My first taste of social media was about 4 years ago.  An organization I sit on the executive committee for used Facebook to promote their events and I remember asking, “What is Facebook?”  I laugh at that question now as I don’t think there are too many people left that haven’t heard of this big player in social media (even my 72 year old dad knows about it, despite the fact that he still sometimes mistakenly refers to a Blackberry as a “blueberry”). 

I was off Facebook almost as quickly as I signed up simply because I couldn’t manage it.  The “join this group” and “so-and-so poked you” was too much for me to manage, so I deleted my account.  Then after becoming certified as a personal branding strategist, I learned that social media is not just NOT going away anytime soon, but that it also has far-reaching value.  The fact remained, however, that I needed to learn how to manage it effectively.

Whether for business or for pleasure, women make up an astounding proportion of social media users.  An article on cited research conducted by ShesConnected that said 59% of women check sites such as Twitter and Facebook multiple times of day.  While the personal reasons for using these applications seems quite obvious, the profesisonal value still leaves a question mark in many women’s minds.  I had the pleasure of interviewing Patricia Eales, Social Media Marketing Specialist.  She shared her personal and professional insights into this ever-growing phenomenon. 

Why is social media such a hot topic for professionals who want to effectively manage their career or business?

Social media is definitely the new media.  It’s a hot topic for professionals as it provides them with a no-cost to low-cost platform to showcase their expertise in their sector.  It’s an opportunity to make their firm unique and to differentiate themselves from other firms in their market. Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Blogging and YouTube are a very important part of doing business in today’s market and all business owners need to understand how using these tools effectively can provide added value to their marketing campaigns.

How did you get involved with social media?  How did you feel when you first started using it?

My first foray into social media was about 3 years ago when my daughter signed me up for Facebook.  At the time, I didn’t see the practical applications for business, and viewed it solely as another way to connect with old friends and colleagues.  When I started my Virtual Assistant business, I was able to see the value of social networking, and have since become a Certified Social Media Marketing Specialist to better serve my clients needs in Social Media.  I am a self-confessed social media-aholic.

What are some of your favourite social media sites, and how do you use them?

My two favourite social media sites are Facebook and Twitter.  Facebook is coming out with new applications almost weekly that help you link up and streamline many of your social networking platforms, as well as providing opportunities to promote and advertise your business.  I use my Facebook Business page to share articles that relate to my business, share my blog posts, as well as other practical tips that can help those who follow my page. 

Twitter is about building relationships and allowing you the opportunity to showcase your expertise and show how you can provide value to your followers, as opposed to promoting your business.  I use Twitter as an online networking group.  As you build your relationships, you can become known as a “thought leader” in your sector which can translate into business growth.

I have also incorporated blogging into my social media arsenal, as this is another fabulous platform in which to showcase my expertise.

Some people may feel that social media is just yet another distraction from “life” that would take up too much time.  What are some tips you can share to use it efficiently yet effectively?

I agree that social media, if not effectively managed, can be a huge time waster.  However, if done correctly, it takes no time at all, and can provide many benefits.  My recommendation is that the first thing you do is review what you or your business wants to accomplish with social media, set goals, and create an action plan.  You definitely need to set up profiles in the “big 3” (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn), but there are many other platforms that are sector specific that are definitely worth looking into.  The first steps involved in setting up your social media profiles can take some time, but once you have set your goals, done your research and created an action plan, the maintenance of your social media networks should never take you more than 15 – 20 minutes a day. 

The main key is to be consistent.  Set aside time each day in your calendar, and connect!  As a Social Media Marketing Specialist, I can handle some or all of my clients Social Media needs.

Patricia offers a free 1/2 hour consultation and is working on a soon-to-be released e-book on Social Media.  Stay tuned for that!


Patricia Eales is a Certified Social Media Marketing Specialist and founder of Your Extra Pair of Hands. Known to her clients as the “go to girl”, Patricia quickly built a strong Virtual Executive Assistance support service and has over 20 years of experience in business networking. You can follow her on Twitter at @PatticakeGirl.