Last week I registered for the BlogHer 13 conference, which will take place in Chicago July 25-27 of next year, and I’m very excited! If you sign up before Nov. 7, you can get the $198 early bird rate, too. After that, the price doubles, so sign up fast, so we can hang out in Chicago next year!
When I registered for the BlogHer conference, I had to fill out a form that asked me how many followers I have on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram. I spend most of my social media time on my blog, Twitter, and Facebook. I post to Google+ now and then, I almost never use Pinterest, I have no idea if I have any followers on YouTube, and I don’t even have an Instagram account. But wait! Don't I teach social media classes at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto? Shouldn’t I have a gazillion followers on ALL the big social media platforms? If I were superhuman and had no job and no kids, I may be able to achieve that, but realistically, we all have lives outside of social media (I hope) and choosing two or three platforms to really build up a loyal network of online friends and followers is better than spreading yourself too thin over too many different social media platforms.
But which two or three platforms should you choose? The biggest? (Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest) But what if you hate tweeting, and pinning reminds me too much of that awful scrapbooking class you had to take at summer camp in seventh grade? The answer is that you should focus on the platforms that you love most. If you’re a writer, you probably like blogging. If you're a graphic designer or interior designer, you may prefer Pinterest. If you're a photographer, Instagram and Google+ are your friends.
Instagram has 80 million users and was purchased in April by Facebook, which recently hit the 1 BILLION user mark. Here are 10 great ways businesses can use Instagram, and all bloggers can extrapolate ideas from this list.
Pinterest is the third largest social network after Facebook and Twitter, with 23 million users. The cool new kid on the block, Pinterest is being imitated by eBay, StumbleUpon, AOL, and even Facebook, which is planning to launch a feature called “Collections” that will allow retailers to “Want” and “Collect” buttons to their newsfeeds and product ads. Pinterest is the fasting growing social network with 70% of its users women. So if you like to take photos of things you bake or sew or grow or places you have traveled, be sure to include a Pin It button.
Google+, although hardly a competitor for Facebook, does have a hearty following among photographers. Why? Because Google allows photographers to retain ownership of their photos while Facebook claims ownership of all photos posted to users’ timelines. Nature photographer Mike Spinak, of Naturography, has nearly 43,000 followers on Google+. I know Mike. He's an introvert. And yet he's made Google+ work for him. How does he do it? He posts his amazing photos, he posts photography tips, and he spends time interacting with his followers in a genuine, non-spammy way. Another great thing about Google+ is that its posts show up in Google searches, unlike tweets and Facebook posts.
YouTube, owned by Google, has 800,000,000 unique users every month. And you don't have to be on YouTube to use YouTube. Bloggers and Facebook and users are notorious for sharing videos of cute cats, laughing babies, and flash mob performances. But YouTube is about more than viral videos. There are legions of YouTube users who have built loyal followings with instructional videos on everything from how to thread a sewing machine to how to make a paper crane. YouTube is where I turn when I need to know how to do something that will be easier to understand by watching it than by reading about it. It’s also a wonderful way for authors to give their readers a glimpse into their personal lives, which every reader craves.
So while Facebook and Twitter are still the behemoths of the social media world, you should spend your time where you most want to be. If it’s surrounded by images, then get pinning. If it’s interviewing rock musicians, then install a YouTube follower button on your blog and buy yourself an iPhone microphone. If it's snapping photos on the fly, download Instagram and play with the filters.
No matter how introverted or extroverted you are, there’s a social network for you. You just need to invest a little time exploring which one is the right fit. Experiment, play. You may be surprised to find that the new kid on the block is your new best friend.