Back to basics: How to keep social media from making you crazy

Remembering the basic principles behind social media
Remembering the basic principles behind social media

When social media feels overwhelming, go back to basic principles

[Starr says: Here’s another guest post from Erika Kerekes, who heads up social media solutions at Deluxe Corporation.]

One of the most common complaints I hear from small business owners about social media is that it’s overwhelming. So many networks. So many experts telling them what they should do, have to do, can’t avoid doing. The technology and the rules change all the time. New social apps and sites popping up every day.

How can anyone hope to keep up with social media and still run a business?

If this sounds familiar, don’t worry. Even those of us who focus on social media for a living feel that way sometimes. In fact, I got the idea for this post from one of Starr’s own Facebook status updates. We all have our moments.

When panic hits, I breathe deeply and go back to basic principles. These simple rules help me cut through my mental clutter and find my social media mojo every time.

  • It’s not about technology. Ignore the whizbang stuff and concentrate on the conversation. If you’re spending your social media time having meaningful, interesting interactions with relevant, interesting people, you’re on the right path.
  • You don’t have to be first in line. Some people love being “in the know” and can’t wait to play with every new toy and gadget on the social media shelf. Others get anxious at the thought of exploring new tools and social networks. If that’s you, don’t feel like you have to try everything the day or week it’s released. Read the reviews. Listen to what the social media pundits are saying. A lot of today’s new stuff will be gone tomorrow, and you don’t want to waste time or energy on the losers. Wait until you see something getting traction. By that point there will be lots of online tutorials and tip sheets to help you up the learning curve.
  • Commenting counts. Sometimes your well runs dry. You can’t muster up another blog post. You’ve run out of photos to post on your Facebook page. When that happens, hang back for a few days and do nothing but comment on and share other people’s social media activity. Commenting is the best way to make real relationships and expand your network, yet most of us in social media (guilty!) do far too little of it. Do unto others, friends, and you may be surprised how quickly you see positive results.
  • Real life comes first. You’ve got 10 minutes between meetings. Should you schedule a few tweets or check in on a client? Update your Facebook page or walk down the hall to ask a colleague a question? When I have a choice, I always go for the live interaction. We all get plenty of screen time these days. It’s human-to-human bonding time that’s at a premium. (And yes, I am the mean mom who won’t let her kids bring their mobile phones to the dinner table.)
  • There’s always someone willing to help. Whatever social media question you have, whatever problem you’re up against, there’s someone waiting out there who knows the answer and is ready to help. There are loads of free resources (articles, webinars, blogs) and many qualified experts for hire. If you need social media as part of your marketing plan – and who doesn’t these days? – one way or another you’ll get it done.

What keeps you focused on your social media goals? Share your mantra in the comments.

Erika Kerekes heads social media solutions at Deluxe Corporation. She spends her days helping small business owners up the social media learning curve and her evenings blogging obsessively about food at In Erika’s Kitchen.

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