With the advent of social media, there has been a lot of chatter about its usefulness as well as many raised eyebrows regarding its benefits. A lot of people are still left wondering, how and why social media is even important and relevant to what they do. Most people who are skeptical about joining the bandwagon want to first know what the ROI will be for investing their time in social media. Is it even worth the time or is it better left to the teenyboppers who pride themselves on updating their social status by the minute!?
I believe social media has something to offer everybody; it depends on how and to what extent you use it. It’s not a one-size-fits-all glove, but really depends on what you make of it and how willing you are to venture into it in the first place.
My personal ROI for investing in social media over the past several months has been very apparent. The most apparent return is that it has led me to a contract job opportunity at SAS. Here’s how social media helped me achieve that.
My initial escapades with social media started at a curiosity level, while I experimented with it on a trial and error basis. The truth is, I’m still exploring, as I still do not know or totally understand the full impact of these social media platforms.
I started with what made me comfortable: I created a LinkedIn profile and filled out my background and skill sets. I also made it a point to upload a professional photo. I figured people register things better when they associate a visual against any data. I started building connections and strengthened my network online. This took a considerable amount of time, as I’d spend hours trying to research people and companies I admired and wanted to connect with.
I made it a point to customize my LinkedIn invite, which typically included a very short introduction, what I have in common with the contact, and why I would like to connect with them. I think it was this approach that gave me a better response rate in building new connections. I always tried to keep my end goal in mind, in this case it was building a stronger and richer network of people that I could emulate and learn from in my field of interest.
Once I was comfortable with LinkedIn, I created a Twitter handle. I uploaded a similar photo and shared a brief bio that allowed people to get a glimpse of my personality. Twitter, like most social engaging platforms can be a tricky one to wrap your head around. What can you possibly say in 140 characters or less that would interest others? As a relatively less formal site, it allows people to engage and interact on a casual and personal level. You start seeing glimpses of people’s personalities through their tweets. Again, I always tried to be cognizant of why I was interacting on Twitter. For me, it was a place to meet interesting people in the field of marketing and social media as well as interact with those who are seen and respected as thought leaders.
Twitter gave me the opportunity to follow these people, read what they tweeted about and even engage in those conversations with no strings attached! Twitter, like most social sites is merely a tool created for us to use at our own discretion. Garbage in is garbage out! If you wish to have fruitful and productive conversations, the onus lies on you to follow the right people you’d like to have real and interesting conversations with. Tune out the mindless chatter by creating lists of people you’d like to follow and focus on those.
Beware, though: What may have started as a 10-minute activity can easily turn into a couple of hours online spent toggling between a dozen or more tabs open on your monitor. So always keep track of time and make a hard stop using a timer (if need be) so you don’t go overboard with it. Time management is key here. Brief focused bursts of engagement online on a daily basis helps keep your profile active onscreen.
I tried to mix the old with the new methods of networking. While these tech-savvy social platforms helped give me the initial leverage to connect, I followed through with the old-fashioned way of meeting and greeting over coffee or with an informational meeting. This always helped make the interactions more human aside from our virtual connections. I’m grateful for these opportunities that social media platforms created for me allowing me to make new connections, while preserving old ones, and strengthening my online brand presence through each of these platforms.
While your goals may vary ranging from brand awareness, networking, relationship building, or strengthening customer connections, all it takes is an open mindset, adventurous spirit and the willingness to invest a small portion of your day on these sites, and the ROI can be huge in the long run.
What has been your experience using social media, how has it helped you?