No public relations company nowadays would dare call itself a PR firm if it didn’t have a social media division. But the best part about social media is that it’s such a democratic space that there is absolutely no need to concede it to professionals. Literally anyone with a computer, an internet connection, and a basic understanding of human behaviour good give the biggest PR firms a run for their money, in social media. Just like ninja.
This is not to say that it’s easy, however. Like everything else, how good your social media kung-fu is depends on your commitment to the endeavour and your willingness to keep on learning new things. These, as far as I’m concerned, are the two fundamentals that every social media ninja needs to keep in mind.
The biggest mistake social media newbies make is believing that it is easy. Not their fault tho, because about 9 out of 10 “gurus” will have told them so. As Diana sarcastically asked Bruce, “and you’re the tenth?” No promises but, I’ll try to be.
Bottom line, becoming a social media ninja entails more than just setting up the super-basic trifecta of Facebook-Instagram-Twitter. Once you’ve got those accounts set up, you’re going to have to work to make them work. Take Twitter, for example.
Most people think that the best use for Twitter is to post links to long-form press releases or puff pieces and nothing much else. Nothing could be further from the truth. The best use for Twitter is to establish your brand – whether that refers to an organisation that you’re part of or yourself – as being a part of the broader online community you want to connect with.
Have you heard of the Rule of Thirds? The Rule basically says that one-third of the content you put should be devoted to your business concerns; one-third should be for sharing stories, ideas, and thoughts coming from others in your industry; and the last third should be about you and your personal brand. Hootsuite has a great article about that.
See what I did there?
Now if you’re going to put out that much content, then it follows that you’ve got to be committed to using the platform more frequently than once a day or something. More than just putting out propaganda, this rule means you’ve got to really dive into the internet and find things that are related to your field that you can share.
Why would you do that? You do that as a service to your reader, dumbkopf. You do that because it makes your site, account, or whatever, more useful to the reader and therefore more likely to turn them into regular readers or followers. If all they can read from you is about how awesome your organisation is, it isn’t gonna take long for them to lose interest.
Not just that, you’re also going to have to learn to open up about yourself. What does that do, you ask? You do it because people increasingly believe other people more than they believe big corporations or organisations. The currents of online conversations have shifted from the one-way flow of information from provider to user, to the sharing of experiences among peers. You share personal information so that people slowly come to see you as an authentic person, with an authentic life that they might be able to relate to. And if you are relatable, then you become more influential.
This is why making social media work for you takes commitment. You can’t just parachute into it whenever it suits you – you’ve got to spend time on it and nurture it, just like you would nurture your personal connections in the real world.
Willingness to Learn
One of the top 10 mistakes social media tenderfoots (tenderfeet?) make is convincing themselves they already know everything they need to know to succeed in social. No, you do not.
Social isn’t just Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. It’s also Tumblr, and YouTube and Vimeo, and blogs and comments sections and so much more. And each of these platforms have their own unique sweet spots that you, the aspiring social media ninja, need to master.
Heck, even with just the basic trifecta, there’s lots to learn to use properly and effectively. Sticking with our twitter example, there’s polls, gifs, video and so on. Just like a real life ninja is often described as a master of his environment, you must also be jedi with the social media tools available to you. To get to that point, be willing to become a padawan you must be. That means listening to others talk, reading what others write, and learning from them. I guarantee, it will be worth your time.
And never forget, the technology you use is far from static. It constantly evolves and, if you’re going to be on top of the game, you’re going to have to be very aware of the changes being rolled out so you can strategies how best to use them, how best to leverage them.
There you have it, the two fundamentals to social media ninjas never forget. If you can keep these two basic concepts always firmly in mind, you will have begun the process that inevitably will lead to your achieving ninja-hood.