I have found Social Networking (SN) to be the easiest, fastest and most effective way to connect with my group and this article clearly explains how I manage thousands of friend/follower connections in less than fifteen minutes a day. By following this simple system, you will endear yourself to your entire group while increasing their desire to support you.
It may not work out like this for you, but less than two months after launching my SN profiles in late 2008, the results exceeded those achieved by running thousands of dollars in Google AdWords. I currently run no ads at all and enjoy an increased number of website hits and sales.
What is Social Networking (SN)?
Social Networking refers to the process of socializing via any of the online communities including some you've probably heard of already like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
These Social Networking (SN) sites all have their own perks and quirks, but if used wisely, they can provide an effective and enjoyable way to interact with people who you may never be able to reach in any other way.
Benefits of Social Networking
There are so many great things about Social Networking, not to mention the free advertising it provides! My personal favorite is reconnecting with people I thought I would never see again. I have literally cried as former teachers and school friends have shown up on my page!
SN also makes it easy to stay in touch with my large group of customers, employees, friends and family members. All this can be done in a matter of a few minutes per communiqué. You may find yourself delighted to get in on some of the daily "tidbits" that you would otherwise miss -- and to see recent photos from long-distance loved ones. SN is ideal for personal and business interaction.
Social Networking for People with Large Groups
The average person engaging in Social Networking has one or two networking sites with about 100 connections at each. Leaders would never have time to do SN in the way those users can.
It is likely that you will have hundreds or even thousands of follower/friends within a matter of weeks or months. You must think ahead and use a system that will work for you instead of bury you alive.
The key to your SN success lies in micro-blogging, the feature which allows you only 140 characters to answer the question: "What are you doing right now?"
Using this option will enable you to communicate frequently with your group with practically zero time investment. Ideally, you will want to post one to four times of these mini-messages each day you are on your computer. Note: It is imperative that you utilize the shortcuts outlined below.
Cautions of Social Networking
Spending too much time is the most obvious SN trap, but there is no need to do so, as I'll explain in a bit.
From my perspective, the biggest challenge is communicating effectively in 140 characters. Here is a simple example: Several weeks ago I awoke to an extremely busy day with a mid-afternoon writing deadline. I was so pressed for time that I began working the moment I got out of bed in the morning and I never took a break to shower, get on my regular clothes or even eat. Upon meeting the deadline, I breathed a sigh of relief, posted a note about finally getting to take a shower and get out of my pj's for the first time all day, and I logged off for the day.
To my amusement, the next time I viewed my profile, I found that everyone who had replied to my post had jumped to the conclusion that I had spent the entire day lounging around. It was hilarious to contemplate the huge difference between their glamorous rendition and my taxing reality. Things are not always as they appear and it is easy to be completely misunderstood.
Success Secrets for Social Networking
1. Be "real and engaging." Use your micro-blogging minutes to post the real answer to the generic question, "What are you doing?" But couple it with the silent qualifier, "...that would be of interest to at least ten people you know personally." Things to post about include the recipe your family is raving about, the movie you just enjoyed watching, a link to a cool blog post or article, your emotions as you watched the sun rise, what you just did for exercise, your gratitude toward a certain charity, and so on.
2. Don't sell, just tell it like it is. Live your life "out loud" via your SN posts but remember that your group is made up of "real" people. They are honestly attempting to enjoy your company - don't be a bore!
3. Invite interaction. Just yesterday I posted a link from my retail store: "Finished the Americana floral display for June/July-love it! Now I'm reordering candy. My nemesis is Reese's Crispy Crunchy. What's yours?" Within minutes several people had added their own. Since the point of SN is interaction, provide opportunities.
4. Limit your posts to four per day. I personally delete connections with people who dominate my wall with post after post after post. And I always delete those who post only self-serving messages. Remember, this is JUST like a face-to-face conversation with real people. Basically, do your best to balance the need to be the real you while maintaining a decent level of privacy for yourself and your family.
Here's how to get mega mileage out of minimal daily time investment:
1. Set up accounts only at sites where you are needed. There are over 60 sites out there: Register only with those from whom you are receiving personal invitations via email. In other words, follow your group!
2. Set tight parameters. Leaders cannot afford the luxury of "hanging out" at SN sites. Most people enjoy doing all of the following things that would put me right over the edge, therefore, I never: a) join groups, lists or causes, b) take quizzes, c) play games or d) open the countless cute gifts, cards, etc. that I receive everyday. I do, however, post micro-blogs, interact with those in my group, reply to emails, and visit/leave notes on other people's profile pages.
3. Decide who you will befriend. The following set of rules was explained to me before I started using SN and I recommend it to you. Approve only those a) who have posted a profile photo; b) with whom you have at least one friend or connection in common; and c) who have wholesome content on their visible profile page.
4. Maximize your SN minutes. Once you have your memberships established, create a free account with ping.fm. This will allow you to type your message once and have it post to all of your SN membership sites simultaneously.
5. As usual, you are being watched. Use good judgment when deciding what to post: Privacy is a big issue. First, do not divulge information that may hurt you or someone else in any way. Think, "If this is on the news tonight, will I be OK with that?" Also, remember that no site is 100% hack-free. Even the Pentagon web site, which has probably one of the most secure servers in the world, was hacked.
6. Shorten everything. Use abbreviations like "U" for "you" and "4" instead of "for". Plus, reduce the length of any website link you post by using a URL shortening service. I prefer to use cli.gs. Just today it reduced a 57 character link down to 18. The beauty of cli.gs is that it is free, can be searched by Google and provides click-through counts and other analytics.
7. Log on to each account only as often as necessary. I visit Facebook most days, Twitter and LinkedIn every few days and the rest of my SN sites a few times a month.
Marnie's Personal Guidelines for Social Networking
As a public figure with thousands of SN connections at numerous sites, I could spend my entire life on SN, but I don't and you don't have to either. Actually, I find it amusing that people tend to think that I do spend a lot of time doing SN. Honestly, I post one to four messages most days from ping.fm, without ever logging into each individual SN site, and then once a day I log onto my biggest account. Every few days I check in at my next biggest sites and a few times a month I manage the rest.
I routinely spend no more than 15 minutes total on any given day, unless I'm "playing".
I have no rules about "playing" on SN. Whenever I feel like it, usually a few times a month, I log onto my favorite site and just have fun. I think of these times as "entertainment" and enjoy myself completely, usually in the time I would have spent watching a movie or reading a book anyway.
Social Networking (SN) has allowed me to meaningfully connect with my group, save advertising dollars and increase my sphere of influence all while having a ton of fun. I encourage you to give it a try -- and once you create your profile at the SN site of your choice, I would be honored if you would connect with me! My SN links are easily found on my website at http://www.marnie.com.