It seems like every time I open my email inbox, I find an invite to yet ANOTHER social network. Most of the time they get deleted.
Don’t get me wrong. I like social networks. But I primarily use 4 social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Quora, and LinkedIn and ignore the rest. (Check out my blog post 13 sites I can’t live without).
I don’t sign up to more social networks because the purpose of social networking is not ubiquity; it’s depth. You don’t have to be on every social network. Rather, you should be an active participant in a few social networks. Signing up (and never using) social networks is a mile-wide/inch-deep problem. You can connect to everyone everywhere but you’re only connected to them; you’re not actually connecting with them.
The purpose of social networks is to effectively connect with them by connecting/following/friending and then diving deep into that connection… that’s the purpose of social media even if you run a business.
In order to effectively connect with people in social media, there are three essential activities you need to do:
3 ESSENTIAL ACTIVITIES: ENGAGE, BUILD CREDIBILITY, ADD VALUE
The three essential social media activities are to engage people, build credibility, and add value. You need to perform these activities in this order. As well, these are cyclical activities in that you need to keep doing them over and over:
- Engage: Get to know the people in your network. Take time to learn about them. Listen to what they have to say. Take an interest in the things that they are interested in.
- Build credibility: Without bragging, demonstrate that you know what you are talking about. Connect with industry experts. Quote them. Comment on them. Discuss your industry. Talk about your accomplishments (sparingly and humbly, of course).
- Add value: Make it worthwhile to listen to you. Provide tips and advice. Be selflessly helpful. Be generous. Share.
By doing these three things over and over, you’ll connect with your audience and become a valuable part of their social network. They’ll come to recognize you as someone who is worth listening to. And when that happens, you’ll have influence and authority and all of the great stuff that comes with being a go-to person.
HOW TO ENGAGE, BUILD CREDIBILITY, AND ADD VALUE
Okay, I’ll be honest: I don’t do these things really well all the time. Sometimes I rock out all three activities, sometimes I’m mediocre at a couple of these activities, and sometimes I suck at them. I’d like to show you a tool I use to help keep me on track so I can focus on connecting with people effectively.
First, you should have some idea about what you want to accomplish with your social networks. Check out my blog post entitled Your social presence map: How to define what to share and what not to share on the social web. Create a social presence map to analyze which social networks you use and how you use them.
Then, create a chart that looks like this with the three essential social media activities listed across the top:
And down the left side, write down the names of the social networks you want to use for business. I’ve listed the social networks/social media sites I use for business (and I included my blog because blogs are considered part of social media even though it may not technically be a social network).
You’ll see below that I’ve listed “Questions”, “Replies”, and “Retweets” as an engagement activity for when I use Twitter. By this I mean that I want to ask questions, reply to people, and retweet tweets that I think are valuable. Do this for each social network site.
Next, fill out the next column by listing credibility-building activities you can do in each social network. For example, in LinkedIn, I can build credibility by sharing links, answering questions, participating in groups, and connecting with experts.
Then, fill out the last column of ways to add value to the people in that social network. For example, on my blog I’ve made a note to make sure that each blog post ends with a to-do and that I create downloadable content that people might find useful.
Fill out each cell. Some will be easy to fill out and some will be more difficult to fill out, but try to fill them out. See what other people are doing to perform that activity in their social network and look for ways to adopt the same ideas for yourself. Push yourself to go beyond the obvious to discover innovative ways to perform each activity. And don’t forget that you can often link social media together so that an activity in one network can also be an activity in another network!
ONCE YOU’RE DONE, PUT THESE IN YOUR SCHEDULE
I love to use social media. But I have my faults: When I get really busy, I neglect my networks. Plus I sometimes forget to listen to people or to be intentional. I wish that all of the things listed in the chart above were second nature. But they’re not.
Until they are, I try to put these tasks (or at least SOME of these tasks) into my schedule so I remember to do them. For example, I make it a point to read a minimum number of Quora questions every day. And I try to make sure that I’m retweeting content. I don’t want to be strict about it (“I must retweet 5 tweets per day”) because it’s not a formula for success. However, I recognize that I don’t always do the things at all I should be doing them. So by adding these tasks to my schedule, I can be more intentional intentional about connecting with my network. And I’ve found that there comes a point when it does become second nature and you can remove it from your schedule without removing it as a habit.