Monday, June 24, 2013

Social Media: The Basics Part 1

Last week, I attended a special lunch presentation on Social Media for Financial Advisors. It was presented by a speaker from Legg Mason Global Asset Management. Even if you're not a financial advisor, the tips I learned from the presentation may help you develop a better understanding of social media and how to use personally and professionally. 

There are three main ways that people use social networking sites: 

  • Make connections (examples include Facebook and LinkedIn)
  • Use and create content (an example are blogs such as this one)
  • Seek or share opinions (examples include Facebook, Google+ and Twitter)
There are three types of social networks:
  • Personal networks are primarily intended for socializing with friends and acquaintances, but do have business applications, particularly the promotion of products and services to potential buyers.
  • Open networks are intended for general communications between any group of participants and do not skew toward any particular demographic.
  • Professional networks are primarily intended to help businesspeople contact other businesspeople about jobs and industry trends, serving much the same function as online versions of industry associations and trade groups. 
Thanks to Facebook and LinkedIn, I have been able to reconnect with childhood friends (Facebook) and re-establish connections with former colleagues at work (LinkedIn). I enjoy using and creating content by blogging. Blogging also gives me the ability to provide more in-depth commentary about what's on my mind. I'm not limited to the 140-character limit on Twitter. Increasingly, I rely less on email and communicate far more frequently via Facebook by posting activity updates, and by sharing interesting articles I find on the Internet. Because of all the pages I belong to, often I find interesting articles on Facebook and Twitter, which I like to share with my friends and sometimes, the general public.  

One of the challenges of social media is setting boundaries between the professional and the personal. Another challenge is figuring out how "open" you want to be. For example, I use LinkedIn primarily for professional networking. Occasionally, I will post interesting articles in my LinkedIn page, but I screen each article to make sure it's more professional than personal. 

I regard Twitter more as an open network which is open to any and all users. This is where I retweet interesting articles I find  on a diverse range of topics -- social media, blogging, freelancing, finance, careers, behavioral economics, psychology, copywriting, neuroscience, and marketing. Anyone can subscribe to my Twitter lists and follow the same people I do.  

Facebook is my personal network. I use it primarily for socializing with friends and acquaintances. Since not all of my friends are on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter, I try to post interesting articles on each of these sites.  

I have a few friends who do not believe in the value of social media. I think they're missing the boat. Social media is immensely flexible and enables users to accomplish a wide range of useful tasks, such as:
  • Promoting your skills and your business
  • Reconnecting and staying in touch with people that might otherwise drop out of your life because of lack of time, changes in residence, etc.
  • Expressing your personal views and values
  • Gathering useful feedback from people with similar and dissimilar attitudes
  • Enabling organizations to foster dialogue
  • Disseminating discussion materials to encourage participants to exchange ideas
  • Reaching out to people with similar values to raise awareness of charitable causes
  • Highlighting news and ideas that could have a positive impact on your community and the world
Here are some of the myths vs. realities:

Myth: Social networking is only for young people. 
Reality: It's for adults of all ages. Although teenagers and young adults were the first to embrace social networking, it's now a mainstream activity for adults of all ages. 

Myth: Social networking is too time-consuming.
Reality: It's more efficient than traditional networking. For the most part, social networking sites are very easy to use. These sites also have very detailed "Help" sections and in some cases, tutorials to help you build your profile, search for contacts and set up groups, etc.  

Myth: Social networking isn't exclusive enough to be worthwhile. 
Reality: It's a good way to meet affluent prospects. Affluent and high-net-worth individuals are active in social networking sites. The search function within these sites make it possible to zero in on qualified prospects. In addition, most sites have privacy settings that allow you to control who can contact you.

Here are some of the leading social media sites:

Facebook

facebook.com
Connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them as well as faraway.

Twitter

twitter.com
Offers the ability to connect to friends, experts, celebrities and news outlets for timely updates and insights. 

LinkedIn

linkedin.com
The world's largest professional network designed exclusively for business use.

You Tube

youtube.com
This Web site offers the ability to discover, watch and share original videos.

Instagram

instagram.com
A photo-sharing site.

Foursquare

foursquare.com
Designed to help users find great places and make the most of your visits.

Pinterest

pinterest.com
Content sharing service that allows members to "pin" images, videos and other objects to their individual pinboard.

Google Plus

plus.google.com
Service that allows you to connect with friends, acquaintances, thought leaders and news outlets.

Flickr

flickr.com
Online photo management and sharing site.

Tumblr

Tumblr.com
Blogging site that allows users to post and share text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos.

Source: Understanding Social Media and Staying Safe Online, Legg Mason Global Asset Management

Did you know that many people now rely on social media rather than email for day-to-day communications? Because I work long hours as a Financial Advisor for Morgan Stanley, I keep in touch with most of my friends through my personal blog and Facebook. One of the reasons why I love social media is because it's gives me the ability to easily exchange ideas, information and documents. For example, I posted some of the documents I created at previous jobs on my personal Web site at www.valeriealee.com. Thanks to Facebook and LinkedIn, I've reconnected with old friends and met new people who have enhanced my personal and professional life. 

Social media is my passion and I've done a lot of research in this area. Today, I'll provide some tips I learned about blogging. Next month, I'll cover Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. 

Blogs play a key role in educating people about your ideas and what matters to you. They can also be a powerful marketing asset if you stick to topics people find interesting and compelling. Make sure that your blog content is relevant to the audience you're trying to target. A blog is a great way to add a human touch and it encourages you to constantly update your content marketing mix. Ideally, you want to post updates at least once a week. Blogs increase your SEO (search engine optimization) by adding pages to your site and encouraging inbound links. If you provide the right kind of content, your blog can also give other sites a reason to link to you, increasing the number of inbound links and boosting your search engine rankings. 

Next week, I'll provide tips on using Facebook. Stay tuned! 

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