What are social media tools?

toolboxSusan Murphy is a guest contributor to the HootSource blog.

So many social media tools, so little time. Sound familiar? It’s an issue many business owners face these days. You know you should be staying on top of all the new tools out there, but between doing client work, prospecting, and maybe once in awhile, having a life, it’s next to impossible.

The thing is, you know how important social networks can be to developing your business. Personally, my company has acquired several clients through relationships we’ve built on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Social media works as a lead generation tool – but it takes time, and effort.

So where is the best place to get started? Here are a few ideas that might help you choose.

What’s Your Goal?

As with most things you do for your business, you have to start by figuring out your goal. What do you hope to achieve with social media? More sales? More prospects? More employees? A combination of these? Get focused on what you really want to do with social media, and it will make deciding where to start much easier. Also, really think about what kind of value you want to add to the communities you become involved with online.

facebook funConsider what stories you want to tell, and how you’re going to tell them (maybe a blog, or videos, or a podcast?). Think about the kinds of people you’d like to meet, and the conversations you want to have. If you’re clear on these things from the outset, then you’ll be able to jump in already having some things to talk about!

Just Pick One

Every week, a new social media tool pops up, or the existing ones change. It’s hard to keep up! But the good news is, it’s not imperative that you keep up. What’s important is that you just pick one tool and try it for a while. For a lot of people, they naturally migrate to Facebook, because that’s the tool they are already most familiar with on a personal level. For you, it might be making the leap into Twitter. For someone else, it could be Google+, or photo sharing on Flickr.

Whatever the tool, just pick one, set up an account, then start experimenting. But remember, starting on a social network is like starting a new exercise regime – you can’t just do it once and give up. You have to keep at it, in order to start seeing results. I suggest trying a new tool for a little while every day for 30 days. If, after that time, you don’t like it, you can give it up and try something else.

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Apple hires Angela Ahrendts' confidant & former Nike exec to lead social media ..  — 9 to 5 Mac
I think paying money for social media tracking tools is nuts.

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