The Journey Starts with the First Step

originally posted on Concept Hub

We’ve all heard the saying that a journey of 1,000 miles starts with the first step. The question, however, is in which direction? That is the question that oftentimes keeps people from making the first step or keeps them roaming around in circles.

In the past 3 years, I have seen a tremendous upswing in the social media learning curve happening within Metro Atlanta.

I have even seen more and more people start to explore social media, usually starting with Facebook or LinkedIn, and recently more and more blogs. What I am not seeing much of yet are organizations taking social media seriously enough to establish goals, milestones, and a direction. The result is several blogs that are abandoned, profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook that are not being used or being used inefficiently, and very little return on the investment in the time it takes to get involved with social media.

This all seems to be resulting in more confusion about how social media can benefit an organization.

As a means to walk you through creating a strategy, I would like to take a moment to review the logic behind the structure of our online training classes. Consider this a commercial break if you’d like, but I think it will help to put some things in perspective.

I. Introduction to Social Media (RSS, RSS Readers, and Tags)
This class is geared toward taking that first step. We review how the web has changed from a broadcast channel to a global interactive marketplace. More importantly, we review the tools that I call “the math equation you HAVE to know to go any further in social media” which are RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and Tags. The web is a chaotic place, to find content or to be found, we have to know what the new roadmaps look like, and they are being created with RSS feeds and tags.

II. Advanced Internet Syndication (optimizing your content)

The most heard resistance to social media that I hear is “I don’t have time.” This becomes obvious when I observe organizations creating profiles and blogs while still using outdated or redundant communication channels. In this course, we review how you can optimize your current communications for social media. This course tends to be very interactive and therefore different each time we run it. In the last session, we had a great conversation about how widgets may replace banner ads. From that, we came to the conclusion that it is more beneficial for a sponsor of an event or association to have a branded widget on the site than a simple banner ad. Other ideas that are generated include optimizing your press room, your email campaigns and making your current content go viral.

III.  Analyzing the Online Marketplace

This course addresses the question, “which direction?” I tell my students this is the course where I give away a bit of my secret sauce of what it is that I am offering many of my clients. When you are taking that first step on the journey into a global interactive marketplace, it may be wise to know who your potential friends are, what the rules of the game are and how not to get burned.

Notice that we have not even discussed blogging or a social network yet. The reason is because a good strategy should make your life easier, not more complex. First, you need to know what you are getting into. Second, you need to know how to restructure your current assets so that you are not simply adding more work to your life. Then you need to know how to be successful. Finally, you need to know how to play. Which leads to

IV.  Blogging 101 (How to start)

Once you have a solid knowledge of RSS and Tags, once you know the landscape, once you have restructured your current communication efforts in such a way that you know your reason for blogging, then you can blog.

From here the courses get more advanced in regards to participating in social media, building your network, adding value to your relevant communities,  and getting value in return.

The thing is, many of us have already figured out that social media is part of our lives and will more and more be part of how we do business. Many people are trying to take that first step on this journey that will most likely go much further than 1,000 miles. But just like with any journey, we need to make sure we are prepared, we know where we want to go, and we have the right tools to get us there.

Watch your step, and don’t wander around in circles.

Happy Trails…