One of the things I love about working with social media—both for my own purposes and with clients—is that there is so much to learn. Social media moves so fast that it keeps you learning new methods and platforms all the time. My friend Kristina—who, incidentally, I first met via social media—is a fellow student of the art and one whom I’ve learned a lot from both via our long discussions on the subject and by reading her new book: which I highly recommend for authors as well as entrepreneurs.
I’m so excited to have her on the blog today to chat about her work:
1) You’re something of a multi-hyphenate—writer, teacher, speaker, PR professional—can you give us a bit of a primer on your career thus far?
I like to say I’m passionately curious but multi-hyphenate is becoming increasingly common as the term. That curiosity has allowed me to jump from International Security (my Masters), to social media (my company), to project management (nonprofit world) and on to my most recent role heading up consumer PR at Microsoft. Just recently, I moved to Texas and am making another career leap: consulting, building a company, hosting conferences, and feeling around for what my next move will be. In the end, I follow the things that interest me and the projects that make me come alive – it’s why I got into fiction writing, but also why I served a short stint as a rodeo clown.
2) We both teach people how to use social media as part of our work. One thing we’ve discussed is that that a lot of people get really overwhelmed and even fearful when they’re first learning how to use these tools. How do you help people through that?
This is the number 1 reason I wrote my book. Social media is confusing because there are simply so many things you can do. What people often forget is that at the end of the day, we are all on social media because we want to sell something: our brand, our point of view, our products, etc. So, to simplify social media, you need to get back to what you are selling and how it relates to your entire vision for your business.
To do this, I created a one-page worksheet that helps you connect your social media with your business plan and in doing so streamline and simplify your social media. The book simply helps people to work through this worksheet. At the end of the day, it is not about being on every channel. It’s about being on the ones that work for you and drive the biggest business results. Don’t sweat the other stuff. Just do what you can. Your business will not succeed or fail based on your social media alone.
3) I love your take on connecting with influencers, a term that’s become almost meaningless in its overuse. Can you talk a bit about your definition of an influencer and how someone who is just building their brand—an entrepreneur launching their first product line or an author with their debut novel—can successfully build their network?
I think working with influencers is simply a means of connecting us back to more traditional word-of-mouth sales. One hundred years ago if you were launching a business in a new town, the way to be successful would be to gain favor with the people in town who knew the most other people, those who were arbiters of style or town gossips. Those people helped you spread the word; this is just the new way of doing that.
When we talk about influencers, the ones you’re looking for are those mid-level influencers who have one or two niches they have a devoted following in. This HBR article describes it well. Essentially, you need “cross-pollinators” who help your book or product spread out of one circle into another. So look for book enthusiasts who are also cooking experts. Or look for teachers who also love YA novels. Fair warning, this is labor intensive but I’m currently developing a software to make it easier – so there is hope that soon we can simplify how to find these folks!
Once you’ve identified them, reach out, introduce yourself to them, provide value to them before you ask for anything. Grow the relationship like you would grow a friendship. Don’t just assume they want to help you because you are awesome. (You are awesome; but show them, don’t tell them). Working with influencers is a long term game so those who have a book or product launching six months or more in the future are best suited to this type of work.
4) Let’s talk social media “don’ts”. For example, my biggest pet peeve is when people try to build up their follower count by simply following as many people as possible without actually interacting with anyone, which is tragically common. What’s something you see people doing that drives you bonkers?
People who get on social media without making a plan. It’s probably what 90% of my students do because they just want to get out there. To be successful though, you MUST connect your social media properties to a plan and that plan has to be connected to your business plan. Without it you simply won’t be as successful as you could be and that’s totally tragic. Why waste time when you don’t have time to waste?
5) I always like to remind people that social media is supposed to be fun, even when you’re using it for work. I think it’s a good strategy to focus on the platforms you enjoy the most. I have to say, Twitter (where you and I met) was my number one for a long time, but these days, Instagram kind of has my heart. What’s your favorite platform right now and why?
I still love Twitter because I love news and great suggestions on new articles. Yet, I’m (and I hate to admit it) having a bit of social media burnout right now though. I just struggle to find the time to be active on social media and in my own life, my new business, my new puppy, etc. Not only that, but I felt myself getting too caught up in it for a while where likes and follows and responses meant a lot more than they should. So, right now I’m also following the fun rule. If it’s something I think people would love, I share. If not, and I don’t post for a few days on any platform, then I accept that too. Right now, all the social platforms feel a bit passe to me and I’m actively looking for what comes next – it’s why I’m totally obsessed with chatbots and the future of AI. I don’t believe that social media will be the same in five years. Something is looming on the horizon that will change our obsessive need to fill time with content and to get social approval for it, I’m just not sure what it is yet.
Kristina Libby is a serial entrepreneur, PR professional and storyteller who writes, speaks and teaches on subjects across a wide range of issues including PR, storytelling, writing and occasionally something as bizarre and fun as dragons. You can find her book, You Don't Need Social Media Unless You Are Doing It Right, on helping small businesses simplify social media on Amazon and her new e-course on the same topic can be found here.