I am a reluctant social media networker, and I had to be dragged kicking and screaming into social media.

What you do in social media depends on who your audience is, what your business model is, how much time you’re willing to commit, and how comfortable you are writing content. But the point of this post is not so much “social media” as it is “social media for those of us who wish we could avoid it.” In other words, I don’t care what I can do, as much as I care about what the minimum is that I really must do.

I knew it was important for me to jump into the social media fray, because not participating in popular social media outlets would only result in a conspicuous absence. That’s fine if your specialty is writing books with a quill on papyrus for technology-curmudgeons, but it’s not okay for those of us in high-tech marketing, communications, or much else in business today. So I took the social-media leap.

If you’re a not-so-social person like me, then social media might seem like a tough pill to swallow. Don’t worry, it’s not as chaotic as it looks. The most important thing you can do is to start with a plan, and then follow it. There are lots of sites and blogs that help you develop a plan for social media so I won’t belabor that point here.

Can I just hire a specialist?

If you’re a reluctant social networker, you don’t have the time or patience to engage online, or you don’t feel particularly motivated to add new content at least a few times a week, then hiring a professional might be a good investment for you. This person can help you devise a social media plan and even help you put the plan into action.
The pros of using a pro is they may be able to bring you greater exposure just because they are likely familiar with more outlets, not to mention all the arcane ins and outs of social media. They can not only help you get relevant content out there, but help you promote by cross-posting on blogs. However the con of using a professional is that the content they write will not be in your voice or from your position of expertise. Of course the more you work with the consultant, the better that content will be.

Consider going it alone if you’re comfortable writing new content, have a chunk of time to invest up-front, and have a little time available on an ongoing basis.

My social media plan

When I decided to take the social media plunge, I came up with the sketchiest of plans:

  • My goal was to position myself as a technical marketer who was “current” with the face of business and marketing today.
  • Since my business model is almost entirely B2B, I would avoid Facebook and the other consumer/friend sites and concentrate on keeping it professional (a la LinkedIn).
  • I wanted to build my presence immediately, so I would start with a Twitter account.
  • I wanted a blog, and to ensure a steady stream of content I would spend a few months accumulating articles before I launched.

After perhaps 15 hours total of upfront work, I spend only a few hours per week between Twitter, LinkedIn, and my blog. When I post to other people’s blogs, I refer to my own blog when it is appropriate, and I made it easy to find my blog from my main company website.

Could I do more to take advantage of all that social media promises? Sure I could, but I don’t want to. I have found a nice balance between social media extrovert and recluse. I’ve found a way to get my content out there, hopefully give good ideas to people, and yet keep my social media footprint nice and small.

The moral of the story

For many of us, not engaging in social media may result in a conspicuous absence and may even imply a lack of internet savvy. Don’t let the name “social media” scare you. Even if you’re not a social person, you can engage in a minimal amount of social media networking without it taking too much of your time and without requiring you to wander outside your social safety zone.

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