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Basic Guide and Free Resources for Using Social Media

Sections of This Topic Include

- What is Social Networking?
- What is Social Media?

How to Get Started With Social Media
- Which Social Media Tools Should You Use?
- What Are Uses of Social Media?
- How to Get Started With Social Media

Communicating on Social Media
- Whom Will You Communicate With?
- How Will You Communicate It?

Social Media Plans and Policies
- Build Your Social Media Plan Right From Scratch
- Plan How to Evaluate Your Social Networking
- Social Networking Policies

Example Use: Social Media for Marketing
- Social Media for Marketing - Part 1 of 2
- Social Media for Marketing - Part 2 of 2

Social Media Tools
- Categories of Social Media Tools
- Major Social Media Tools
- Other Popular Social Media Tools
- Social Media Management Tools

Online Reputation Management
- How to Monitor Your Reputation
- How to Fight Back When Needed

Get Help from Experts in Social Media?

Also consider
Marketing On-Line
Public and Media Relations
Related Library Topics

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What is Social Networking? defines social networking simply as "The process of creating, building, and nurturing virtual communities and relationships between people online." So social networking is the broad type of networking that so many of us consider networking to be; however, it is conducted virtually via tools on the Internet.

Online social networking is viewed by many as the next new paradigm in personal, professional and organizational networking and marketing. The following link provides a broad overview of social networking.
Social Networking (Wikipedia)

The social network is a vital resource for organizations and is accessible to us all. Organizations can usually control the assets that they use, but who controls the social network?
Who Owns the Social Network?

What is Social Media? defines social media as "the collective of online communications channels dedicated to community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration. Websites and applications dedicated to forums, microblogging, social networking, social bookmarking, social curation, and wikis are among the different types of social media." So essentially social media refers to the tools that used in social networking.

This article helps you to take a broader -- but more conversational -- view of social media.
28 Telling Responses to 27 Things About Working in Social Media

Here are some articles that explain why social media is so important to organizations.
How Social Networking Has Changed Business
Company Culture: It Cannot Run and It Cannot Hide (from Social Media)

How to Get Started With Social Media

How to Get Started With Social Media

It can seem overwhelming to think about even where to start, especially because it seems that social media can be used for so many applications -- and because the number of tools seem to expand so rapidly. Fortunately, a lot of the advice about getting started seems similar to advice about starting other ventures: start with planning. That is the topic in the next section, but for now, it will help to read some advice about getting started.
17 Tips For Getting Your Small Business Started With Social Media
Getting Started with Social Media
6 Essential Steps for Executing Your Social Media Strategy
How To Get Started In Social Media

What Are The Uses Of Social Media?

As with any widely used set of tools, it is sometimes difficult to know where to start when using the tools. As you can imagine, the uses of social media are vast. Perhaps the most visible use is for networking with friends and family. Many of us are also used to thinking about social media as being used for marketing, public relations, advertising and promotions, and research for a wide variety of purposes. People also enjoy immediate access to a wide variety of news media and journalism about current events.

However, more recently, the tools are also used to cultivate citizen participation, including to enlighten citizenry about various social causes, as well as to mobilize and organize citizens to have a strong voice in their communities and nations.
What Are the Uses of Social Media?
More Uses of Social Media

As beneficial as social media has been, there have also been a variety of negative uses and impacts.
The Negative Impact of Social Networking Sites
How Social Media is Bad for You
Social Media Overload: When is Enough Too Much?

Which Social Media Tools Should You Use?

Start by taking a broad view of your most important needs in addressing your strategic priorities. For example, is it most important now to expand your markets and products? If so, then use market research to identify new markets and use product development to produce products and services for those new markets. In that situation, use social media tools that have has a large number of users in order to pose your research questions across a broad range of people, for example, use Facebook and Twitter. If, on the other hand, your most important priority is to cultivate stronger relationships with your customers, then you might use Twitter to regularly send short messages to them. So before you start selecting which tools to use, first you should determine what "success" even means.
What Does Real Social Media Success Look Like?

So to best identify which tools to use, it is important to:

  1. To do planning to know what are your most important strategic needs now?
  2. Think about "success" means, for example, what goals would be achieved.
  3. Consider the categories of social media that most closely match your needs.
  4. Consider some of the most popular tools in that category.
  5. Perhaps get some quick expert advice to narrow down your choices.
  6. Start simple, but start.

