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Getting started on social media is a lot like kindergarten. At first you don’t know anyone, but then you find someone who likes to color outside the lines, too. You go out to the playground and find someone else who likes to climb up the slide the wrong way just like you. Pretty soon you’ve built friendships with an entire room full of kids that will last a lifetime. And you all started out as strangers.

Whether your objective is networking, brand exposure, or to ramp up company sales, social media marketing works much the same way. If you’re new to social media, this guide to social media for beginners will quickly show you that it all begins with making new friends.

Think of yourself as a kindergarten student. Making a new friend is like gaining a new follower. And crayons, slides, and playgrounds represent different social networks – various opportunities to connect and befriend someone who shares your interests.

If you’re not sure which social networks you should try first, I suggest you create accounts on the main platforms below and over time see which ones click with you.

Before you commit to any username, visit

  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • WordPress

and attempt to select a consistent username across each platform. Sometimes this isn’t possible, but it’s worth the effort to try to come up with something that is short and easily identifiable to your audience. Once you have created your accounts, be sure to upload a nice profile picture and write a short bio that lets people know what they have in common with you.

It's easy to get sidetracked on social media so get this checklist to stay on track! Click To Tweet

It’s easy to get sidetracked once you get online, so I’ve made a daily checklist for the platforms I’ve listed above. Commit to an hour or two each day at least five days a week for a month and you will get a tremendous return on your invested time. In other words, you’ll find yourself making new friends and building an actual following.

Pro Tip: Consistency is key! It’s tough to make new friends in kindergarten if you only show up to class one day a week.

Checklist

Facebook

  • Find and like 5 pages a day
  • Comment on 2 pages a day
  • Post 2 things a day related to your product or service
  • Tag people or pages when appropriate

Google +

  • Add 5 new people a day to your circles
  • Share 2 posts a day using content from others or your own original content
  • Join 2 communities each week
  • Use hashtags as you would on Twitter and Instagram
  • Leave a comment each day on a post made by someone in one of your circles

LinkedIn

  • Connect with 5 people a day
  • Follow 1 new company a day
  • Follow 3 leaders in your industry a week
  • Join 2 groups a week

Twitter

  • Follow 50 new people a day
  • Tweet 2 times a day on something related to your product or industry
  • Tweet 1 time a day on something fun or inspirational
  • Add hashtags that are relevant to your tweet
  • Find 2 tweets a day that you feel are worthy of retweeting
  • Go through your notifications list and thank everyone that has retweeted or mentioned you
    • Do this by either favoriting or replying to their tweets

Instagram

  • Post 2 photos a day
  • Follow 20 new people a day
  • Like 30 of your followers’ photos a day
  • Use appropriate hashtags in all posts

WordPress

  • Write 1 blog post a week related to your industry
  • Look for 2 new blogs a week to bookmark and follow
  • Reach out to community bloggers and comment on blogs you enjoy
  • Once you’ve posted to your blog, share as appropriate on all your social networks
  • Connect with the bloggers you follow on social media

As you are building your friendships and business relationships, watch for people that are responding to you, and be sure to respond to them. This is imperative. Imagine walking up to someone at work and asking him or her a question. He or she looks at you then walks away. Yikes! It’s also important to watch for opportunities to join a conversation if you feel you have something interesting to offer.

While I generally advocate the *80/20 rule, when you are first learning how to build a following, I feel you can be flexible with this until you get a feel for each platform. If you are trying the old fashioned hard sell, always pitching your wares and asking people for something, you’ll lose before you get started.

The bottom line is simple – take an interest in others first before you can expect others to take an interest in you!

If you follow the recommendations in this guide to social media for beginners, you will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly your social media footprint will grow.

Time to Play!

What are you waiting for? Print out this checklist and start socializing! I guarantee you, you won’t need that checklist for long. Tuning in to your new networks and engaging with other users will become second nature in no time. And as you make new friends and attract new followers, so too does the exposure for your brand.

* Standard Disclaimer — 80 percent of what you post should adhere to your strategy, while the other 20 percent should be having fun and letting your personality shine through. As with any marketing campaign, don’t start posting until you’re clear on your objectives and make sure every post is true to those objectives.

 

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