I have partners that absolutely do not share in my passion for social media, save their own personal Facebook pages. They understand that everybody else is excited about it, and they offer a nod to the fact that this engagement is good for us…somehow. They desperately want to wrap their minds around it, walk it down the road a bit, and be able to identify a return and reason for getting involved.  Sound familiar?

In social media, the easiest thing in the world to do is to become confused and frustrated. Part “too much information”… (Totally), and part “too many tools and ways to get involved”. It can be overwhelming to try and figure out how and where to get involved. You will need a plan. You will need to pick your tools and platforms. You will need a sensible and realistic set of goals and a strategy for how to implement social media. All of this is true; there are many questions that beg answers…right now! There truly does seem to be a sense of urgency that arises the day after we decide to get involved.

Tip #1 to combat confusion: Relax and slow your roll a little. None of this is going to go away tomorrow. Social media is evolving, and even with its rising popularity among businesses, it is by no means a standard or even an accepted practice in the majority. It’s going to take a while just to knock off all the glitter that’s been poured all over this quagmire. Ease in, you are welcome here.

I meet people with a genuine fear about getting involved. I’m not talking about the big business “I’m afraid that if we get involved, somebody will say something bad about us” kind of fear. No, I mean the much more real and human “I don’t want to look stupid or inexperienced” and the “I see my kid on Facebook whippin’ around like it’s nothing, I just don’t see myself ever being like that, it’s just too late for me to learn” type of fear. From the outside looking in, watching how fast everything moves, and seeing the vast array of tools and applications involved, I can understand the apprehension.

Tip #2 to combat confusion:  Take off the MySpace colored glasses; none of this is quite that much fun anyway. The places that you’ll be involved with are full of serious, business minded, and helpful people. Not that it’s a dull or dreary space, far from it. The immature behavior that does exist is easily avoided. I have NEVER personally encountered someone poking fun at someone else because they were new. It’s a good practice to seek out people who are helpful and communicative within a community and strive to connect with these as your foundation. Quality before numbers is especially beneficial in the beginning. Don’t complicate things for yourself by thinking that you have to be involved in everything. Bite off only as much as you are comfortable with.

Often, it’s the experienced users of social media who are the most confused. Those who have a degree of understanding and have learned to navigating the landscape, are often more lost than the beginners. If you are new to marketing in general, or have simply never been as pro-active in your own, confusion comes easy here. It takes quite some time before results can be effectively measured with any degree of success. It’s not an easy or quick thing to develop a clear overview of exactly how any of this is useful to a business in the long run. It may not be easy to accept, but it’s also possible that you may not be ready to be involved at all.

Tip #3 to combat confusion: The theme song from Rocky may not be the right tempo for you. If you are spending 18 hours a day online, networking blisters on your fingertips and don’t know why, STOP. Take a very close look at all of the places you are involved. Which ones produce results? Which of your efforts seem like more of a strain and a burden than anything else? Do you have a schedule for the time you spend each day with social media? Be open to refine and adjust EVERYTHING. This is a learning process for us all. Let go of the things that take up your time and produce little or no results. There is no end to this, so the time you dedicate today, will likely be the time required on this day next year as well. Give only what you are willing to give for the long haul.

Have you overcome social media confusion? Have you found a happy place with little frustration? If you have some tips and advice for those who are struggling, please jump in with a comment.

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