7 Ways To Master the Fear of Social Media
7 Ways To Master the Fear of Social Media
7 Ways To Master the Fear of Social Media

Back in the 1990s, Intel CEO Andy Grove had a famous slogan: “Only the paranoid survive.”  He meant that companies (and people) had to constantly be ready to change, quickly, and adapt-or get crushed.

I had a lot of respect for Grove (I worked for Intel in the 1990s), but that thinking doesn’t work when it comes to social media. I’ve never met a successful paranoid blogger (someone who was scared to blog, but did anyway).

Yet, truth is many people are outright scared to blog or participate in social media activities. You can’t blame them. Their boss might frown on it. They may not be good writers. They may have little time.

It all adds up to a fear of social media.

Dangerous Risk Adrenaline Suicide by Fear of F...
Image by epSos.de via Flickr

The good news is anyone can get over the fear of social media with a little practice. It’s sort of like public speaking-once you learn you a few techniques, and practice enough, the fears start melting away.

Below is a good starting tip sheet (this can apply to first time bloggers, or social media and marketing managers working with new bloggers).

  1. Listen first: Spend a week or two carefully reading industry blogs in your area. Get a feel for their topics and tone, and think about how you would write about the subject. You can follow your favorite blogs through tools like Google Reader or iGoogle, or a platform like Alltop.
  2. Start small: You don’t start off speaking in Carnegie Hall-you start with a small group. Similarly, start small by commenting on an industry blog you’re familiar with. Pick a noncontroversial subject and try to “extend” the conversation with some additional thoughts (“Nice piece.. One other angle to consider is…”)
  3. Work with an editor: Editors can help you sort through ideas and develop a sharp angle and/or get started on that dreaded first paragraph. If you don’ t have an editor, find an experienced blogger to brainstorm your ideas.
  4. Get educated: Check out online courses on everything from blogging to Twitter strategies, or get 1:1 coaching or training if your budget allows- group training is cool too (you’ll learn from your colleagues). We’ve trained several hundred bloggers from big high-tech companies, and almost every participant is ready to start blogging, tweeting or tackling Facebook or another channel by the time they’re finished. Think of it like Toastmasters for new bloggers.
  5. Get even more educated: You can check out top business blogs to get a feel for different corporate and writing styles,  but also explore other strong blogs in your industry. What makes them interesting, engaging? For social media strategies and techniques, my favorite sites include MarketingProfs, CopyBlogger, ProBlogger, Convince & Convert, Social Media Examiner, Conversation Agent, and of course, Social Media Explorer (all of these include content strategy and marketing posts).
  6. Get out of the office: Attend a local social media event. You’ll get to rub shoulders with people who really believe in social media, and you may learn some new strategies and techniques.
  7. Communicate: If you’re expecting resistance, meet with your manager, PR groups and/or lawyers, and work out social media agreements.  Make them part of the early decision making process if you’re (social media managers) developing a governance model and broader program. A great tip I heard at the IABC/PRSA conference this week in Portland:  bring the bosses and lawyers to a social media conference so they can get a real taste of social media-and a heavy dose of why it works, ROI, and new strategies.

One last tip-often new bloggers get hung up on the writing. Try this: develop an argument, write three supporting points in bullet form. Then a conclusion. Example: Businesses must do more to encourage work/life balance. Supporting point #1: employees are more productive when they’re able to take care of their families #2: It’s good for the business (ex: recruiting new employees) #3 People will do whatever it takes anyhow to care for their families. Throw in one or two corporate examples and quick summary. Set it aside and polish it later, focusing on the writing this time. You’re done.

It’s not rocket science, but it does take some effort. Like the fear of public speaking–or any fear– it only goes away when you tackle it head on.

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About the Author

Mark Ivey
Mark Ivey is a social media consultant with the ION Group and a published author with a broad corporate background in editorial, marketing, social media and executive communications. He’s served as a Bureau Chief at BusinessWeek magazine, national media spokesman for Intel, and recently, as Editor in Chief for Hewlett Packard, where he pioneered a new program to drive its enterprise blogs and other social media activities. Besides family, friends and good wine, his passion is social media-training, strategizing, and exploring new digital paths for his clients. Find him on Twitter at @markivey.
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  • I think the 7 ways explained out here are a great way to start. I also believe one of the reasons people are fearful is cause there is no clarity on how one can map existing business objectives to social initiatives. This is still evolving and here’s my take on it http://bit.ly/MapBiz2Social

  • Mr. Mark Ivey,

    Thank you for sharing this post. It really help me a lot in how will I overcome my fear in joining to forums and to post comments too. I really love doing blog posts and I usually use social media networks to market my own blog site but then as I said I do have fear in communicating to my audience and to senior bloggers too. Glad that with the tips you shared, I can plan for the things I have to do and to learn so that I become a confident blogger and affiliate marketer someday. Thanks a lot.


  • I am also a novice blogger, and I think you are so right @propagandahouse …JUST WRITE!  You are always going to make mistakes and learn as you go, but the hardest obstacle is starting.  Once you get over that hurdle, the rest is easy.  There is so much information available to everyone, and you have to have an opinion on something!

