Making Sense of Social Media Platform Choices

For those new to social media, the choices can be daunting. How do you choose among so many alternatives? This article summarizes my answer to that question.

First the bottom line, then some explanation.

  • Top priorities:
    • Facebook, blog/website, email, Twitter, Amazon
  • Secondary:
    • YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, podcasts, Goodreads, Google+

Please keep in mind that these are generic recommendations – your priorities may differ.

So let’s sort through some of the rationale behind these recommendations.

First, as Mark Schaefer points out, you need a stream of strong rich content that can come from your blog, podcasts, or video. Unless you are particularly photogenic and charismatic (video), or have an excellent speaking voice and a bent for talking for long periods of time without making mistakes (podcast), my recommendation is a blog on your own website.

Once you have a platform for your rich content, you need to get it broadly distributed (“ignition” as Mark would say). If you already have a strong email list, that is the most effective means, because people who agree to allow you to send them emails are more likely to have a stronger connection to you than Facebook fans or Twitter followers.

But how do you get those email addresses in the first place? That’s where Facebook and Twitter come in. Specific exceptions may be if you have particularly visual content (Pinterest) or are targeting business customers (LinkedIn) or a young audience (Instagram). Otherwise I think Facebook and Twitter are top, with Facebook the more important of the two.

Twitter tends to get bashed, but there are many people there who you want to connect with. As a company they’ve struggled, but a large part of that is because for a long time their company valuation was over-inflated and their expense stream could not be supported by the modest revenue model that is more realistic.

Amazon is there because they are the largest distribution channel for books, and because it doesn’t take much for you to establish your author page there. Low maintenance after that.

Goodreads is included because of the serious readers there. Google+ because the posts you make there are more likely to show highly in Google search results.

Again, your results may vary; however the above recommendations are based on my work with a series of different authors and businesses.

The 3 Core Elements of Personal Branding

Everything you say online—and everything you don’t say—contributes to the story about you that plays in people’s heads. While everyone has a personal brand, not everybody has a Heroic Brand that can put content sharing on auto-pilot. And Chris Brogan has a Heroic Brand. Here’s the connection between his powerful online persona and content ignition, in his own words:

 

“Some people share content just because they believe in you and what you stand for. I believe there are three core elements of personal branding, at least for me, and they are very intertwined and related. “First, I’m exactly who I am no matter if you talk with me online, offline, in the lobby of a hotel, or before/during/after my time on stage. I think that an integrated (and true to life) persona is vital. People can no longer get away with being someone they’re not. It just doesn’t work. At least not for long.

“Second, I believe that connecting with others and serving them is one of the most important parts of personal branding. That’s a mistake most people make. Your brand isn’t exactly about you. It’s about how others experience you. So I work hard to connect, to respond, to be available, and to show people I’m just like them for the most part.

“Finally, personal branding and connecting with people is about making information portable enough that others can make it their own. I say two or three things over and over: Give your ideas handles (meaning, make it easy for others to take the ideas with them). Everything I do is steal-enabled (as much as I dislike plagiarism, I love when people take my ideas and run with them—with a little credit). Brevity and simplicity are gold (most often, people try to convolute their ideas to make them seem more important than they are). To be simple is to be more open and honest.”

 

– from “The Content Code” by Mark Schaefer

Get in Touch With Your Creativity

As you get in touch with your creative gifts, you will, as matter of course, get in touch with every facet of your being. A particular poem will call up memories of your past, or a painting will bloom once you engage a fuller range of emotions. A character in your novel or play will finally open up when you delve into that character’s sexual identity or spiritual beliefs-and in delving into those things you will touch your own sexuality and spirituality.

So prepare yourself for full-life engagement. You can embrace this work and never be bored again. Or you can resist it and suffer one of two fates: you yourself will become numb and boring, or you will exist in that nerve-jangling tension of never quite saying yes or no.

– from “The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life” by Vinita Hampton Wright Loyola Press

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