Saturday, November 20, 2010

Building a Firm Foundation for Your Social Media Strategy

Have you come to the conclusion that social media is not going away? For those of you who are just getting started, here are some tips to encourage your progress. You will be pleasantly surprised by the personal interactions you can have online with your existing friends, family and professional connections.

Most people get bored with twitter because they follow a few friends that they know are on twitter and a few celebrities or big brands. Twitter is best used by finding new friends who are real people. Do a search in the Twitter search box for a subject that you are interested in or the industry that you work in. You may notice a word with “#” in front of it. This is called a hashtag. All of the people who are tweeting about that topic are including that particular hashtag so that you can do a search with the hashtag and only see tweets related to that topic. This is a good way to find, and follow, people who are tweeting about something you are interested in. You should monitor the list of people following you so that you can follow them back if their bio sounds interesting. Don’t be afraid to talk to people! Just send a message by including the “@” in front of the person’s name, i.e. @elizabethglau.

If Facebook were a country, it would be the 3rd largest country in the world. Companies are becoming better at engaging with their customers on their fan pages through contests, events, and give-aways so make sure you find and “like” your favorite brands on Facebook because you might get something for free!

LinkedIn is the preferred professional network. Anyone with a job or looking for a job needs to be on LinkedIn. Connect with everyone in your rolodex, then every time you go to a networking event, conference, etc., invite everyone whose card you received. LinkedIn is an excellent way to refer your professional contacts to each other. If someone asks me if I know a good financial advisor, I can do a search to see who I am connected to and forward their profile to the person who is looking. This way, they can view the advisor’s experience, skills, recommendations and even click over to their Web Site, blog, or twitter account to research them before hiring them.

Have fun making new friends and connecting with old friends. You might find that it increases the amount of offline socializing and networking that you do by keeping up with what is happening in your online communities.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Social Media Creates Communities

How are you deepening or strengthening your personal network? I know, face to face networking is hard for many people. However, you should be investing your time in a diversified way, just like you invest your money in a diversified way. Online and offline networking, different types of groups, some paid, some free, some structured, some free-for-all, some in your industry, and some category protected. Why put all of your eggs in one basket? For you introverts out there, try out a few until you find a group that is welcoming. I am not suggesting you don't have to put any effort into meeting people. Find someone by themselves and introduce yourself. There are so many groups out there and so many people trying out different groups for the first time, you are bound to talk to lots of people in your situation.

My favorite group right now is LinkedOC. This is a pretty diverse group that brings in amazing speakers for minimal cost and there is no membership fee to belong to the group. There are several people that I have met at these events who are active on social media and I love seeing them in person. I met a few of them on social media first and then in person at these events. LinkedOC is definitely a community that exists online and offline.

The title of this post is: Social Media Creates Communities. How is that? Let me give you an example from my industry. In the hospitality / events industry, I have connected to and become better acquainted with many people who live in different parts of the world. I started on LinkedIn and most of the connections I made were with people I had met at face to face networking events. When I started using Twitter, I quickly learned how to use a hashtag to see tweets from other event professionals (#eventprofs). Most of them have blogs, Web Sites or LinkedIn profiles where they extend their personal brand. It has only been recently that I started proactively adding professional contacts to Facebook. I don't need to tell you that Facebook is where you can really get to know someone. Our industry has become more of a community because of these tools.

Back to the introverts. How would you like to belong to a community of people on your computer? As I mentioned, you should participate in networks online and offline, however social networking is a beautiful thing for introverts. Social media creates communities and conversation. Social media is just talking. Who are you talking to? Friends, peers, clients, experts in your industry? Keep the conversations going and find a couple of communities where you belong.