Today is Social Media Day, a day for people to come together online and off to celebrate all things social, and people all over the world are getting in on the fun. As I talked to a number of companies and individuals about their plans for today, I was also asked several times how I was going to celebrate. This gave me some pause.

A year ago, I was a passive social media user. Like pretty much everyone else, I had a Facebook that I used to keep in touch with my friends and a Twitter account that I used in all the wrong ways. Social media was something that I enjoyed and in which I was interested, but not something that I consumed with passion.

And yet.

At this stage of my life, I feel more passionately about writing and social media.

So I want to celebrate Social Media Day by sharing three social media tools that are indispensable to me as I work to build myself a brand. I hope that it will enlighten, inspire, or inform someone walking the path close behind me.

3 Tools For Social Media Newbies

If you’re just jumping in, there are any number of tools and resources for you to use to begin branding yourself and building a name online, and many of them are quite good for such a purpose.

1. Get a Blog
Here’s why blogging is great: it allows you to continually keep your writing in practice, yes, but it allows you to share your thoughts and knowledge. Once you’ve done that, readers will know what you stand for and thus come to paint a picture of Brand You. How do you amass readers? Advertise! I started out on my other blog with about four regular readers, one of whom was my mom (I use StatCounter with to find out who’s reading that blog). I started advertising my posts on Facebook and Twitter, and readership grew. I kept writing regularly and readership grew even more. Once I started learning a little bit about basic SEO, I tried incorporating keywords, and that helped. Today, most of my readers are people that I don’t know, and I see a fair amount of traffic from other countries, too (which I always think is cool). I may not see astronomical numbers with that blog, but I see enough to make me happy for its purposes. What’s most important is that I’m learning all the time.

I recommend to build your blog, although there are any number of other free sites you can use (Blogger and Tumblr are other common ones).

2. Get a Twitter Account
Twitter is a conversation happening with the whole world all the time. There’s so much to learn and so many interesting people to meet, and you can do it 140 characters at a time. The trick is to learn how to use Twitter effectively. I am by no means a Twitter expert and I don’t have thousands of followers, but after having done it the wrong way the first time, I know something is working out. Though I’ve had my account for not quite four months, I celebrated my one hundredth follower last month (I don’t count the spam-bots, which get blocked pretty quickly). It’s been slow, but good growth is organic. I’m finally starting to feel like I’m participating in conversations and making contacts and in many ways, Twitter has been a better networking tool for me than LinkedIn has ever been.

But again, consistency is key. You can’t just post every few days. You have to show up. You can’t just tweet out links to your own content, and you can’t just constantly re-tweet other people’s content (lest someone considers YOU a spam-bot). You have to find a balance. It’s great to pass interesting articles along, but maybe comment on them when you RT. Try to engage other users in some type of dialogue. If it doesn’t work, keep trying. The more frequently you make yourself present, the better your experience will be. While people might not need to read every minute detail of your day (congratulations on the ham sandwich for lunch?), they do want to see that you have a personality. Don’t be afraid to let it show in your tweets.

3. Start Social Bookmarking
You are what you read, right? I was a bit ambivalent about social bookmarking until I realized that it’s an excellent branding tool, and then I got myself a StumbleUpon account (but there’s also Digg and, to name two). Not only can I bookmark sites to access from other places, but I can write reviews to remind myself what the article was about. The biggest plus for me, though, is that the articles, blog posts, and websites that I mark all say something about me. This tells a potential employer, say, where my interests lie and, where applicable, what industry publications I’m reading. Be careful, though. Don’t go bookmarking everything, and definitely make sure you’ve read what you bookmark. Just as social bookmarking can give a positive impression of you, it can also give a negative one.

Your Turn
What tools would you recommend for social media newbies? Or, if you are a social media newbie, what tools do you find indispensable?

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