When arriving in Canada a few years back as a Baby Boomer and coming from a background that valued privacy and independence very highly, the concept of social media frightened the life out of me.
Back in the “old” days, while we obviously used every opportunity to promote our businesses and brands by every means possible, we kept out personal lives private. The thought of telling 1000’s of “friends” where we were having lunch, what we were eating, with whom and what they were talking about was as crazy an idea as walking on water. Sharing 8mm movies of cute cats was not practical. Long distance phone calls were horrendously expensive and tweeting was what birds did.
Unless we had a business angle to promote, a sporting triumph to share or a political agenda, most self-respecting adults would run a mile at the sight of a reporter, the sound of a microphone or the whirring of one of those huge TV cameras.
But times change, I decided that I needed to grasp this social media nettle firmly with both hands if I wanted to have any chance of starting a business and generating an income with no assets of any sort and no business or personal contacts in my new country. I dived in to twitter and Linked In initially and felt my way around a bit, I can remember agonising over my first few tweets. Wondering if people would think I was just an old fool, wondering how often to tweet, how big a trumpet to blow on my Linked In profile.
I got invited to join an increasing number of sites, some interesting, some a bit too whacky, some specialised. But I still resisted getting on to Facebook because I thought it was for kids, I thought I would lose the last shred of privacy that I was carefully guarding as soon as I signed up. I was also a bit worried that some of my old pals might find me and ruin my reputation.
Two years ago, I surrendered to the inevitable, I realised that trying to be active in social media without a Facebook presence was like trying to hunt elephants with a slingshot. Neither had much chance of success.
After a tentative start, I started enjoying myself, now I have several thousand twitter followers and a growing network of fans, friends and followers on a seemingly endless list of other sites.
Fortunately, along my journey of discovery in social media, I have collected some useful tools that make this social media experience much more enjoyable and manageable. I have put links to some good ones on my Peter Recommends page, I will add more as I find them, most are free, some have paid upgrades, I am an affiliate for 1 or 2 I think, but all of them I recommend because they are good not because I earn a commission from them.
Despite my trepidation at the start of my Facebook adventure, I have reaped many benefits. I have made contact with old school friends from 45 years ago, old friends from my previous countries now dispersed all over the world and new friends from many countries. None of this would have been possible without social media.
From a business angle, one recent event proved the value of Facebook. Last weekend an old friend from a previous life on another continent posted a link to this blog on his Facebook page. He has over 2500 Facebook friends, that one post gave me over 300 new visitors to this blog in the following two days and many new subscribers.
That is powerful and with no advertising cost.
Yes I am a convert, I believe that almost every business, every one who wants to further his or her career in practically any field has to become comfortable with social media. Am I still concerned over the privacy problem? Yes very much so, I have a strong distrust of big government and I am concerned that social media and the flood of new technology will be used to track and control us more closely in the years ahead. The huge opposition spread largely through social media to Sopa and Pipa yesterday is encouraging, but I believe there are still dangers ahead – that is the subject of a future post.
If you are a small business struggling to find time or find your way in social media, hop over to my other blog, Social Media Pete there are several posts there to help you, if you are stuck contact me.
Here are 2 tools that I find very useful, both are free.
- LastPass – a password vault to securely keep track of all your usernames and passwords
- Xeeme – a Social media hub. Send visitors to one site for your entire social media presence.
More ideas and useful links in the next post.
Wishing you success in all your endeavours.