I’m a social media newbie. I’m not an expert, I’m not a guru, I’m not a leading authority. I wouldn’t even say I’m a blogger.
Having been a publicist (and often getting sidetracked with my own entrepreneurial ventures) for more than 18 years, last year I launched PR in Your Pajamas with the goal of helping entrepreneurs get the kind of publicity in newspapers and magazines usually reserved for corporate clients who can afford hefty retainers.
In other words, helping small biz clients get publicity in what you would call “traditional” or “offline” media. Very quickly, I got immersed in social media, which I consider to be an extension of “online PR”.
Writing blog posts here and there, creating podcasts, dipping my toes in social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Linked In, not really too serious about it at all as I tried to juggle the needs and challenges of three companies, with two young kids afoot and living in two countries just to make life more interesting.
A little over a year later and I’m scratching my head wondering why it took me so long to jump fully into social media. After all, if it weren’t for social media and marketing online:
• I would be limited to growing my network and business in just the two cities or countries I live in. It’s kind of cool when I see customers on my site from Australia to South Africa. (I’d love to have said Zambia or Zimbabwe but I haven’t gotten that far down the alphabet yet.)
• I wouldn’t have remembered how much I love to learn. Although I have a team, I learned the basics of HTML (who knew I had an inner geek in me?), SEO, direct response copywriting, affiliate marketing, email marketing and how to get myself to the top of LinkedIn searches for my keywords (thanks my buddy, LinkedIn superstar Lewis Howes). Every day was like a new adventure.
• I wouldn’t have a virtual water cooler. Although I love the flexibility of being a pajama entrepreneur, sometimes it can be lonely working virtually without an office to go to. Engaging on Twitter gives me a way to have a break with my friends, be inspired to do great work by @boxofcrayons, be cheered on by my informal mom ‘support’ group and oh, build my business at the same time. There was one instance where engaging in conversation with Silicon Valley venture capitalist and founder of Alltop.com @guykawasaki landed me a client that engaged our consulting services for several thousand dollars. (Thanks Guy!)
• I used to think Facebook was a waste of time, but it has helped me stay in touch with my “in-real-life” friends. I’ve lived in 4 different countries and it’s much easier to see what my friends are up to when most of us are in front of a computer all day or live halfway around the world. I’d rather have a few minutes to say hello online than none at all.
• I would be limiting my opportunities. When you’re constantly exposed to thought leaders and killer ideas, it does rub off on you. My creativity is at an all-time peak. As I interact with role models like @andreajlee @alexisneely and @sharonhayes who are generous enough to share their expertise with me, I’m constantly connecting the dots and getting clearer on my vision and direction.
• And yes, social media has brought an additional source of revenue for my educational products. After just a few months learning from friends I made on social networking sites, I was able to create and launch products that already added five figures to my bottom line last year. It’s made me re-think my PR agency and coaching company, which has revenue based on the consulting and time-for-dollars model. Watch this space for how that will evolve…
Don’t get me wrong. If you think you’ll just put up a blog or get on Twitter and make five or six figures this year, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Yes it’s possible AND it takes work and giving back to your community first.
But if you’re a business owner interested in building long-term relationships (and isn’t that what business is all about?), it’s never too late to learn something new. You can either start today as a newbie, or wait till next year…and still be a newbie when you start.
They say you teach what you want to learn. And I’m happy to share with you what I’ve learned about social media and what I’ll continue to learn from my peers and mentors.
So, I’m not a social media guru, I’m not an expert, but you can certainly call me an evangelist.
Elena is founder of a technology PR agency that works with startups to billion-dollar companies. She is passionate about helping marketers and small business owners with practical publicity strategies.
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