Social media is a way to transmit, or share information with a broad audience. Everyone has the opportunity to create and distribute. All you really need is an internet connection and you’re off to the races. On the other hand, social networking is an act of engagement. Groups of people with common interests, or like-minds, associate together on social networking sites and build relationships through community. (Source: SocialMediaToday.com)
What is Social Networking? Social networking is the grouping of individuals into specific groups, like small rural communities or a neighborhood subdivision. There are a number of social networking websites that focus on particular interests. (See BONUS Article list below) Two-thirds of online adults (66%) use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or LinkedIn.
“Social media isn’t effective if you use it to simply “collect” people so you have large numbers. Collecting connections and followers is a numbers game and it is very easy to do so. However just collecting people doesn’t mean your creating valuable relations that are relative and relevant to your business.” ~ Jay Deragon
There are dozens of really great reasons why to use social media but we’ll keep it to the top ten. They are:
1. You will find whomever you want to do business with somewhere online.
2. You will find whatever knowledge you need about any market or any person online.
3. You can reach your market by simply engaging in the right conversations with the right people. This is more effective than advertising.
4. If your business can’t be found, isn’t engaging with the market or worse yet ignoring the market you are not likely to be creating transactional opportunities while your competition does.
5. Communications is a system to leverage your organizations ability to communicate with your market. Social media is the new communications system.
6. Social media saves time and money if you use it right for the right things.
7. If you learn “how” to use social media correctly then you’ll understand “what” your market is looking for and “where” they are looking. You’d want them to look for you.
8. “When” your customers and prospects are engaging about you, your industry or your products and services you need to be there listening. Otherwise how will you gain the necessary market intelligence, be enabled to respond or even be aware of problems or needs. If you are not present when and where the conversations are occurring you are basically out of touch with your market.
9. Communications is about reach. Communicating is about relational dynamics between people. Social media provides the means to effectively communicate with your market. However communicating in human rather than institutional terms.
10. If you are not communicating (listening first, initiating second) then how in the world do you expect to create relationship with people and businesses that may want the value you offer? (Source: http://www.relationship-economy.com)
A profile photo or company logo is worth a thousand tweets! Use a real photo of you or company logo on your social media profiles. (not your kids, not your car, and not some bizarro unidentifiable thumbnail image). Don’t use a cartoon character or your pet’s photo. Help your connections put a face with a name. They’ll be more likely to remember you when they need to find someone with your expertise or product. I will never communicate (“like”) with a Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest or LinkedIn site without a photo.
Use your real name to brand professional profiles on social media sites. Take personal brand management seriously. Facebook, one of the best-known social media sites on the Internet today, has become a valuable way of networking outside your circle.
Keep things professional. Make sure you don’t communicate anything you wouldn’t want your clients, prospects or potential employers to read.
Twitter and Facebook are no longer just for college kids who want to post their party pics. Businesses increasingly use these sites to promote brands, products and services, and as a means to building more authentic business relationships. They have learned how to be brilliant, pithy and relevant in 140 Characters. While setting up a profile on Twitter sites may cost zero dollars, its management requires constant care and feeding. And I will add, social media sites can become quite addictive. Be sure to manage your time with social media sites or they will end up managing you! 😉
Get creative in selecting networking options. Many people overlook industry/professional associations and their monthly meetings. Those meeting are often open to non-members in related industries and may attract people who normally do not attend chamber events. Online social media networking can be powerful however, you cannot beat the old fashion face-to-face way!
What about Pinterest? This social network is a place to organize and share online images that you find interesting or inspiring and continues to reinforce the trending growth of an increasingly visual social web. Its users are extremely engaged. LinkedIn is another site that is mostly used by businesses. Remember to check out Google+ and YouTube.
“A business that doesn’t take the little time required to Blog or use social networking is ignoring one of the lowest-cost, highest returns on investments they can make,” says Paul Allen, CEO of MyFamily.com, and a social networking enthusiast. “In just minutes you can set up a Facebook group or event and get dozens of interested people there. It’s a low-cost way to find potential contractors, employees or business partners,” he says.
My friend, Susan RoAne, The Mingling Maven®, says, “The chitchat about chat rooms has exploded since I first wrote about it in 1995. We now have several generations of people whose virtual socializing, conversing and networking has exceeded their real time of each activity. With that, we have lost a lot of our personal touch. The on-line world not only gives us a new type of room to work, we also get thousands of possible “rooms” in which to chat about anything, anywhere, anytime. It’s a room without the boundaries of walls or time, yet there are rules and boundaries of better behavior to be observed.”
I can say this: Networking with social media is not a fad. It will evolve and likely turn into something barely recognizable from the social media we know and use today. It will be here in some form or another forever. Social media can be confusing and sometimes overwhelming. However, be quick to learn new tools, new technologies – and how to appropriately apply them to your business.
There are hundreds of pages on the Internet that you can read about networking with social media. Suggestion: Always check the social media site you are on for the latest changes. Here are a few sources that have been helpful to me.
BONUS Article: 7 Lessons for Better Networking with Social Media
Top 15 Most Popular Social Networking Sites | August 2012
6 Social Media Networks to Watch in 2012 [Plus Infographics]
13 Reasons Why Using Social Media For Business is Non Negotiable!
9 Social Media Mistakes to Avoid
18 Reasons to Use Social Media
networking for Business Using Social Networks: Top 20 Dos and Don’ts
The 10 Commandments of Facebook
Gettin’ Geeky Video Archive
Copyright © 2012 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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