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February 17, 2009

Social Networking, Going Beyond the MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter

Have you noticed? Social networking and social media is taking the Internet by storm. Everyone is getting into the game from small businesses to big corporations. Does that mean all of the opportunity is gone? No. The real truth is 90 percent of people are getting it completely wrong.

Effective social networking goes beyond registering for MySpace, Facebook, and/or Twitter. Social networking requires participation and valuable contribution to the community. Here are the secrets of maximizing your social networking.

Listening

Getting into the conversation starts with listening to your community. Take some time to research your target audience–people you want in your community. Here are a couple of my favorite techniques:

  • Use Google’s Blog Search to find blogs and commentary associated with your business
  • Set-up Google alerts to email you tips on new content related to your marketplace
  • Use Twitter Search to monitor community related conversation in real-time

Not only will listening tune you into your target audience–it will reveal opportunity.

Participating

Note, the first word is social networking is “social.” That means that people expect connections in their network to participate. They are looking for a conversation. Getting the most out of your social networking means giving your community what they want. Here are a few techniques I like to use:

  • Ask questions. Nothing draws a crowd faster than asking for advice.
  • Answer questions. This demonstrates expertise and adds value.
  • Link to great resources. Linking gives to the community and builds goodwill.
  • Share good content. I good proportion you should share your own content.

Participating shows a genuine interest in the community, building your credibility and reputation–important to powering a successful social network.

Audience Building

Once engaged in your social network, it is time to build your own audience. Your audience should be folks that follow you and are influenced by you.

You want to be a leader in your social network to get the biggest return. This of course requires trust and reputation. Each is built over time and based mainly on useful and valuable participation.

Join the conversation, help people, and be willing to learn and your audience will grow. However, one powerful suggestions–focus on conversations and interactions that have keyword clues. This will help attract an appropriate audience. Also, every social network has a search tool–this is how most audiences get built, like websites it takes a little smart SEO.

Mobilizing

As you build your audience don’t be shy to get them doing something. People love to be part of a cause or project. Most will happily get involved. So, start mobilizing your audience early. This will make them a powerhouse as you audience grows and you are really to charge them with a really big initiative.

Are you now convinced that social networking is more than a seizure inducing MySpace page, a college reunion FaceBook network, or a java fueled blasting of what your ate for dinner? Social networking is about–listening, participating, and mobilizing. Get yours started today.


Bill Rice Social networking is much more than just signing up for a few social media accounts. A smart social media strategy takes real community, audience, and target market consideration. http://bizinneed.com

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