Starting out with social media by Rebecca Sloan

There’s a whole world of people out there who are interested in what you have to say. Or at least, there could be, if you have something worthwhile to say and start saying it online. Online Journalism blogger, Paul Bradshaw, is an excellent example of how an individuals’ personal reputation can develop successfully online and spill out into the ‘real’ world.

Paul started blogging seriously about social media six years ago. Through his blog he’s grown his personal reputation, becoming known both online and offline as an expert in social media. In fact, his efforts have become so well known nationally, and even internationally, that in 2009 he was named Birmingham’s 36th most powerful person. It’s a real testament to the power of social media.

So how does one get started? Like any message, it’s important that you give consideration to what you’re trying to say, to what purpose and for what audience. The key is to be targeted in your approach. To listen and respond appropriately and to communicate, not sell.

You may find that defining a vision, mission and values (VMV) will help you or your organisation clarify who you and what you stand for. In our experience, a VMV statement is a very powerful tool which helps to lay strong foundations for long term success.

Think of your VMV statement as a reflection of who you are now and who you want to be in the future. You may find it useful to speak to other people you interact with closely too get their opinion on how your VMV can best be defined to suit your cause.

To get you started, think of your vision as your overall goal – it’s a map to a destination. A mission is a unifying statement of what you or your organisation is in business to do – it defines your purpose. Your values are the beliefs and expression of what you stand for and how you conduct yourself.

You’ll find your VMV will also help you define your audience. For example, if your vision is to be the best carpet supplier in the United Kingdom, your message might be targeted towards carpet makers, carpet purchasers, retail outlets individual consumers, authorities in carpet regulation, etc. You’ve now identified the key audiences you should be communicating with.

Next, use your mission and your values to guard what it is you say in those communications. They’ll help you better understand the ways in which you, as an individual or organisation, should conduct itself in every interaction you have.

Once you have these, you’re well on your way to being able to post effective messages online. And remember, even Paul Bradshaw started out inconspicuously online with that first single blog.

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