The really great things in life are neither free nor easy.
Think about the best relationships in your life. Didn’t they take time to nurture and grow? Undoubtedly there were hiccups on the way and obstacles to ov ercome. Yet the beauty of the relationship kept you going, pressing through the problems until one day, like the Sarah Groves song states, “life with you is half as bad and twice as good.”
How about the skills you have developed- either through a formal college education or the real-life training. Did you achieve mastery in your subject matter or skill set in a week, a month or even a year? No, because skills and knowledge take time to learn, to practice and to become proficient in. It is the same with building your social media influence. Building your social media influence in like cooking a roast over several hours, even overnight, in a slow cooker. It is not searing salmon for 2 minutes for a stir fry. We want to stir fry our social media, cooking it up to a large following with rich conversations, feedback and profits. But it doesn’t work like that. Businesses, the good ones, the ones that last, develop over time with a strong foundation.
The Foundation of a Slow Cooker, Solid Foundation
Social media is all about relationships. It’s not about selling something or pushing an agenda. People and businesses do that through social media, but it’s not why social media was started or what sustains it today. In addition, people who use it simply to push their own products and message typically fizzle out or lose their following.
Because the web is about people, it is essential to add value to others with your own valuable set of skills and knowledge. There are three key concepts that will help you develop a strong base as a social media mover and shaker in your sphere of influence.
1. Slow cooker crock pot meals do not come together in a single hour. They take several hours to cook and simmer. Likewise, social media is not an overnight sensation. It takes time to develop your platform and figure out where you fit the best.
It takes time to learn how to use and master the social mediums you are using. Twitter takes time to learn and use effectively. It takes time to create a Facebook page that is interesting enough for more than your friends to follow! Time is needed to figure what social media sites fit with you as a person and as a business. When I first started dabbling in the realm of social media I wasn’t sure where I wanted to start. I started with the most popular sites but I checked out other sites too. Slowly, my learning curve got better. I figured out where I wanted to be. More importantly, I figured out where I did not want to be! The same will be true with you. In fact, you will be a much more effective social media user if you take the time to immerse yourself in multiple social media outlets and figure out which is the best fit for you. This concept is so important I want to say it again- You will hold a stronger influence in your niche when you take the time to immerse yourself in different social media outlets and decide which ones are the best for you. We can’t do it all. Ultimately, for you to be effective on the web you need to pick what feels most like you and go for it. And that will take some time.
2. Just like identifying what kind of meat and spices you throw into your slow cooker, you need to have a specific voice when working online. This will become more apparent the more time you spend on the web. Not only will you develop your own voice but you start to catch the “voices” of other people. You identify the quackers. “Quacker” is the term I use to call people who say anything and everything but do not have a focus or anything valuable to offer. Their focus is unclear and they seem to try to get the attention of anyone they can.
Ultimately, they are the people we end up ignoring or “unfollowing” (if you are a Twitter user!) Life is too full to take in more junk! We don’t want junk in our inboxes, our physical mail boxes or life in general. Take a clue from the quackers- say something of value and be yourself! Don’t be smarter than you are or try to perpetuate a personality that isn’t really you. People can spot a faker a mile away.
3. Embrace the time concept. It takes time for people to find you. It takes time for you to find them. I remember when I first started exploring the online maze. I almost gave up before I started. I couldn’t connect with people are even know who to follow, listen to or respond to. But the more I interacted with people online, listening to what they were saying and adding in value-filled content, the easier it was to find who I had been looking for. In addition, I became more fluent in social media language.
As you and I progress through the social media jungle, we discover our goals change. That’s o.k. – accept it as a sign that you are growing as a person and business as you identify what you do and don’t want to do. Not all of us want to be hugely known in social media. We may find some outlets that are of great use to us and stick with those, choosing to divert the rest of our valuable time to other business building activities. Whatever you do, I hope you give social media chance. There is a learning curve to every skill and moving to the social media groove is no exception. Pay attention to what you like. Develop your own voice and be yourself. Give other people valuable information and helpful advice with the skills you have. Generous people receive generosity from others. Don’t be an information Scrooge!
And have fun with it. After all, to be in business is to enjoy being around people. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and other sites are simply another outreach of communicating and growing in niche communities. Just like the slow cooker produces an ideal hot, flavorful meal after simmering for several hours, your online presence will begin to produce relationships once it boils for a season of time!
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