Monday, November 16, 2009

7 keys to success in social media

You create a profile, upload photos and media files, personalize your page to reflect who you are, but then what?

Social interaction comes next.

Depending on the contextual relevance of the site, your involvement with other members of your network can be anything from intense and nearly constant -- to casual and sporadic.

For example, I might spend hours on Twitter, RTing (retweeting) and @ing (replying to) various Twitter users. It could be joking, advising, debating, self-expressing, self-promoting, other-promoting, or just plain chatting about whatever.

However, on MySpace Music, I rarely interact with other musicians, aside from an occasional comment or private message. I often update the content, adding new tunes to my mp3 player, or new photos and videos. While I keep my Str8 Sounds page fresh and always changing, I don't spend a lot of time interacting with others.

I do more than most bands probably. I at least comment back when another band posts a comment on my page. And I make a point of complimenting bands that I really like and admire. I'll post a photo of me holding their new CD, as a comment, for example. Or mention some specific song or musical style of theirs that I enjoy greatly.

So my social interactions on MySpace Music is sincere and steady, but not all that frequent or intense. I never debate anything over there. I don't seek advice or express my thoughts like I do on Twitter.

Twitter interactions are rather well defined. Norms and netiquette sprang up spontaneously, with services like Twitter Fan Wiki to codify and keep pace with the site. Then we develop our own pet peeves or idiosyncratic practices.

To succeed in being human, or a humanized organization, on social media depends on several considerations. You will judge your ROI in social media according to your own goals. But the basic social media ideology remains the same.

Social media is fundamentally about caring and sharing. Not sales. Not viral marketing. Not investment opportunities. Not spam. Not positive affirmations.

To simplify: success in social media depends on being social. Not contrived. Not scripted. Not trendy. Not self-impressed. Not corporate fluffy. Not hype-driven.

Nobody joins a social media network to receive sales messages or corporate PR.

If you act human, caring and sharing, some few may be interested in your product or organization. But social media is not "just another communications / advertising platform." If you see social media participants as dumb sitting ducks waiting to waste their money on your junk, you're doomed.

We see the spammers do this. They lure you into Following them by using relentless inspirational quotes from other people. Or they try to act like a normal person, posting trivial details about their life, then every 10th post will be about some product or "opportunity".

Here's what it takes to succeed in social media, the kind of personality and behavioral qualities required to interact effectively with others online.

7 Keys to Success in Social Media

1. Value

You, or your organization, have plenty of knowledge or talent to share. Provide your insights, expertise, links to relevant sites, news, facts, questions, experiences, trials, struggles, triumphs, humor, skills, education, training, dreams, art, music, poetry, whatever you have to contribute to others.

Share links to sites you know about, but most others probably don't. What web tools do you use that others could profit from? What sites are authoritative in your field? Link to them! That's how you prove you're an expert, and people are attracted to those who share nice things.

2. Authenticity

Be yourself, don't quote others constantly. Emphasize what your friends or customers say are the good points of yourself or your product.

No ghost-posting! Don't position yourself as an individual, then have a staff pretend to be you as they interact with others. You'll be hated for this fake and insincere approach.

3. Altruism

Genuinely care about others. Prove it by interacting kindly, sympathetically, inspirationally with fellow members of your network.

Are you pushing something that will really help others, or are you selling something just to make yourself rich?

In social media, we discover your orientation a lot faster than you realize.

4. Articulation

You have to be a fairly good writer. Much social media consists of micro-content, short bursts of text, encapsulated contexts, abbreviated ideas, condensed thought.

As you practice, you'll gain marketable skills in communicative brevity.

5. Strength

You must be tough, able to take criticism, flaming, trolling, and assorted abuse. Some people think debates are things to "win" at all costs, rather than a mutual search for truth. Google the word "blogocombat" to learn more. Most of what you'll find was written by me, as it's one of my specialties.

For the definitive work on internet trolls, see Troll Guide: The Return.

Never let an online statement, especially if it's anonymous or from a total stranger, bother you or make you react in an immature or unprofessional manner.

Express your opinions or product claims firmly, but remain open to questions, challenges, and hostile attacks. Respond calmly and methodically. Provide links to substantiate your assertions.

6. Revolution

Realize you're a revolutionary, a ground-breaker, a pioneer in the midst of a communications upheaval. Never before in human history have ordinary people possessed a global platform to publish text, image, sound, music, art, etc.

Have patience with yourself, your online community members, and the technology itself. We and the technology are evolving together. The faster and further you go in social media, the better positioned and prepared your organization will be, as the new media reinforces or replaces the old media.

7. Goals

What do you wish to accomplish in social media? It can be anything from making real friends, gaining a virtual advisory staff, entertaining people, collaborating with colleagues, providing better service to customers, promoting an idea, campaigning for a candidate, or selling a product.

No matter what your ultimate objective may be, keep the overt actions to a bare minimum. Promote your seminar not with pushy hype, but by freely and abundantly sharing your expertise, valuable insights, how-to tips.

For better view, CLICK ON IMAGE BELOW -- "Conversation Prism" by Brian Solis, social media expert, author of The Conversation:

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