The remaining subtopics will help you to select the best tool to use.

Communicating on Social Media

The most important part of using social media is not selecting the right tool. It's knowing whom to write to and what to write to them.

Whom Will You Communicate With?

Think about:

  1. The different groups that you want to communicate with, for example, customers, suppliers, investors/funders, collaborators, community leaders, researchers, etc.
  2. What do you want each group to believe about you and/or your organization?
  3. What messages need to be conveyed to each group in order for them to believe that?
  4. How does each group prefer to get their communications, for example, short emails or tweets, brochures, research reports, etc.?
  5. Who will communicate to which groups, how and by when?

Put the answers to those questions into an overall communications plan that you begin to implement.

How Will You Communicate It?

People know that first impressions are extremely important. That is true not just in in-person communications, but in writing, as well. The following links are to articles to help you ensure that your writing is high-quality.

Building Blocks of Composition


Writing Process

Planning and Organizing
Writing for Readability
Formatting Your Writing
Getting Starting With Writing
Reviewing Your Writing

Writing Online

Email versus Voice
Email Writing
Styles of Writing
Writing for Readability

Social Media Plans and Policies

Build Your Social Media Plan Right – From Scratch

© Copyright Lisa Chapman

How to Reach Your Target Audience

In addition to your primary site, social media sites leverage your messages online. The wonder of social media is that it naturally connects people who have similar interests. You want to reach your friends, and your friends’ friends.

When you engage in discussions online through social media, your message can even “go viral”, gaining momentum and reaching well beyond your friends’ friends. The ultimate goal of an internet marketing campaign is to create a meaningful message that reaches its target audience and is virally spread to others who are interested in the topic.

Social Media Plan Fundamentals

Build your social media presence and interaction very deliberately. Certain basic fundamentals will make your social media efforts most rewarding:

  • Write down your business goals.
  • Find and listen to the conversations that are already taking place online about you, your products, your competitors, and your competitors’ products.
  • Find and listen to your ideal customers’ needs. Remember, when you offer a solution that solves a pressing problem, fulfills an urgent need, or gives them hope and joy, people will eagerly buy it.
  • Choose key social media sites for your target niche and establish your online profile.
  • Integrate those sites for maximum exposure, brand-building, and traffic.
  • Engage in conversations.
  • Build your network or following. Build your email database.
  • Track and monitor activity and results.
  • Tweak to continually improve results.
  • Repeat.

Listen, Engage, Add Valuable Content

A site that allows users to interact and add content (comments, links, photos, video, etc.) is social. Use first person. Make your interaction sound and feel genuine. The people you meet online will be attracted to you (and what you offer) when you add helpful, meaningful input. If you’re new to social media, it is widely recommended that you first LISTEN to the conversation in order to become familiar with its unique style and flow.

Also see
Gotta Have A Social Media Strategy
How To Create a Successful Social Media Campaign
A Worthwhile Social Media Strategy Always BEGINS with Goals
Social Media Strategies
Want to Lead Corporate Social Strategy? Read This

Getting Social Media Right: A Short Guide for Nonprofit Organizations
21 Ways Non-Profits Can Leverage Social Media
The Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report – Highlights and My Two Cents

When to Stop and When to Keep Going with Your Social Media Strategy
5 Social Media Blunders That Prevent Brands From Showing a ROI

Planning How to Evaluate Your Social Networking

Remember when you first started planning how to use social media, using the guidelines near the top of this topic? Guidelines suggested that you identify what "success" really means. Now is when you can evaluate whether that success is being met or not.
10 Social Media Metrics for Nonprofit Organizations
5 Essential & Easy Social Media Metrics You Should Be Measuring
Measuring Social Networks
The Klout Score, a Way to Measure Online Influence
Evaluating Online Activities: Online Action Should Create & Support Offline Action

Social Networking Policies

© Copyright Lisa Chapman

Blogs, comments and social network postings are very important in businesses’ marketing tactics. They attract audiences and begin to build relationships of trust and engagement. But employee posts can also inadvertently cause PR nightmares for business, if even ONE errant post goes viral and causes negative word of mouth.

