Earlier this week I was interviewed for a magazine article about small businesses using Social Media to grow their business.  It won’t be a long article but I’m quite excited!  (Press!  Always a good thing!)

Anyway, I thought I’d blog about my thoughts on Social Media while some of them are fresh in my mind.

Before June 2008 (when I took the class about internet marketing) I was rather blog and social media resistant.  The blogs I had seen shared some pretty personal information (in my opinion) and I didn’t want to do that.  The circumstances of my son’s conception, inner thoughts on ex-husbands, spats with friends… I didn’t see how that would help me or my business without turning me into another “tabloid Tara Reed”.

But in the class they talked about how it all helps and reminded me of a very important point – I’m the one with the keyboard.  If information goes out on cyber-space (at least on my websites, blogs or other social media) it’s because I chose to type it.  I share what I want to share and keep private what I think should be private.

Sigh of relief.  Duh.  Makes sense.

So I chose to climb out of my comfort zone and give it a shot.  I signed up for Twitter not really knowing WHO I would talk to or WHAT I would say, only that I’d try it.  Ditto Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace.

Fast forward to October 2009 and now I’m hooked.  I also have some opinions about how and why to use Social Media.  I’ll share my thoughts and maybe they will help you get some clarity if you are hesitant like I was or some more ideas if you are already here.

Why I Joined Social Media Sites

I joined because someone said I should.   I joined to see what I could do in the internet marketing space. Connect with artists and share my experience in the art licensing industry.

I have connected with some amazing people.  Built a community of artists and non-artists I never would have gotten to know, albeit ‘cyberly’ and not in person in most cases.  Although I’ve met more than a few locally because of the internet as well.

How I See Social Media Helping My Business

Connections.  Relationships.  That is what business, friendships and community is about.  “Social Media” is just a way for technology to get involved.

Social Media has helped me spread the word about my products, Ask calls, coaching and more for artists wanting to learn about licensing.  It has helped my affiliates spread the word as well so I can ‘share the wealth’ with others.  (I do love paying affiliate commissions each month – truly!)

Social Media has given me a sense of belonging.  I have never worked in an office.  I’ve been a sales person in charge of an entire state and working from home.  I’ve been a stay-at-home mom… again, at home.  Now I’m an artist and business owner… guess where I work?  Yup.  Studio in my home.  I find Twitter to be like a virtual office.  If I need to connect with humans I have but to go online and chat with people in the virtual cubicles around me.  Awesome!

A little more detail about my feelings on each platform

Twitter – LOVE IT! Since June 2008 I’ve tweeted over 6,600 times  I have nearly 2,500 followers. I’ve made friends on Twitter.  Last winter when I took the Teleseminar Secrets class I connected with people on Twitter while listening to the calls.  When I went to the “reunion” in March I felt like I was at a high school reunion.  Even though I never met these people before you can really get to know them online.  Of course some were a little different than I expected but many were not.  How much fun is that?

Twitter has been a great resource for me to get answers to questions.  I have thrown out questions about software, resources, even “anyone know what font this is?” and 9 times out of 10 get help.  Of course you can’t join and have that work on day 1.  You have to build the connections first – hmm… kind of like in real life.  The friendly, social and helpful people often have a better network to turn to than those who don’t talk to anyone, right?  Same thing applies online.

Facebook – also LOVE IT. Facebook is a great mix of everything.  From the ability to connect with high school friends you’d never see without it to creating business fan pages to connect with your end user, Facebook has a bit of everything.

Now I may ruffle a few feathers with this next statement but I don’t believe in having your Twitter stream on Facebook.  Unless of course, you are rarely on Twitter and therefore missing out on its true potential.  You see, in my view, there is a different expectation on Facebook.  I can’t tell you how many people will complain about their friends who “just say such random stuff I could care less about and fill my feed!”  I reply, “I bet they twitter”. Twitter is about streaming – like texting.  Facebook is more of billboard – here’s my deal for now.  Of course there are comments and interaction but it’s different.  I tweet way to much to stream it on Facebook.

LinkedIn – still learning it. I haven’t figured out how to use LinkedIn as effectively as Twitter and Facebook.  I have connected with some people I used to work with when I was selling college textbooks – that was awesome!  I have made some connections for my current business too.  But I haven’t quite got my finger on how to really tap into it – stay tuned for an update when I do.

MySpace – sorry, I was over it pretty quickly. Once I started getting multiple emails from widowers and men who thought I had great eyes, was pretty and wished they lived in Portland, I got a creepy feeling.  It felt way too much like Match.com which I was thankful for for a while but am happy to not need now!  I think MySpace is for the younger crowd and have decided it isn’t a good fit for me.

Well this little ‘weighing in’ is getting a bit lengthy so I’ll stop there and do some more in-depth posts soon with more detail.  The article will be in the November issue of the Oregon Business Magazine – can’t wait to see what it has to say!  (of course my blog post is already double the article word count and I won’t be the only one offering opinions… that’s what I love about a blog.  I can be chatty when the mood strikes!)

Here’s to getting and staying connected!

– Tara