You’re staying away from social because it’s destroying your business focus? You do realise that’s where your customers hang out, right? Here’s how you can stop avoiding all those brilliant, free networking platforms and start using them smartly.

SQUIRREL! We all know someone who’s easily distracted. The latest shiny thing immediately pulls their attention away from their business and they lose focus.

These people (maybe it’s you?) are the human equivalent of Doug the dog, from the movie, Up. You remember him, right? He’d constantly break off, mid conversation, at the mere sniff of a squirrel.

When it comes to us human’s , it’s usually one hell of a habit and there’s usually more than one squirrel.

It doesn’t even have to be anything that exciting. And it definitely doesn’t always need to be social.

A noise outside. Pictures of Aunt Ethel’s 80th birthday party. The smell of freshly roasted coffee beans. Netflix. A daytime chat show…

See? It’s easy to blame social media for the distraction but, the truth is, it’s really that wandering mind of yours that’s the culprit. You, my friend, need to get that squirrel on a leash!

If you’re finding you’re too distracted by YouTube videos, TED talks or the latest happenings on Buzzfeed, the problem isn’t really social media.

The problem is self discipline. Or lack of it.

Yes, I know you’re often being lured away thanks to Facebook clickbait, but you do not have to attend every cute animal video to which you’re invited!

Now, of course, this could lead us down the path of wondering whether you’re in the right business if your attention is so easily pulled away from it, but that’s for another article on another day.

Right now, let’s just give you a few ideas about how you can clean up your social media habits, grow your attention span and stop being distracted by that blasted squirrel!

Here’s how I’ve made social media work for me… seven quick tips that might just work for you too:

1: Get proactive

You need to stop being distracted and start getting proactive…

If you’re just starting out, concentrate on one channel at a time (Facebook or LinkedIn, maybe) and make it your own. Think of it as exploring a new place — find out where all the hidden gems are, get to know it like the back of your hand and keep interacting, sharing and being of use until all the locals know you.

To be clear here, I’m not talking about constantly scrolling and indulging in everyone else’s dramas and kitten pictures. I’m talking about focusing on your business.

Get to grips with a Facebook business page, work out which hashtags might be best for you on Insta, grow your community of relevant business contacts on LinkedIn, you might even decide to seek media and business opportunities on Twitter. Just focus on growing your brand and audience and learn the ropes one channel at a time.

When it feels easy and you know you can keep hanging out there and being recognised, maybe start exploring in a few new places as well, following the same methodology.

2: Concentrate on your own feeds

At first, stick to your own business. Sure, keep an eye on what’s going on in the wider world but, predominantly, concentrate on your own feeds.

Spend time on your own content, on engaging with and encouraging your own audience, whether that’s engaging in relevant groups, creating your own content or — ideally — a bit of both.

Stop being distracted by what others might be doing if it has nothing to do with your area of business, quit getting all mushy over kitten pics or checking to see which Stranger Things character you’re most like.

Grow and nurture your own audience.

That’s all you need to be concerned with at first. Visibility for you and your business.

3: Step away from that drama

Step away from drama and politics. Keep it clean. If you know your audience hangs out in a particular group, but it’s full of bun fights, stop worrying about other people’s crazy updates and start posting your own in there.

Groups are created by lots of people engaging… if you don’t like the content others are providing, create and post your own. You don’t need to be the sheriff, but you can still do your bit to clean up the town AND reach your audience.

You don’t need to get the hell out of Dodge… you just need to provide alternative topics to generate the kind of experience your audience will appreciate.

If it’s people on your own personal feed who are giving you that welcome distraction, indulge in a bit of subtle unfollowing. You don’t need to unfriend them — just click that little button and unfollow their updates.

I use this method for people who are alway stressy, drama-addicted or overtly pessimistic. I can still love them — I just choose not to allow their crap to infiltrate my social feeds. My feeds are much happier because of that — and so am I!

4: Patience really is a virtue

If people don’t engage with you right away, don’t complain and don’t give up. It takes time for the locals (your audience) to notice you and fall in love with you. Lots of tiny gestures, consistently offered, go much further than big, sweeping gestures. You’re aiming for long lasting relationships, not one night stands.

Keep taking a step back from the content you’re creating — make sure it’s educational, entertaining, interesting, relevant — keep it real. Do not be tempted to fill your feeds with buy my stuff posts. You’ll just turn people off.

Same applies to groups. Don’t just start spamming them with your message. Look for people talking about areas that are relevant to your business, or your knowledge base, and start chipping in. Again, don’t go all hard sales on their comment stream — be of use, be helpful, be human.

5: Don’t thrust your goodies at people

We hinted at this earlier. Don’t be distracted by your own business offerings and fall into the sell, sell, sell trap.

Remember it’s SOCIAL media — be a human being.

Be interesting. Advise. Entertain. Be an expert. Be useful. Be friendly. Make people want to find out more.

Ever been to a trade show? Be the virtual version of that stand people are queueing to get onto, not the one with a bored/overly stressed team thrusting leaflets at people as they attempt to walk past. Get it?

6: Time to create some groupies?

When you’ve created enough interest, have enough of a tribe, you might even want to create your own groups. Facebook groups can still be a great way to generate interest and, ultimately, new business. LinkedIn’s group facility isn’t quite as intuitive and switched on yet, in my opinion, but word on the street is that improvements are coming.

Imagine that? Your audience coming to YOU? Creating an online space where people actively want to hang out and enjoy the vibe you’ve created?

Think about the groups you enjoy most. What makes you want to hang out there? How could you create a similar vibe that’s relevant for your end users?

If you get this right, it doesn’t matter how busy you perceive the massive world of social media to be, you will have created your own safe space AND a demand for it. Your pages. Your groups.

Everything flips the other way… it’s your world now — you’re attracting the tourists. You might want to take the occasional trip to the rest of social media, but your prime go to locations — for you AND your audience — are your own.

Beware though… it takes consistent effort to get to this point, and you’ll need to keep creating good, engaging content to keep people coming back.

Oh…and one more thing… these need to be IN ADDITION to the work you’re doing to grow your brand awareness and following on your pages and channels — it’s not a replacement.

7: There’s no need to snap

This is your bonus tip…

You ready?

If you don’t understand Snapchat, don’t worry. Most other grown ups don’t get it either. 😄

Remember though, today’s kids are tomorrow’s customers…

************

Have fun. Be fun. Encourage fun.

That’s it. Keep that squirrel on a leash. Stop making excuses. Clean up Dodge and aim for a tribe of your own that’ll hang out in the places you create.

Dump the stress and have fun with it … that’s one of many reasons people’ll want to come to your party.

#UnleashYourAwesome

Taz

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Taz Thornton is the author of Awesome Sauce — a free, weekly positive life and business round-up, with good news stories, positivity tips and visibility hacks for your brand. In a few minutes each week, you get a dose of optimism and some awesome advice to get seen and stay happy.

Taz is also a best-selling author, inspirational business speaker and consultant on confidence, personal brand and visibility, award-winning coach (UK’s Best Female Coach 2018 — Best Business Woman Awards), consultant and creator of the #UnleashYourAwesome and #BrandMasterypersonal and business development programmes, as well as #UNLEASHED — an affordable confidence, content and cashflow building programme for coaches, healers and therapists.

She has been featured on BBC, ITV, in HuffPost, Diva and countless other newspapers, magazines and podcasts. Taz is also a regular columnist for the America Out Loud talkshow network.

Find her on FacebookLinkedInTwitter and Insta.