Legal Risks of Employees’ Social Media Use

When using social media, companies are exposed to many serious risks from multiple angles, including:

Anti-trust issues
Inappropriate use by staff
Intellectual property rights
User generated content
Employment practices

Don’t let your marketing and communications teams run ahead without due diligence and risk management controls.

EXAMPLE Social Media Policies

Let’s take a quick look at a few companies’ policies and guidelines on employee use of social networking. The policy excerpts below offer highlights of their own in-house guidelines:

Yahoo’s Blog Policies – Belief Statement

“Yahoo! believes in fostering a thriving online community and supports blogging as a valuable component of shared media.”

Mayo Clinic’s Employee Social Media Policy

“The main thing Mayo employees need to remember about blogs and social networking sites is that the same basic policies apply in these spaces as in other areas of their lives. The purpose of these guidelines is to help employees understand how Mayo policies apply to these newer technologies for communication, so you can participate with confidence not only on this blog, but in other social media platforms.”

City of Seattle

“To address the fast-changing landscape of the Internet and the way residents communicate and obtain information online, City of Seattle departments may consider using social media tools to reach a broader audience. The City encourages the use of social media to further the goals of the City and the missions of its departments, where appropriate.”

Many companies are quite explicit, with well-defined, formal rules. Others adopt a more open, lenient culture.

Why You Need a Social Media Policy
How Can Companies Craft the Best Social Media Policies?
Global Study: Business Policy and Risks of Employee Social Media Use
How to Develop a Social Media Content Strategy
Is Your Social Networking Policy Illegal?
Who Owns the Social Network?
How to Avoid a Social Media Lawsuit
Your Organization Needs a Social Media Policy

Example Use: Social Media for Marketing

Back to Basics: Social Media for Marketing – Part 1 of 2

© Copyright Lisa Chapman

Simple Steps will Integrate Social Media into Your Traditional Marketing Plan

As a marketing and small business consultant ( and social media consultant (, I am continually astounded at how SLOW small business managers really are in understanding, budgeting, and integrating online marketing into their traditional marketing plans. Lots of lip service, very little action.

I realize that this is old news, but if this post motivates even a just handful of small businesses to actually START their trek into online marketing, I will be thrilled.

For those of you who have already started – congratulations, and please read this in the spirit of checking yourself. Have you covered the basics?

Why is Social Media Marketing Important?

Traditional marketing has changed and will never be the same.

  • Technology allows consumers to mute or skip TV commercials – and they do.
  • Newspaper and all print circulation is dying. Ads do not get our attention.
  • One-way “push” messaging is now viewed as offensive and hype-ish. Bad for the brand.
  • Consumers are overwhelmingly ‘over-messaged’. We are all OVERLOADED.
  • Consumers do not trust traditional marketers anymore.

Consumers Demand More Attention

Online, consumers have a voice. If a company’s product or service doesn’t match their marketing claims, WATCH OUT! Disgruntled and disenchanted consumers now have the power to publish all of their harsh and unedited opinions – anytime they want to! Once published online, those messages are likely permanent, and business has no control over the backlash.

Consumers want and demand that:

  • Their voice be heard and ACKNOWLEDGED.
  • Companies be accountable for mismatched promises and actions.
  • Their peers be involved in the most powerful ‘word-of-mouth’ ever.

Business Can Take Action and Benefit Enormously

Think of it like this: social networks are actually a democratic form of business! Customers vote with their opinions. Business has a gigantic opportunity to directly impact their customers online, engage them, and develop a real relationship of TRUST that will be stronger and longer-lived.

Businesses of all sizes MUST adopt and USE a social networking and social media marketing strategies NOW – or risk being left in the dust.

Back to Basics: Social Media for Marketing – Part 2 of 2

© Copyright Lisa Chapman

Integrate Social Media Marketing – Brand Advocates

When companies engage their audience and develop online relationships with real authenticity and trust, they have an exciting opportunity to make those individuals volunteer advocates of their brand!

Business has never had a bigger vehicle for positive word-of-mouth advertising. Fun campaigns can go ‘viral’ and trigger momentum like never before. This takes some strategic planning by management, and some genuine understanding of social networks. It’s a new culture that MUST be embraced by the entire organization, from the top down.

