Social networking platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have been a boon to both individuals and businesses that are seeking ways to strengthen their brand image and expand their market reach. However, the challenge for most is how to be heard above the noise.
When you consider that we’re bombarded by 3,500 to 4,000 messages per day from a variety of media sources, including social networking sites, how can we realistically hope to connect with the intended audience in meaningful ways so our message is heard?
In my opinion, there are three important ingredients to include if you want to develop a stronger online reputation and expand your target audience:
- Great content. Have something important to say and say it in a way that will enable you to more readily connect with others.
- Build relationships. Making the connection is a critical first step. However, in order to establish a strong following it’s important to build positive relationships by showing a genuine interest in the other person and staying in touch.
- Be real. Most people will see through the facade if your sole purpose for the connection is to sell them something, or if you have more sinister motives in mind.
#1 and #2 above are pretty self-explanatory, but let me expand on what I mean when I say ‘be real’ with some examples.
Whether it is Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or another social networking site, the first thing you should ask yourself is “Why are you there?” Next, “Why would anyone want to connect with me?” If you don’t have good answers, or don’t see these social networking sites adding value to what you’re doing, then don’t waste your time. You’ll be doing other people a favor by eliminating some of the noise.
Now, if there are valid reasons – i.e. branding, lead generation, establishing partnerships, content and research, reconnecting with friends and colleagues, then add value and be real. Here are some actual Twitter examples to avoid if you want people to take you seriously:
- The ‘NO’s. No Photo (or famous person photo, not you), no bio, no website or blog link, no Tweets = NO FOLLOW. Speaks to my earlier question, “Why are you there?”
- Spammers. If all of your content smacks of ‘buy my product or service’ and nothing else, go away! Speaks to my other earlier question, “Why would anyone want to connect with me?” = UNFOLLOW.
- Excessive Retweets. Retweets are a great way to recognize followers and to share high quality content with others, but be reasonable. If the article has already been shared 283 times, please don’t send it out again!
- False Claims. “In just 1 day you can get 3K followers” – they have 127, or “Do you want to have thousands of followers like me?” – they have 635 (where are you hiding them?) and finally, “Need more Twitter followers? Only $29.95 per 5K followers” – they have 90. Maybe you should spend the $29.95 yourself and let me know how it works out for you = BLOCK.
- Porn Stuff. Bio = “I suck balls”. Really? Know your target audience. While this may be interesting to some, I don’t want you following me or my business = BLOCK.
Now on the flip side, here are some real examples of how social networking connections can evolve into much more meaningful relationships over time. I met three of the top social media experts – Mirna Bard, Lissa Duty and Ana Lucia Novak several years ago through Twitter. We’ve stayed in touch via Twitter, as well as by telephone, email, networking, etc. to build upon those initial connections.
As these trust-based relationships have evolved, let’s fast forward to today. Mirna is one of the people who endorsed my first book, Globalization: America’s Leadership Challenge Ahead. Lissa has been a great supporter both on social networking sites and in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and I have had the pleasure of speaking to her local business networking group. Ana Lucia and I share a passion for wine and chocolate, and she interviewed me on her BlogTalk Radio show a few months before my first book was released to discuss its topic.
These friendships would not have developed if we had stopped at being just Twitter followers. Instead we’ve shared great content, shown a genuine interest in helping each other reach our goals, and have stayed in touch. If you want to be heard, be real and invest the time to develop your social networking relationships into more than just a follower or friend connection.
Just my thoughts. Do you have any great examples of how you have developed new friendships or business relationships via your social networking contacts? If so, let us hear from you.
Enjoy the journey!
COPYRIGHT © 2013-17 John Carroll