Social Networking 101
We’ve all heard it: Sign up with Twitter, put up a profile on Facebook, MySpace, or LinkedIn, email everybody in the world, then sit back while “viral marketing” drives millions of people to you, and after just a few days you retire as a billionaire.
OK class, who here sees the problems with this?
Lets start at the beginning. One of the easiest ways to do that is to equate this process to something we know in the physical world. After all, people are people, wherever they congregate.
Image you had a store along a busy highway. Millions of cars go by every day. Each car does not represent a sale, even if everybody sees you. They don’t even equate to referrals. Unless you are selling something of interest, no one will stop, and no one will mention you to anyone else.
So what is our first lesson?
Just “being” there is not enough. You have to offer something that interests people. If you are marketing your business then presenting your products and services is an obvious start. Don’t stop there, though, or you will miss the whole purpose of social networks.
Going back to our analogy of a highway store, consider the effect it would have on passersby if it was plain and unremarkable, or worse, if it looked dilapidated and abandoned. A quick look at any of the social networking sites will show that the majority of profiles are not maintained. In many cases the owners haven’t even visited since they first created them.
Our second lesson?
Make your profile attractive. Attractive in this case does not mean visually pleasing. I have seen pages that are butt-ugly, but have a huge following. No, in this environment I mean that your profile has to attract attention, and it does that by being active.
Email everybody and tell them to email everyone they know until the world is beating a path to your door, right?
If that actually worked, no one would ever spend a penny on advertising. There was a period of time during the 1960s – 70s when advertisers thought it would be “clever” to put big, bold headlines in ads and on storefronts with things like “FREE MONEY” or “SEX”. Needless to say, the got everybody to stop and read the ad, or come into the store. Of course that’s where the problems began. The rest of the ad would say something like “…just kidding, But now that I have your attention I would like to tell you about…”.
People felt tricked, and they made their displeasure known. Advertisers stopped being so “clever”.
The third lesson?
It’s not about numbers, it’s about quality. You don’t want the whole world. In traditional marketing it is a game of statistics – 1.5% to 3.5% of all people who receive and ad will respond to it, so clearly you need more people to see it. With modern search technology, though, the people who visit you are there because they are looking for what you offer. This mean a clear, honest, and consistent message will give you the results you are after.
We have all called companies and stores and found ourselves in endless voicemail systems, or we go in to a store were the loud speaker is announcing the next sale area, TVs have the store’s commercials on continuous loop, there are maps, directories, automated checkout, and all kinds of technology, but we can’t find any people. The experience is unrewarding. You are not alone in this feeling. In fact this is exactly what gave birth to the idea of – are you ready for this – “social” networks.
What is our final lesson today?
It is all about relationships. Just like in real life, it is a balancing act between having lots of friends or just a few really good ones. Don’t be so gregarious that you don’t have time for the people who are most interested in you, but also work at expanding your network. Remember, too, that relationships are two-way. This is not just about pushing your products and services. Ask people their opinion. Listen to feedback. Take the time to pay attention to what is important to them.
In the end you probably won’t become an overnight billionaire, but the people you do business with will enjoy the experience more, and your life will have a new level of fulfillment.
Popular Social Networks
Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?
Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
MySpace a place for friends, an interactive, international, user-submitted network of friends, personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music, and videos for teenagers and adults.
LinkedIn over 35 million professionals, spanning 170 industries use LinkedIn to exchange information, ideas and opportunities