7 Steps to Start Strategizing – Target and Engage Your Online Audience

  1. Gather together a company team to strategize social media marketing. Include a cross-section of top management, sales, marketing, customer service, and a knowledgeable social media marketing individual (bring in a consultant if you don’t have this expertise on staff.)
  2. Convene this group for a minimum of four hours. Bring the current marketing plan. Ask everyone, “Does our (product or service) delivery match our marketing message?” If not, STOP. You must solve these problems before you can mount a successful social media marketing strategy/plan/campaign.
  3. Discuss and decide on your marketing and advertising goals. Do your current marketing and advertising efforts achieve them? If so, challenge the team to set higher goals, and brainstorm ways that social media marketing can be implemented.
  4. Identify online communities where your ideal customer congregates or searches. For example, if you are a local business, Google: “(your city) directories” to find local directories in which you should be listed.
  5. Make sure that you have searched and settled on specific keywords and keyword phrases that you use consistently in all of your online content.
  6. Establish 2-6 online “properties” (all optimized for your keywords) such as; at least one website, blog, social network site, and directory. The more places you exist online, the greater your chances of being found!
  7. Brainstorm online campaigns that help you achieve your goals. Remember, social media is effective ONLY if you have an end in mind. Otherwise, it’s fun, but can be a waste of time and precious resources.

Hundreds of creative possibilities exist, depending on your time, budget and goals. Have fun with this!

Also see
Building Your Brand with Social Media
The Social Graph
Small Business Social Media Marketing - 3 Success Stories
10 Laws of Social Media Marketing
Use Social Media to Increase Sales
Plan and Build Your Social Media Presence
How To Make A Social Media Campaign Go Viral
Social Media, Hot Marketing and Nobody is Listening
Is Marketing on ALL Social Media Sites Necessary?

Social Media Tools

Categories of Social Media Tools

Before selecting which tools to use, it helps to get some perspective by considering the different overall types (or categories) of social media tools and what each is used for.
Seven Key Categories of Social Media Marketing Tools
Clearing Clouds of Confusion – the 5 Categories of Social Media Software
Different Categories of Social Media Tools

Major Social Media Tools

Although there has been a recent explosion of new tools, the following tools are some of the more popular for you consider.


A blog is an online journal of information about a certain topic. The blogger, or owner of the blog, writes or publishes regular "posts," or articles, about the topic. Posts vary in size from 100 words to 1,000 depending on the nature of the topic. The posts might be published once a month or even once a day, depending on the blogger's time and energy for the blog.

A blog is a powerful means for the blogger to establish relationships with stakeholders by sharing his/her opinions and expertise on a regular basis. Stakeholders could include, e.g., customers, investors, employees, community leaders, collaborators and suppliers. The stakeholders read the blog posts to learn more about the topic and even more about the blogger.

Business Blog FAQ
Advice for New Bloggers
7 Blogging Mistakes That Small Businesses Make
Starting to Write Your Business Blog
Blogging for Your Online Business
Blogging: The Spiders Say It's Time You Got Started
Use Email Marketing to Grow Your Blog
5 Tips on Business Blogging With Minimal Resources
The Short Post Vs. The Long Post. Who Will Be Victor?
Blog Posting Frequency Overview
Backup Your Blog
Your Blog
How to Find Endless Topics for Blog Posts

Here's a link to a list of directories, each of which lists many blogs about various topic.

Directories of Blogs About Management Topics


LinkedIn is sometimes described as a "social networking service for adults". It's a very useful tool for quickly informing people about your professional experiences, skills and interests. You also can use LinkedIn to conveniently network with others who have similar backgrounds and interests. Compare LinkedIn to Facebook, below, which tends to be about more informal topics, such as personal background, interests, family, hobbies, friends, etc.
LinkedIn (Wikipedia)
LinkedIn - Social Networking for Professionals
The Missing Link (myspace for adults)
LinkedIn Criticism
How to Grow Your LinkedIn Network
5 Tips for Individuals to Help Companies Get More Out of LinkedIn
LinkedIn Company Pages
Leveraging Social Networking Sites to Generate Business


