We’re half way through our social media marketing 101 series and it’s a perfect time to talk about what it really means to be social. The elements of social media marketing come down to three basic actions: sharing, collaborating and connecting.
Sharing is Caring...
While they may seem like three altruistic behaviors, if executed successively, they can be very beneficial to your company, product or brand. As basic as they are, though, they do not come naturally to everyone. You may think that social media is about broadcasting your message loud and clear to everyone to hear. But it’s not. It’s about sharing information so that you can help posit yourself as an authority. Nobody likes a blabber mouth, especially when networking socially.
Remember your 3-minute conversation at the loud, crowded bar? If you’re trying to engage another in conversation, it’s probably best not to go on and on about yourself. Instead, you want to try to impress your acquaintance with your broad outlook on current events, relevant industry news, as well as some good ol’ fashioned small talk. You’ll also want to be witty, rather than stoic and stiff. So why not be the same person on Twitter?
You’re only as good as the information you share -- so check your sources first to ensure that it’s a link you and your brand wants to be associated with. It seems like an obvious thing to say, but a lot of misleading information can spread very quickly.
This false story (Tupac died in 1996) was indexed by Google News, and spread rapidly through Facebook and Twitter, even after PBS pulled it down.
The information you share should be relevant to what you do, what you stand for and the industry you represent. Sharing too much random information isn’t helpful and can confuse your followers, customers and everyone in between.
Add value to what you share. Sharing isn’t inherently valuable. Sharing information that others can use, is. Additionally, anyone can ReTweet or repost updates. Let your readers, followers and users know that you’ve actually read what you’re sharing by adding a few key insights of your own. Depending on the platform you can summarize your thoughts in a few characters or a few paragraphs.
Once you become a sharing-master, you can begin to take the next step into collaboration. Why not pool your resources together to make something great? The resources available to you come in many forms -- people, interests and activities. Social networks can become a viable community. Why not leverage the power of the community to work together to accomplish something bigger than you can do yourself? Whether it’s creating lists of people to follow or creating a group where you can all post files, ask questions and hang out, as well as participating in live chats, many social platforms offer lots of flexibility for collaborating.
How does collaboration start? Usually it starts the same way it does in real life -- by asking questions or offering up help.
Like the internet with its vast collection of information, social networks can offer up an impression collection of opinions, ideas and perspectives that may not otherwise be available to you. Even if you never speak up, simply acting a voyeur can benefit your knowledge management. It’s like being at the bar and listening to others’ conversations. After awhile you’ll want to ask questions to get the entire story, but being an active listener can often be one of the best ways to gather information -- true for social networking and in real life!
Connecting the Dots
Social networks help build relationships. Companies can begin to build strong customer relationships, while colleagues and industry professionals can build strong communities with which to consult for resources and guidance.
By actively sharing, listening and collaborating with others via social networks, your network of peers will begin to grow. Like any healthy relationship, you must cultivate these relationships. Here are a few ways that can help:
- For companies who want to continue to foster an engaging user community, it’s important to continue to offer incentives and other exclusive information. It can come in any form, snail mail thank you notes, emails or discount codes.
- Don’t be afraid to engage in real life. Conferences are the perfect opportunity for you to meet and greet your followers. Encourage attendees to write their Twitter handle on their name tags -- you’ll be surprised how many people will recognize you by your handle rather than your actual name. As well, organizing meet ups and Tweet-ups can help facilitate conversations among online users.
- If you’re using resources developed from within a community, give recognition. Acknowledge that you’re leveraging the power of social networks and you’ll encourage others to do the same. Whether it’s at the end of your presentation or a Follow Friday, giving a shout out to your users will show them that they are valued and the information offered isn’t taken for granted.
Remember that sharing, collaborating and connecting are not reserved exclusively for online community building. It works especially well when networking socially on and offline. Next week, we’ll talk about how to choose the right platform for you and your users.
Editor's note: Check Marisa's entire series devoted to Social Media Marketing.