Back in the 1990s, Intel CEO Andy Grove had a famous slogan: “Only the paranoid survive.” He meant that companies (and people) had to constantly be ready to change, quickly, and adapt-or get crushed.
I had a lot of respect for Grove (I worked for Intel in the 1990s), but that thinking doesn’t work when it comes to social media. I’ve never met a successful paranoid blogger (someone who was scared to blog, but did anyway).
Yet, truth is many people are outright scared to blog or participate in social media activities. You can’t blame them. Their boss might frown on it. They may not be good writers. They may have little time.
It all adds up to a fear of social media.
The good news is anyone can get over the fear of social media with a little practice. It’s sort of like public speaking-once you learn you a few techniques, and practice enough, the fears start melting away.
Below is a good starting tip sheet (this can apply to first time bloggers, or social media and marketing managers working with new bloggers).
- Listen first: Spend a week or two carefully reading industry blogs in your area. Get a feel for their topics and tone, and think about how you would write about the subject. You can follow your favorite blogs through tools like Google Reader or iGoogle, or a platform like Alltop.
- Start small: You don’t start off speaking in Carnegie Hall-you start with a small group. Similarly, start small by commenting on an industry blog you’re familiar with. Pick a noncontroversial subject and try to “extend” the conversation with some additional thoughts (“Nice piece.. One other angle to consider is…”)
- Work with an editor: Editors can help you sort through ideas and develop a sharp angle and/or get started on that dreaded first paragraph. If you don’ t have an editor, find an experienced blogger to brainstorm your ideas.
- Get educated: Check out online courses on everything from blogging to Twitter strategies, or get 1:1 coaching or training if your budget allows- group training is cool too (you’ll learn from your colleagues). We’ve trained several hundred bloggers from big high-tech companies, and almost every participant is ready to start blogging, tweeting or tackling Facebook or another channel by the time they’re finished. Think of it like Toastmasters for new bloggers.
- Get even more educated: You can check out top business blogs to get a feel for different corporate and writing styles, but also explore other strong blogs in your industry. What makes them interesting, engaging? For social media strategies and techniques, my favorite sites include MarketingProfs, CopyBlogger, ProBlogger, Convince & Convert, Social Media Examiner, Conversation Agent, and of course, Social Media Explorer (all of these include content strategy and marketing posts).
- Get out of the office: Attend a local social media event. You’ll get to rub shoulders with people who really believe in social media, and you may learn some new strategies and techniques.
- Communicate: If you’re expecting resistance, meet with your manager, PR groups and/or lawyers, and work out social media agreements. Make them part of the early decision making process if you’re (social media managers) developing a governance model and broader program. A great tip I heard at the IABC/PRSA conference this week in Portland: bring the bosses and lawyers to a social media conference so they can get a real taste of social media-and a heavy dose of why it works, ROI, and new strategies.
One last tip-often new bloggers get hung up on the writing. Try this: develop an argument, write three supporting points in bullet form. Then a conclusion. Example: Businesses must do more to encourage work/life balance. Supporting point #1: employees are more productive when they’re able to take care of their families #2: It’s good for the business (ex: recruiting new employees) #3 People will do whatever it takes anyhow to care for their families. Throw in one or two corporate examples and quick summary. Set it aside and polish it later, focusing on the writing this time. You’re done.
It’s not rocket science, but it does take some effort. Like the fear of public speaking–or any fear– it only goes away when you tackle it head on.