Social Media 101


February 2, 2010

Several weeks ago, I wrote a post called ‘How to Simplify Your Social Media Life.’  When I wrote that post, it was with the assumption that if people were reading my blog, they probably have at least a minimal level of comfort using social media.  Since then, I have had many people reach out to me privately who really don’t feel that comfortable.  They have asked for some tips to getting started with their own social media plan.  This post is for them.

I’ve created a social media 101 plan for several people and it seems to be working.  In a very short time, they are already progressing and feeling more comfortable than they anticipated they would in a short few weeks.  That is a good sign.  What that tells me is that if an individual is open to spending even 5- 10 minutes a day on social media, they will be able to manage learning this medium in a short amount of time.

Here are some steps I recommend if you have virtually no experience in social media.  These tips apply regardless if you’re planning to become more knowledgeable in a specific industry, a hobby, a sport, your local community, or whatever you plan to use social media for.  While I’m not claiming to be an expert, I do think having simple goals will make learning more achievable.

The most important point is….Keep It Simple.

Week One

Start small.  Ask colleagues, friends, or family who use social media to recommend ONE blog you can follow.  Try to find a blog that covers your topic of interest, one that posts daily or every other day, and one that you find appealing.  For example, for friends and colleagues who are in HR, I always recommend starting with Fistful of Talent.  I do this because they meet the criteria I mention above AND they have multiple authors.  This enables the individual to read many viewpoints on the topic of interest.  So, step one is find a collaborative blog to follow.

Commit to 5- 10 minutes each morning to check that one blog.  Hopefully they are posting frequently.  If not, find another blog to follow that is posting regularly.

Week Two

So, now you’ve been reading a blog for a whole week.  Hopefully you are starting to get a feel for the content.  You may even have agreed or disagreed with a post or two.  This week, your task is to write a comment on a post on that blog. As all serious bloggers know, the most valuable thing we get back from spending time researching and writing is the connection we get from the people who read what we post.  Your comment doesn’t have to be long, just a heartfelt expression of how a post makes you feel.  Even a simple “thank you” or “great post” is a good start to get you comfortable with giving feedback to the blogger.

Week Three

Now you’re getting more comfortable. Find two more blogs to add to your morning reading routine. Make a point to comment at least once on each blog this week.  Again, the length of the comment is not the point.  Giving feedback is.

Week Four

Now you’re ready to branch out.  Sign up for a Twitter account. Use the “search” feature to search for a topic that interests you.  Now, follow some of the people that the search provides.  There is no need to feel like you have to “tweet” (ie. share information by posting).  Just lurk.  Watch.  See how the conversations develop.  Begin to find people that you think are interesting.  If they link to an article, click through to the article.  It may lead you to another blog you would like to follow.

Week Five

By this time, you have given yourself an opportunity to see if you like using social media and if it has value for you.  If not, no harm done.  If it does hold value, consider adding a Google Reader to manage some of the blogs you are now following.  If you’ve signed up for Twitter and been lurking, try tweeting back to some of the people you’re following.

Check out my post of How to Simplify Your Social Media Life for more information on Google Reader.

Let me know if this plan works for you.  Or, let me know what I’ve missed in the comments.


  • Great plan – I know many people who have gone through your social media 101 class, including myself! Great post to share with others.

  • Please tell me you had this post waiting in your queue and didn’t just whip it up after your first day at a new job! 🙂

    Seriously, nice post and nonthreatening approach. I’m going to forward it on to some of our leadership.

  • I’m going to post this to my local SHRM chapter. These people TALK about social media all the time, but seem to DO nothing about it. Maybe this will help them.

    I’m with Krista – did you just come home from your first day at a new job and whip this up? My hero.

    • @Shennee, Jenny, and Chris- Thanks for the comments ladies!

      @Krista- Ok, you made me laugh. I did have it as a draft but it was just a list of words and phrases (ie. simple, no reader, one blog, comment). That was what I started with last night once kiddos were in bed. SO, yes I whipped it up after my first day on the job. : ) Thank you for sharing it. I have a few people who have used it and so far, they usually like this approach so much they get anxious to move ahead of schedule.

      @Joan- HUGE thanks for sharing with your SHRM chapter. You and Krista made my day!

      @ben- Like the stages you mention and thank you for sharing your reader tutorial. By sharing what works for us, others can see it really is not hard, they just need a plan. Thanks for adding to the discussion my friend.

  • Great advice to approach this in bite sizes! – many individuals and companies feel overwhelmed at the prospect of engaging social media – which tools/platforms should they choose etc. The key is to begin witht the end in mind and have a strategy on who you want to engage with – and what you want to achieve from it. It’s also vital that you think through beforehand exactly how you will engage with your target audiences to make your offering compelling and interesting. What value are you adding? -and always remeber that content is King! Thanks for the opportunity to comment on this great post.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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