Have you ever noticed that some people make things so much more complicated then they need to be? That’s how I feel when I listen in on many social media presentations. In reality, the concept of social media is simple.

My definition of social media– Networks that bring individuals together based on common interests or connections. These networks allow interaction between members.

Pretty simple, right?  So, by definition, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and even Ebay are social media.

Now comes the hard part- how to use social media for business.  Here are some basic things to keep in mind:

  1. Have professional marketing materials/ images. This includes headshots, logos and messaging.
  2. Understand and apply basic networking etiquette. Do you like it when you meet someone and they immediately try to hard sell you?  Well, don’t do it on social networks.
  3. Treat social networks like “real life”, but with thousands of people watching your every move. Would you badmouth one client to another client on a Jumbo Tron?
  4. Know where you belong. This requires that you understand what sites are for before you join.  Not sure?  Use Wikipedia.  If you are a middle aged man selling life insurance, you probably know that you should not join a Girl Scout Brownie Troop for networking.  At the same time, you do not belong on MySpace.
  5. When in doubt, hire a professional. Use a professional firm for strategy or to hook up networks and do really cool techie things.  Trying to become a social media expert takes time away from your business and makes about as much sense as going to law school to save money on attorney’s fees for your company.  Take ownership of your social media by following through on expert advise.

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