Why Social Media is like Teen Sex

10May10

Avinash Kaushik of Google once tweeted, “Social Media is like teen sex. Everyone wants to do it. Nobody knows how.”

If I remember correctly, I lost my virginity to social media in 2004. A university sophomore at the time, I joined a social networking site called Friendster. I was reluctant at first to have a public profile online, but a lot of my friends were on it and, like most people my age, I didn’t want to be out of the loop. So I created my profile, added my picture, entered in some personal information, and started getting hundreds of friend requests.

Almost immediately after being de-virginized by Friendster, I joined site after site – from MySpace to Multiply, from Flickr to YouTube, and so on and so forth. After a few years of juggling so many social media accounts, after endless hours in total spent on maintaining my networks and trying to dodge cyberspace creeps, I finally felt stupid and violated. Like a natural defense mechanism, my brain deliberately “forgot” my passwords for some accounts. And for the rest, I deleted them. I wanted my virginity back!

Social Media is like teen sex. So before you decide to do it, read up on my 5 tips:

1. Research.

Know what it is before you dive into it. There are so many social media tools out there, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, YouTube, StumbleUpon, Foursquare, etc. Whether it’s for personal or business purposes, you need to know what tools are out there, which ones are best for your company, and how to use them properly.

2. Set Goals.

Decide what you want to achieve with these tools. For individuals for example, do you want to connect with your current friends (in which case Facebook would be a good option)? Or do you want to make new connections with people who share the same interests (in which case Twitter would be a better option)?

For businesses, do you want to promote your products/services, perhaps through a Facebook page? Or do you want to gain customer insight by engaging your followers on Twitter? Or do you want to create sales leads through LinkedIn connections? Or do you want to establish yourself as an expert in your industry through a blog?

3. Just do it.

Whether it’s sex or social media, it doesn’t matter how much you read about it. You can only prepare yourself so much. You only really learn how to do it if you just do it. So go do it!

4. Practice Safe Social Media.

For individuals, be cautious about your privacy settings. You do not want current or potential employers to see pictures of you doing 12 tequila shots in a row. Better yet, don’t post pictures of you doing 12 tequila shots in a row. It would be hard for people to take you seriously during your next big presentation if they have that mental picture of you. Make your social media tools present you in the best way possible.

For businesses, keep your online brand presence professional. There is no need to announce on your facebook page how Katy from the Accounting Department finally let loose during your office Christmas party. Again, make your social media tools present your company in the best way possible. Sometimes, you cannot prevent people from posting angry complaints on your facebook page. Feel free to take those comments off your wall and deal with the issue directly with said customer. Sometimes, you may want to keep those negatives comment on, and follow it with a response on how your company dealt with (or plans to deal with) the problem. This could help build trust and loyalty.

5. Measure.

Always measure, measure, measure! Measure how well your social media sphere is doing. Are you achieving your goals? How much traffic are your social media profiles bringing to your website? How many connections, friends, fans or followers do you have, and how fast is this network growing? How much engagement is happening in your network (eg. wall comments, discussions, @replies and retweets)? What is the brand impact (eg. awareness and reputation, what are they saying about your brand?) What is the revenue impact (eg. quantity and quality of sales leads)?

Six years later, I still use social media – but I limit myself only to a few tools that I know are best for me. This time around, I am more informed on the benefits and pitfalls involved. So I now love it! More blog posts to come. Enjoy for now!

xox,

Meowgarita

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