In my spare time, I mentor younger journalists in digital roles. I've been lucky enough over the course of my career to have had some amazing mentors, and I'm a firm believer in paying it forward. I have never forgotten that when I started doing this brand new thing called social media, there was no one to help me.
I taught myself, and nearly 12 years later I've never stopped learning.
The other day, one of my mentees said something nice. "I hope that one day I'll know everything like you."
Nice, but not accurate, and I said so. Nicely, of course.
I explained that if there's one thing I know for sure in social media, there's always something to learn. Things change fast in this space, which means what was recommended a few months ago probably isn't today. Some things never change, as I'm sure is the case in financial advice, but so many things do — and they do often.
In the spirit of learning and never stopping, here are a few tips I've picked up on my knowledge journey.
Read help pages and blogs on the social media platforms themselves. Everyone has an opinion and interpretation, You don't have to accept this column at face value. But usually the most updated info comes directly from the source. For example, Twitter has a blog. Facebook has a huge help section.
Bookmark a bunch into a folder and check them once a month. Chances are you'll pick up something that'll make for great watercooler conversation.
Go through the motions. Say you've never posted to Instagram, but you're on the fence and you know you'd rock it. Upload a photo. Add filters. Add text. Add a link. Get it all ready to go.
I don't look at this as a waste of time, I look at it as practice makes perfect. Even better? Open an account, don't tell anyone and see how you do. Then when you really have the hang of it and feel comfortable, share.
Join groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. There is literally a group for everything, including groups about using social media better and using specific elements of social media. Do a search on the platform of your choice and see what looks good. Then immerse yourself and read. Then read some more.
Bonus tip. This one isn't social media specific, but I can't end this column without recommending that you mentor someone. Hopefully as a financial adviser, you're already doing that or planning to. There's nothing better than working with someone who looks up to you and wants to learn from you.
If you have a social media question or an idea for a column topic, please let me know. Tweet them to me with the hashtag #onsocialmedia or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.