In response to the concerns about privacy, ethics and whether it’s a worthwhile practice-building tool, for now I am simply going to say that all these concerns can easily be overcome if you understand the mediums and how to use them. I’m not going to go into the reasons why I think this, because that’s not what this article is about.
As for the other concerns, rest easy. I understand. It’s perfectly normal to get overwhelmed by the complexity of social media and the learning that is involved. However, there are things you can do to manage your overwhelm. I’ve described 5 of them below:
1. Remember that anything can be overwhelming at first.
When learning something new it’s common to feel overwhelmed. Your brain can only handle so much at a time. As you dive into the social media world and you find yourself becoming overloaded, take a break. You won’t be able to learn everything about how to use the platforms effectively right away. It’s going to take a while. So pace yourself and be satisfied with learning a few things at a time. You will begin to feel more confident as you become more experienced and your overwhelm will then slowly melt away.
2. You need to connect with more than a few people in order to experience the real value of social media.
You won’t “get” the point of social media if you only engage with a small number of people. With Facebook and Twitter for example, you will have to “friend”, “like” or “follow” a substantial number of people/pages before you start to see their value. Otherwise, these platforms won’t be very interesting for you and it will be difficult to make meaningful connections with enough people for it to have an impact on your practice.
3. Use Social Media Management Tools
There are numerous tools available that help you manage your social media accounts. You can use these to organize your tweets and posts as well as the people/pages you are following. While there is a learning curve to using these tools as well, if you invest the time it takes to learn them you will save heaps of time in the long term. They will also help ensure that you don’t miss the information that is most interesting to you. With tools such as HootSuite (my favourite), you can organize people into lists based on your interests, how well you know them, geographic location, etc.
4. Don’t Try to Keep Up… It’s Impossible!
Once you have connected to hundreds, and maybe thousands of people, you won’t be able to read everything posted. Don’t even try! Instead, tune into your social media channels periodically, scan your newsfeed (in Facebook) or your stream (in Twitter) and see what catches your eye. Read some of the articles posted, comment on, “retweet” or “like” a few posts, share some information that will be useful to your target market, and let everything else “float” by. Think of these mediums as being like a newspaper or magazine that you subscribe to. You scan the headlines of each issue and then read what interests you or what you have time for. The rest has to wait until later, or won’t be read at all.
5. Have Realistic Expectations
Any marketing strategy won’t bring you results immediately. Social media is not going to magically fill your practice any more than other marketing methods will. You have to use it strategically and consistently over time before you’ll likely notice any business coming your way through these channels. I can’t emphasize this enough. However, once you have been using social media effectively over a period of time, “magical” things do happen.
For example, I have met so many cool people through social media. Some of these have become clients or signed up for my programs. Others have become strategic partners or mentors that I learn from. Still others are people who simply entertain me. The world of social media has become a magical place that inspires and delights me, in addition to enhancing my business.
Social media is increasingly taking over the web. This is a fact you can’t afford to ignore. While I don’t think it’s essential that you have a social media presence at this point in order to maintain a full practice, this is likely going to change in the not too distant future. Things are evolving very fast. You never want to be the last person to adapt to a changing culture when it comes to sustaining a business — because it often comes at a cost.
As I have said before: Don’t Be a Dinosaur!
With that said, I encourage you to overcome your overwhelm and if you haven’t already, join me in the social media sphere sooner rather than later.
Here are 2 things you can do to connect with me to learn more about social media and how to manage it:
1. “Like” my Facebook page.
2. Follow me on Twitter.
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