Friday, December 11, 2009

Do's and Do Not's of Social Networking

We can tell you to click here and click there, fill out this form and make a post over at that other website, but it's often not easy to truly understand what's going on in Social Networking.  It's true that a lot of the flavor of a meal is discovered while you're eating it.  In other words, you'll learn a lot about using social networks simply by being on them.  Still, here are some general guidelines of how to approach them so that you'll do better right from the start.

Do These Things:

  1. Find your audience - Using your keywords to search through profiles helps filter out a lot of people who have no interest in your business or your products.  Spend your time and efforts on people who are more likely to buy.
  2. Actively participate - Find your audience, and interact with them.  Before you know it, they'll be checking out your website and making you money.  But first, just join the party.  If you sit quietly in the corner and watch, nothing will happen.
  3. Share good content, not just your own - If you're at a party, and someone is monopolizing the conversation, talking only about themselves and their own accomplishments, it gets pretty old pretty fast, doesn't it?  Share some links and info about other, still relevant, sites you've found, and people will like following you.
  4. Be a source of value - Along the same lines, if they can count on you for the good stuff, the useful info, and the exciting news, then they'll be excited to see something you've posted.
  5. Use the same avatar - From one social network to another, it's a good idea to use the same avatar or profile image.  This is a part of your branding efforts.  Use your company logo, if it works as a small image.  People will begin to recognize you.  (One time at church someone came up to me and said, "Hey, I saw you out on the 'net the other day.  Man, you are EVERYwhere!")
  6. Update your site and blog, so you have something to talk about on the 'network.

Don't Do These Things:

  1. Don't just plug your products - It's OK to mention your own products and your own blogs every once in a while, but if your twitter feed or your facebook page is nothing but ads, I'm going to unfollow you fast.  Visit with me, don't just sell to me.
  2. Don't use tools to add millions of friends/followers - I recently tried a tool that got me thousands of twitter followers overnight.  Most of them were clogging my twitter feed with ads for diet pills and cheap mortgages.  When I posted about new blog entry, I got a couple of dozen hits from twitter.  Pretty lame percentage out of thousands of followers.  I've seen other things like this happen all the time.  Quantity is great, as long as it's a high quantity of good quality friends and followers.  Remember: find your audience!
  3. Don't spew out flow - Some people want to post every detail of their personal existence.  I don't care if you're in a Starbucks having a mocha venti grande.  I also don't care to read about how long it took you to get to work this morning.  Unless you make it relevant to your topic, leave it out.  I don't mind if a part of your social networking posts are personal.  That's what shows you're human.  But don't just share the mind-numbing dullness of your dreary life.
  4. Don't friend everyone - Not everyone is your audience, and not everyone is interested in your products.  Don't waste your time on people that won't buy.  If someone friends you and you can tell they're just looking for a bigger list, you don't have to friend them back.
  5. Don't use the same accounts for personal networking and business networking - The more I work this, the more I realize it's much more effective to split them into separate accounts. 
  6. Don't post too much - There's a guy on my Facebook friends list that shares good, informative content.  That's great, right?  Except he posts every 10 to 20 minutes.  I don't have time to read all that, and it clutters up my profile.  Even good content, 5-10 times a day, can get annoying.
  7. Don't post too little - You're easy to forget, and if you wait too many days in between blog posts, or Twitter tweets, it's tough to build up an audience of readers.

Like I said before, as you use the social networks, you'll learn more and more how to make it effective for you.  There are many more tips and tricks that you'll pick up along the way.  Many of the tips that I learned were shared with me by other users!  Keep learning and you'll do well!

Mark is currently in the curriculum Department of an internet and SEO training company. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including Mark's Black Pot - Dutch Oven Recipes, and his MoBoy blog.

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