With the quick development of this relatively new field, I don’t know how many social media experts are… in general. Certainly there are many people that know much more than I do on this topic. Yet, in my e-book and presentations about social media I approach this topic from a coaching perspective and through the lenses of my own experience with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress (blog) and other websites that I use for myself or for my business growth.

These are questions asked by the participants in my workshops and presentations about social media:

Q: I understand what I could get by using social media, but where can I find time for it? I’m already very busy!

A: You don’t have to “find” time, because you have the same amount of time like anyone else. Your priorities might be different. Being present on social media websites doesn’t mean that you have to be there 24 hours … every day. You manage your time according to your goals and priorities. If you consider that social media is important for your career or business, you’ll find time for it. And it’s fun and convenient too; you can use it in breaks or wherever you want to disconnect with the real world (evening, for example). It’s up to you how you manage your time and how much you get involved with social media (and which one to spend more time with). Interesting enough, you don’t even know what you can get from it, until you get onboard. 😉

Q: You can become addicted, what can you do?

A: It’s a learning curve anyway. I’ve been there too, when I’ve started with Twitter. Than, it comes a time when you realize that it affects the other areas of your life more than you want, and you start paying more attention to how much time you spend on social media. It depends on what you’re looking for, also. For a marketing specialist, for example, social media is a great “tool”! It might not be the same for the owner of a small shop in the neighbourhood. This doesn’t mean that the small business owner cannot benefit from social media: it makes his store more visible, he can keep his potential clients informed about new promotions, sales, get ideas from other similar businesses, etc. For a coaching business or any service provider, social media is a must… in my opinion. Coaching, for example, is a profession that relies so much on the coach’s personality, his ability to help people and to build trust… all are intangible. Social media gives the coach an opportunity to share his thoughts, to increase his visibility, to meet new people, to built that trust in time, to lean new things and get new ideas, etc. It’s also a “window” to share how his business is evolving. Again: we are in charge with our time, and how much we spend on social media.

BTW: Do you consider the time spent on social media an expense or an investment in yourself/ your business? Depending on how you use it (not only how much), it could be one or the other.

Q: It’s easy for you, you’re an engineer! What can I do? I don’t know how to use those websites or how to set up my profile.

A: It’s not my engineering background that helps me with social media, it’s my curiosity! I didn’t know anything about social media when I started. Since I’m a curious person I start exploring the different social media websites. When I didn’t understand, I searched on Internet for more help, attend presentations, read a book about Twitter, or used social media to find answers about social media! I knew that, if I want to use social media, I have to learn how to use it. Most of the social media websites are user friendly, meaning it’s easy to set-up a profile if you follow their instructions. What’s not so easy: to understand how such simple features could help you and your business (if you have one). And here, the curiosity kicks in again. 😉

You can also get someone to set-up your profile, but you still have to learn how to use it. If you have a small business, I highly encourage that you learn how to use social media yourself. Your business is a pretty accurate reflection of who you are as a person (personality, business behaviour), and this is the most important factor in social media. People know how to read between the lines. For example: writing only messages that promote your business might put people away and not read your messages anymore. They might think that’s all you want (their money), that you’re not interested in what they want, their opinion or suggestions. They’re also “sick” of so much promotion everywhere!

Q: Which one is the best for me? Where should I start?

A: As in anything else, it depends on what you’re looking for and your own style. The social media websites are relatively different in terms of functionality, features, users, strategy, etc. Search on Internet articles that compare different social media, to get a first idea. Then start with the one that suits your needs. When you become familiar with it… you can add another one… and another one… It’s still up to you how many you want to use and for what purpose. I continue to learn social media strategies from people that are successful with social media. For me, Twitter is like a university, I learn a lot from the articles listed by different users. Others are using Twitter to interact with people. LinkedIn is more for professionals and business, while Twitter and Facebook could be use for personal, professional and business purpose.  There are even websites that help manage your profile on more social media websites in the same time (like http://hootsuite.com).

Q: Social media doesn’t work for me. I have profiles everywhere, but nobody contacts me.

A: Social media is like real life. Just because you meet people at networking events, for example, and give them your contact info, doesn’t mean that they will contact you. In social media is the same: in order to get people to interact with you, you have to interact with them. In real life, we choose with what people we want to stay in touch (based on our preferences). Same in social media, others will want to connect with you based on your presence on social media (if they like it!).

It takes time, and patience to get results with social media. It depends also what results you are expecting. If you expect to increase the sales in a week or a month, or expect people to give you a job just because you have a LinkedIn profile… you might be disappointed. If you show your expertise, share your thoughts and ideas with people, and communicate with them… they will notice and respond too. It always surprise me what I get by using social media, and it might be very different from what other people get from it.

Be creative and curious, and you’ll find your way to success … using social media!

Gabriela Casineanu

www.quantumlifecoach.ca

Social media… from a coaching perspective
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