Thursday, April 24, 2008

Social Networking – Making all the Cats Play Nice Together

Sometimes, when I consider all of the options and directions that social networking is taking us, I am reminded of the analogy of “herding cats”. How can you keep track of it all? There are so many social networking sites, so many options and opportunities, so many blogs to read, it just plain gets overwhelming.

I mean, forget about trying to make it work, forget about playing the game, how do you even just get started? How do you wrap your head around it? And, how do you keep it all going? Can you even imagine integrating it all into a comprehensive promotional plan and actually accomplishing anything?

It’s like each site (and there are new ones every day, it seems) is like another cat in the house that is your website. And if you have one or two cats, they’re pretty easy to manage, aren’t they? But after a while, you get a few more and a few more, and before you know it you got a whole pounce of cats. And each one wants to go a different way, and wander off into places you don’t understand. And then they start mewing to be fed!

Well, let’s talk about how to do it.

  1. First, start with only a few cats, and let them grow.

There are a lot of social networking sites, and they can get really crazy. So, it can be a good idea to ease into it, rather than to jump in. Start with a simple blog, maybe a Twitter account, or a Squidoo lens. Maybe after a while, you could make a MySpace page. The point is that jumping in and trying to maintain a lot of social networking sites can be very overwhelming. Pick a few and get a feel for them, then add more.

  1. Cats love to be fed, and petted

If you’ve got a lot of cats, and you want to get all of their attention really quickly, you can do it with these three words: Shake The Box. That’s right. Grab the box of cat food and give it a shake. Ears will perk, eyes will turn, and the cats will come running to you. In our analogy, the catfood is good content. If you shake up something of interest, of value to your audience, they will perk up and come running.

Of course, if you shake the box, and then don’t actually pour out anything of value, it won’t take long before the cats learn that you’re bluffing. And then you can’t pay them enough to come to you.

Cats also love attention. Go out on the ‘net, and give a few strokes to the cats out there. Post some comments on other people’s sites. Post some tweets and blogs ABOUT other people’s sites. That’ll get cats purring and meowing, and coming back to your site.

  1. Cats like catnip, but it doesn’t help

Cats like catnip because it gets them stoned. They roll in it, they chew on it, they play with it. In the end, however, they don’t really do anything with it. They just get buzzed for a while. Catnip doesn’t nourish them like catfood does. It doesn’t satisfy them like getting a good rubdown does.

In our analogy, catnip is fluff. It’s like posting a blog entry about your breakfast. Or tweeting about the weather. If you can’t make it creative or informative, then ultimately it’s going to leave people unsatisfied. Posting often is important. Posting good, substantial content is more important.

  1. Change the litter box once in a while

Once you’ve been doing something over and over for a while, even if it works, it eventually gets a bit stinky, like an old litter box. It’s time to change it up. Freshen it. Get a new perspective, try some new ideas. Clean out your social networking and people will notice and come back.

With all of these ideas, you can start to herd your pounce of cats into something more manageable and ultimately successful in your social networking efforts.

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

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