I started communicating online way back when the internet was just kicking off. During my senior years at school I used to spend hours on Internet Relay Chat (IRC), no doubt much to my parents dismay.
After leaving school, I got disconnected from the online world for quite a few years. When Facebook came along my love of online community was rekindled. I really enjoy connecting with old friends and like minded people, sharing information, experiences and usually a few giggles.
Blogging was a natural progression for me and I have been doing it for about 18 months. It was a huge learning curve but one thing that really took a long time to get my head was the wider world of social media.
Many of my friends and family think I spend my entire life glued to my iPhone or computer immersed in the land of social networking. Admittedly, I do spend a fair bit of time faffing around my fave online haunts but it may surprise them to realise I have quite a reserved approach to social media. Being a consummate procrastinator as I am, social media can be a dangerous distraction!
In case you are anything like me, I wanted to share a few things I’ve found helpful when navigating the online world. They may sound simple enough but they can save you a lot of time (I wish I had done many of them from the start!) :
1. Think about what you want to get out of your social media experience
Are you logging on just for fun and networking? Are you promoting a business or blog? Do you want to share your amazing photography skills with the world? Most importantly how much of your precious time do you want to spend maintaining your social media presence to achieve your goals.
2. Do your homework
There are SO MANY social networking channels out there. Probably many I haven’t even heard of. Do a little research and find out which ones align with your goals. Don’t be scared to talk to other bloggers or businesses to see what works for them.
It took me a while to realise this was even possible (I can be a little slow on the uptake) but many social media platforms have built in functionality to post to other applications, for example Instagram posts can be shared on Twitter and Facebook via the app itself. There are also multifunctional programs like TweetDeck and Hootsuite available to help save time when using social media.
4. Do what works for you
It can be really tempting to sign up to every social media platform you get an invite for or hear people refer too. But trust me, overload is a real danger! As I mentioned earlier, I’m easily distracted by bright shiny things and interesting links, getting swept away for hours on end. I found a rather helpful post on avoiding social media overload here.
My personal strategy has been to put my social media blinkers on and focus on the few networking tools I like and am familiar with. I only use 3 social media platforms regularly – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
I love Facebook because it has a real sense of community where I can share my posts, pictures and questions very easily through my blog fan page (or through my personal page) all via an app on my iPhone.
Similarly, I find Instagram a wonderful way of connecting and sharing through photographs. Even if I don’t always have time to read every blog post, I’ve gotten to know so many blogging friends much better by getting insight into their lives through the images they share on Instagram.
Twitter doesn’t really do much for me, I find it too random and fast-paced. I do, however, understand the value of having a presence on Twitter in respect to promoting my blog and likewise, I have come across some really interesting and entertaining posts there. I generally post on Twitter via Facebook or Instagram and do a quick scroll through occasionally. However I predominately rely on email notifications to alert me to any mentions or direct messages that I need to respond to.
5. Have fun!!
I think this is the absolute key to social media, especially if you are using it for…well, social reasons!!
Sometimes you can find yourself lost in the literal web the the internet and the world of social media weaves. I know if I’m starting to feel overwhelmed, stressed or anxious about anything that is happening in relation to social networking (or my blog) then I know I simply need to step back and revisit point #1.