10 handy tips for social media virgins

I’ve been thinking a bit about the resources I’ve used over the past year to help me set up Facebook pages, blogs, YouTube channels and Flickr accounts for both myself and for my work. I’ve been thinking about this in the context of passing the useful bits on to others who are just starting out. I really have picked it all up from scratch. I’ve found lots of great information online and had some brilliant advice from some very kind people so it would be nice to be able to pass that on. That’s why I’m writing this post and that’s why I’m getting involved with Edinbuzz and their social media surgeries.

So here’s my list of handy hints that might help you out if you’re just starting out or even if you’ve been tinkering in social media for a while:

Google – I know this is stating the obvious but Google is THE best tool you can have when you’re starting out. Everything you are trying out has probably been done before and us social media types are nothing if not social so we do like to share. The number of times I’ve got stuck and typed what I’m trying to do into Google and come up with a really helpful blog post or video…..well its more than I can count on my fingers and toes!

Twitter Lists – You have to be on Twitter. The amount of useful information that is shared on Twitter is massive but Twitter is a little intimidating when you start out – I mean who do you follow? This is why I find Twitter lists so handy, once you’ve tracked down a few people who you find useful to follow in your sector or area of interest, check out their lists to see who they are following. (And if you’re interested in social media for non-profits and want to keep up with what us Scots are up to check out the #begoodbesocial twitter list.)

JohnHaydon.com – John is the go to man for any Facebook knowledge you need to mine. His site is bursting with useful info be it in the form of posts or his super useful videos. I can’t begin to tell you the number of things I’ve learned to do from John’s site, I read his blog regularly and am always learning new things.

W3schools.com – anyone who has set up a Facebook page will tell you that its very flexible especially if you use the Static FBML application, but, if you’re not a techie type, it can be difficult to make use of as you do need a little knowledge of FBML which is basically Facebook’s version of HTML (the code that makes websites look the way they do). I am not a techie type, I’ve never studied IT, when I was at school the computer lab used BBC Acorns! I came across W3schools and used it to teach myself a little HTML coding. It’s really easy to use and you can use it to learn the basics and give you enough knowledge to make decent use of Static FBML and create some nice tabs for your Facebook page.

Netvibes – When you are just starting out in social media it can be difficult to wade through all the information. Sometimes the hardest part is listening to what people are saying about your organisation. I used netvibes to set up a listening post using their dashboard technology. It aggregates all the information about my organisation or sector in one easy to monitor place. The dashboards use handy little widgets which you can drag and drop into various pages to capture the information you would like to keep an eye on.

Free webinars – There are some great sites out there offering free webinars for non-profits, among then NonprofitWebinars.com and NetworkforGood among them and I’ve taken part in fantastic webinars from both of them on varying topics. Wild Apricot have a blog post every month which lists free webinars coming up for that month which is very handy. Most of these webinars use GoToWebinar which is fantastic technology allowing you to view the slides, hear the talk and ask questions in the chat box. All the webinars I’ve taken part in have been hosted in the US so it’s really exciting and a testament to this great technology that it doesn’t matter where you’re based you can join in. And yes I am a geek!

chrisbrogan.com – ok so the man is like the godfather of blogging and yeh he blogs a lot. I don’t read his blog every day but I do keep an eye out because it’s full of gems of information. Chris’s enthusiasm is kind of infectious as well and I like to read his blog not only to get some great social media tips but because he makes me smile and you can’t beat that!

The LAC Project – without having come across these guys I would not have begun my journey in social media…..and yeh I know that sounds lame but it is nonetheless true. They do some madcap and inspirational stuff and always have wise words to share. Check out RiseOftheCubicleFarmer.com, follow them on Twitter and say hi.These guys are the dictionary definition of the good guys!

My final two tips are common sense – get a google account and use google reader to keep up with all the blogs you want to read by subscribing to their RSS feeds. It keeps everything in one place and makes it a whole lot easier to manage your reading.

And finally…read Mashable!

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