Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Social Media Success Depends on T&A
What? What were you thinking of?
What does Social Media success look like?
Before I explain myself, I feel it's important to clarify that "success" is a three-tiered monster when it comes to social networking sites.
In no particular order (with 1 being the most important in my book), those three tiers are:
1. Meeting brilliant, amazing, wonderful people
2. Creating professional networks that can serve your business in the future
3. Creating money-making scenarios for you and/or your business
Now that we're on the same page, let's get back to T&A (talking and answers)
Last night during the inaugural #techchat on Twitter, some ideas were thrown around regarding how to interact (or react) on Twitter. As I've mentioned before, when I first started tweeting, I was generally a link posting machine. It was boring for me, and I'm pretty certain it was boring for any folks who were following me at the time. So I decided, "Well, maybe I'll just start talking to people. Like how we used to do in real life." That decision, I am convinced, is what made Twitter become a resource for me rather than just something to post to.
There's a lot of pressure on people to post nothing but meaningful and interesting things when using Social Media for business. We are constantly told that we need to make ourselves stand out, we need to prove we are thought leaders, etc. I'm sure a lot of that is true to at least some extent. However, it's okay, and sometimes extremely rewarding, to talk about things that are perhaps not as valuable to your general cadre of followers. Sometimes you will see me talking about baseball. Sometimes you will see me talking about Monty Python. Yesterday I lamented my failing reading skills as I kept reading news about China Unicom as China Unicorn.
My rule of thumb? No one wants to talk to an encyclopedia, and no one wants to talk to that annoying relative who talks about colonoscopies and doggy doodoo all the time. Stray away from those ends of the spectrum and you'll have the talking part of the formula down.
That being said, talking about things, whether ethereal or boring, won't necessarily help you meet people who are in your profession or who are interested in the same things you are. That's why answers are also key.
Answers can be kind of tricky on sites like Facebook and Twitter. It's very easy to come across as a know-it-all sometimes, especially when people don't know how to read your tonality. If you think about it though, most of what thought leaders and other successful Social Media folk post consists of answers to questions you may or may not realize you have. Why are people like Denise Wakeman, Mari Smith, DM Scott, Ann Handley, Beth Harte, and Chris Brogan successful? Because they are providing you information you didn't really think about needing. The information is provided before you even know what to ask.
Answers are the engines of success behind sites like PushingSocial, CopyBlogger, and ProBlogger. People go to these sites, retweet posts, and comment because there is always a feeling that the information being provided is important. It's a constant stream of important answers.
On LinkedIn, giving answers is something that is requested. The "answers" section is a treasure trove for building this part of your Social Media portfolio. What I have come to enjoy is not just offering my opinions or solutions, but also seeing how other people answer and interacting with them. A combination of talking and answers can reveal many of your strengths simultaneous and can also be a great way to make strong connections.
You may be saying to yourself that there must be something beyond these two words that could lead to any type of Social Media success. I have thought about this and find that most of my responses pretty easily fall into either or both of these categories. I'm open to being proven wrong, however. Go ahead, make my day :)
1st Image by Michaela Kobyakov. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/michaelaw
2nd Image by Nate Brelsford. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/runrunrun
3rd Image by Julia Freeman-Woolpert. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/juliaf