People can join Facebook to share information about themselves or their organization. Information about themselves tends to be rather informal -- more so than LinkedIn. Organizations increasingly use Facebook as a public relations tool, to inform the public about the organization.
Facebook (Wikipedia)
Criticism of Facebook
Using Facebook to Capture Customers
How to Use Facebook to Drive Higher Sales
How to Create an Effective Company Facebook Page
Facebook Marketing Q & A - The Essentials for Small Business Social Media Marketing
Facebook: Convert Personal to Business
What is a Facebook “Like” Worth? Part 1 of 2
What is a Facebook “Like” Worth? Part 2 of 2


Instagram is a free tool for sharing videos and photographs. Research shows that a large percentage of people prefer to communicate visually rather than by reading. Instagram is very useful for people who prefer visual communications, especially via their smartphones. Research also shows that people are immediately more affected by images than by words.
Why is Instagram so Popular?
9 Reasons Instagram Will Overtake Facebook
What is Instagram and Why Is It So Popular?


Twitter is a social networking site that allows the author to quickly share messages, or tweets, of up to 140 characters and with huge numbers of people. While 140 characters might seem quite limiting, an increasing number of people and organizations use Twitter to share opinions and even to advertise products and services. Some news organizations use Twitter to quickly broadcast up-to-the-minute news items.
Twitter (Wikipedia)
Five Ways Twitter Can Help You Conquer Distraction
Five Things Wrong With Twitter When It Comes to Marketing
How to Twitter and Get More Followers
Why Should I Be on Twitter and What Should I Do First?
Twitter Mistakes to Avoid
Twitter No-No’s
Emergency Twitter Tips
Twitter Wit: Is It Time for Subtle?
Nine Specific Ways to use Twitter for your Business


YouTube provides a forum in which people can show videos about a broad range of subjects, including about themselves and their organizations. The videos usually include audio/sound, so YouTube is a very quick, convenient, low-cost way to broadcast information about yourself and your organization. It's viewed by millions of people.
YouTube (Wikipedia)
Mashable (about social networking tools)
How to Use YouTube for Marketing Your Business

Other Popular Tools

When determining the most popular tools, it is important to know what type of tool that you are looking for. For example, in 2019, Facebook has the largest number of users, followed by YouTube, WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat and Instagram.

The 7 Biggest Social Media Sites in 2019
Top 15 Most Popular Social Networking Sites and Apps [2019]
21 Top Social Media Sites to Consider for Your Brand
65+ Social Networking Sites You Need to Know About

Social Media Management Tools

There are so many tools that there now are social media management tools for managing the many tools that you might use.

The 7 Best Free Social Media Management Tools in 2019
The 9 Best Social Media Management Apps in 2019
13 of the Best Social Media Management Tools
The 25 Top Social Media Management Tools for Businesses of All Sizes

Online Reputation Management

Social media permits you to expose your values, opinions and activities to a much wider audience than ever before. While that comes with many benefits, it also comes with a price. You have to be more diligent than ever before in monitoring how others are perceiving you and what they are saying about you.

How to Monitor Your Reputation

In effect, your online activities create a reputation about you as much as, or more, than your in-person activities. That has spawned a new field of practitioners who help you manage your online reputation.
What is Online Reputation Management?
Free Social Media Monitoring
Why is Social Media Listening Important?

Reputation Management (vast resources)

How to Fight Back When Needed

When something negative is said about you, it can seem impossible to "un-ring that bell" because that information can spread like a wild fire. However, as more people have suffered from negative publicity, more tools and methods have sprung up to deal with these situations.
Protecting and Repairing Your Online Reputation
Fight Back with Social Media

Reputation Management (vast resources)

Get Help from an Expert in Social Media?

You might consider getting the advice of an expert in social media. If you have followed the guidelines in this overall topic, then you can already provide a great deal of very useful information to the expert, which will likely decrease the amount of time needed from that person, as well as decreasing the fees that you would pay.

How to Hire The Perfect Person To Run Your Social Media
Read This Before You Hire A Social Media Expert
5 Musts Before Hiring a Social Media Specialist

Also see
How to Successfully Hire and Work With an Excellent Consultant


For the Category of Social Networking:

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