkMedia.org.
The world is changing fast and you need to keep pace. In two years potential employers and supervisors will expect you to know this stuff.
Joel Mark Witt is the Publisher of Folk Media and author of 21 Days To Twitter Leadership. He is a producer, author, and speaker who consults with businesses and nonprofits on how to use social media in marketing and communications. He is hosting a live all-day training in Baltimore on December 4, 2009 called Social Media 101. Get more from Joel on Twitter.