New Year’s Resolutions for the New Social Media Explorers

originally posted on Concept Hub

Over the past few years social media has become as much part of our lives as the Internet itself. Because of increasing bandwidth, interactivity, and the mobility of the web, we can expect that our online social networks will become as much a part of our lives as our offline communities.

Many people, for various reasons, are just starting to realize that there is an online revolution going on. Here are 10 New Year’s resolutions that a new social media explorer can make to ease their way into this new world.

10. Join a relevant network. Start small. My recommendation is start with either LinkedIn or Plaxo Pulse. Both sites are based on who you know and then adds a social component that virtually puts you in an online networking event.

9. Sign up for an RSS reader. I personally find Bloglines the most user friendly reader. However, don’t just start plugging in feeds to your reader. Learn more about the features that are offered. For example in my Bloglines I have my feeds organized in folders. Some folders I check daily, others when I am working on a specific project and others when I am in the mood for casual reading. By having your selected content come to you as opposed to you visiting or searching for content you will save several weeks of time over the next year.

8. Start saving some links to a social bookmarking site. Del.icio.us is still my overall favorite social media site. Not only does del.icio.us allow you to organize your content with various tags, or within various categories, you can also access your content from any computer, and you can find other relevant content by searching through and subscribing to accounts within the del.icio.us community. You can also send content to your network easily without cluttering up their Inbox. Just start. Start by saving content you are really interested in and then explore.

7. Sign up for StumbleUpon. StumbleUpon gives us an insight to the future of search engines. Customized searches based on selected preferences and algorithms as well as preferences of your social network. This all gives new meaning to web surfing, especially when you surf on the video mode.

6. Make yourself known. If you are not ready to blog, no problem. Comment on a few blogs. You know you have an opinion about what you read. Now even your mainstream media outlets give you the opportunity to voice your opinion.

5. Learn about the security settings on social media sites. Many people have been hesitant about joining online networks because they like to keep their private life – private. No problem. Every single social networking site I have explored has various degrees of privacy settings. Instead of staying away from the party, decide on what you feel you need your personal space to be and see how social networking sites can accommodate you.

4. Ask questions. Whether you are going on vacation or buying a new product, you can get all kinds of insights by going onto a forum and posting a question. The credibility of the responses will be varied, but that is what makes it so interesting. At the end of the day, purchasing decisions will always be yours to make, but you will be making such decisions with a lot more insight than what a sales person would provide you.

3. Watch kids play. If you want to know what the world will be like in the next few years, watch the kids. Everything from interactive online games to mass instant messaging such as twitter, to virtual environments will be a part of their lives that they will expect to bring in the workforce. It is no longer wise to assume we will be assimilating the youth to the workforce. The world has accelerated in such a way that we need to be able to adapt to the way the youth play.

2. Let go of what is no longer efficient. Before you send that email answering the same question to the fifteenth person, ask if a blog that addresses FAQ’s might be more efficient. Before you update the training manual AGAIN this year, consider what a wiki might do for your department. Before going to Google to begin your research, consider searching through del.icio.us and find out what others felt was good enough information to be saved.

1. Have fun. The most asked question I hear is how do I find time to keep up with all of the changes and to learn all the tools. Well we should always make time to have fun. The great thing about social media is there are sites and tools for just about everything. Whether you are interested in sports or knitting you can leverage social media to learn more and connect with others of like minds. Fuel your passion this year and do so while increasing your social media IQ.