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  • Anonymous

    Nice post Mark – I’m a very novice blogger and can’t agree more about the importance of listeningand getting educated. Two other things that help me:

    – JUST WRITE: sometimes you can get caught up trying to plan things in your head, and won’t put anything to paper (or screen) because you’re afraid it will be no good. By removing this road block I find my mind starts flowing a lot more quickly – and if it’s no good you can just delete it!

    – Plan content in advance: kind of an extension to your last tip; I find if I plan out ideas for posts say a month in advance, and have those ideas in my head – I’ll randomly think of points that I can add to those posts, hence adding more depth to the article.


    • Good tips Dan. Planning in advance is always good, putting a stake in the ground. “Just write” sounds simple, but it works. Easier to change gears once you’re rolling than standing still. One tactic some people use is to get something on paper, write it out, let it flow. Then write a short high level outline, and move things around in modular form. Seems sort of backwards but it works for a friend of mine. thanks for commenting. 

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  • Hi mark, great post. A good way to start of is to familiarize yourself with blogging. Being comfortable with it makes it easy to work with it. Finding a niche site that your easy with also helps. Doing a little research will give you more knowledge in a topic you choose to work on.

  • Excellent post Mark. I think the “start small” and “work with an editor” are big points. In fact I would consider “work with an editor” more like working with a mentor or consultant… someone who has been successfully involved in producing content for the social web. It doesn’t take much for a sharp individual to catch on and feel comfortable when they have someone that they can refer to when they have questions. 

  • Excellent post Mark. I think the “start small” and “work with an editor” are big points. In fact I would consider “work with an editor” more like working with a mentor or consultant… someone who has been successfully involved in producing content for the social web. It doesn’t take much for a sharp individual to catch on and feel comfortable when they have someone that they can refer to when they have questions. 

  •  Thanks for the tips! I plan on starting a blog and I will definitely be referring back to this article. 

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  • Great advice. Once you get into the mindset of blogging, ideas *will* start to come – and the benefits of being able to showcase and share expertise are colossal for your business!

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  • From experience, I’d also suggest keeping a bank of ideas to write about. Note them down as they come to you and you can develop them when you have time. So often you set time aside for yourself to write, then have a complete mental block. Listing your ideas also allows you to discard those you have second thoughts about. 

  • Wow, lots to
    digest. Thanks for generously sharing this useful info. Especially appreciate
    the acknowledgment that for social media, the goal may not be tens of
    thousands of fans but a few hundred solid ones.

  • Anonymous

    This is very relatable to me.  I have not ever used social media until 6 months ago.  I started slowly and now realize it is a large conversation that I enjoy being apart of.  I have to admit some days I still get a little nervours being a part of the conversation, but like the community.   

  •  Mark, nice post. I think the underlying idea you’re hinting at here is that most businesses still don’t grasp the potential and work involved in social. You can’t just jump in and expect everything to work. It’s slow and steady, one bite at a time.

  • Thanks Mark!  I think you really have provided some great tips.  Social media can be overwhelming if you aren’t even sure where to start.  I think it’s important to have some mini-goals on what you want to accomplish, even if it’s just reading a blog every day.  It’s a goal…it’s measurable…and it starts shedding the anxiety factor.

    •   A daily “mini-goal”  makes sense. Think of one thing you want to accomplish every day, and it can be a modest goal, as you say.  Good one…

      • Thanks Mark for sharing.  Keep up the good work!

      • Thanks Mark for sharing.  Keep up the good work!

  • Starting small is the best thing you can do. This is what i tell people to do when doing guest posting is to star with small blogs first.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off” 

    • “Starting small” is key- too many beginner bloggers try to boil the ocean and cover big topics..then get frustrated.  we do it across organizations too, starting with small, focused pilot programs vs big ones.. thanks 

  • Nice post.  Great job of summarizing a few steps to get started.  This is enough info right here to “just do it”!

  •  I think that the most important thing in your first blogging steps is to arrange everything the way you will enjoy it. Even if your blog should be very strict and professional – you should start your first posts from something that appeals to you personally and move to a more professional style with time.

    And don’t expect your first blogposts to be stunning and impressing – the first ones will most likely be lame :) But this should not stop you as within a month or two you’ll feel that you’re getting good at it!

    • Good points Steve, walk before you run. Too many bloggers get intimidated thinking they have to write the great novel or the “perfect post.”  

  •  I think Editors in the list helped the most, this is because I got an editor and he helped me get out contents faster than i usually do. I used to get 2-3 contents out a week but with an editor, i am able to get 4-5 contents a week, a huge jump. 

    Don’t really need an amazing editor, just someone who will proof read and help to arrange the ideas 

    • Perfect example. I’m hugely biased coming out of editorial, but I know I can save my bloggers a lot of time with a good editor and churn out good content faster, as you point out. And of course they’re available now–all those print pubs shutting down, cutting back and corp. market is tight.. 

  • These are helpful and informative tips. thanks MARK for the sharing with us…