Congratulations! If you’ve hung in there for the last 12 weeks, there’s a good chance you may now have a pretty good handle on the Social Media tools that can help (or hurt) a CIO who is searching for new talent or who personally wishes to find a new Healthcare IT opportunity. We’ve covered Twitter - the micro-blogging platform that is literally taking over the world one Tweet at a time, LinkedIn – the social networking site for business professionals that boasts 38 million members, Facebook – a social networking site that’s perfect for personal hookups, and Blogging – a creative writing outlet that, for the right person, can help to build brands, spread ideas, and promote conversations. Great! You’re educated! So now what?
Now it’s time to put together your Social Media Strategy! Without a strategy, it’s very easy to get lost amidst all the bells and whistles and twitterers and followers and connections and networks – and pretty soon you can’t see the forest for the Tweets. Here’s what I suggest before you start:
1. Nail down your mission. Why are you bothering with Social Media in the first place? Are you hoping to recruit top-notch Healthcare IT talent? Are you interested in finding a new opportunity for yourself? Do you wish to connect with industry colleagues to share ideas? Do you want to establish yourself as an industry thought-leader? Are you hoping to reconnect with your college sweetheart? Chances are good that there’s more than one reason you’ve decided to jump in – determining exactly what those reasons are will help you stay on track.
2. Plot your course. Now that you know your mission(s), it’s time to figure out which tool or combination of tools will help to get you there in the straightest line possible. I’ve found that Social Media tools are best embraced by adding one at a time, over time. Personally I started by building a LinkedIn profile, then added a Twitter account, and finally, began to blog. This process has evolved over a two-year period – although you are certainly (a bit) behind the curve if you’re just now contemplating Social Media options, there’s really no benefit to slapping it all together in a hurry. Take enough time to really get a good feel for each tool before adding the next.
3. Coordinate your efforts. Although each Social Media tool can stand on its own, the idea is to build your overall brand as a cohesive, readily identifiable YOU. Therefore, as you build your professional Social Media brand, make sure to use consistent representations on all components – in other words, use the same photo, the same email address, the same bio, etc. on LinkedIn, Twitter, and your blog. If you do choose to build a personal brand in addition to your professional version – use a different photo, a personal email address, and a more casual bio to make sure that there’s a clear distinction. Don’t forget to cross-pollinate your tools by including your Twitter address on your LinkedIn profile, etc.
4. Organize your time. I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll mention it again. Social Media can be a HUGE, addictive, time drain. HUGE. You know how sometimes you say you’re going to jump online “for just a minute” to check … I don’t know, the basketball score? So you go to NCAA.com, and sure enough, there it is. But wait – there’s a link to “Blogs.” Wonder who’s blogging? Cool, student athletes. Look at that – Johns Hopkins has a Lacrosse team blogger. I’ll just take a sec to see what he’s all about. Awww….he’s got a double major in History and Art History…bless his Liberal Arts heart. What’s that banner ad? Hmmm…if I answer three trivia questions I can win a Wilson Competition Basketball…damn, I’ve been here an hour! Sound familiar? Oh come on – you know you’ve done it! Well, I’m here to tell you. Twitter, in particular, can be addictive. Fair warning. As part of your Social Media Strategy, it is crucial that you determine the amount of your valuable time that you are able to devote to working on your mission, and stick to it.