Paul Chaney: Top Ten Secrets to Social Network Superstardom
Okay, I admit the title is a bit over the top. These ten tips aren't exactly secrets and they won't, in and of themselves, turn you a social media superstar.
Stated more accurately, these are practical guidelines that will make you a better member of social networking communities in which you participate. (But, if I used that as the title, would you have read the post?)
1. Pull, don't push
One of the first lessons you will learn very quickly when engaging in social media is that old school marketing tactics don't work. Don't come out of the gate pushing your products or services. New tools require new rules.
For example, don't respond to new Twitter followers with a "Thanks for following. Visit my Web site for a free...[insert whatever promotional message you've seen.]." That's a dead giveaway that the offender is new to social media and has yet to understand that it's a "pull" medium, not "push." If I want to review your credentials, I'll read your bio. (You did complete your bio, right?)
2. Win the right to be heard
Social media engagement is a conversation, and participation in the community is required. In fact, you might say participation is the fifth "P" of marketing.
3. Content is STILL king, but conversation is queen (and conversion is the prince)
Nothing beats well-written, informative and entertaining content in all its variant forms: Blog posts, tweets, video, podcasts, images, webinars or whitepapers. Try to place yourself in a position of being a knowledgeable expert (assuming you are, of course). Community is the context.
Not only that, but keep content and commerce separate. Never the twain shall meet is a good rule of thumb. Editorial and advertorial should be distant kin, if related at all.
4. Authenticity and Transparency are social networking cornerstones
Those words may seem trite, but I believe they remain the cornerstones of this new media marketing paradigm. Be real. Be open. Be honest. Admit mistakes when you make them.
5. You don't have to be on every social network
It's impossible to maintain an active presence on every social network and, you know what, you don't have to. You do have to be where your customers are, however. They expect you to be there.
As a default, I recommend a presence on the big three: LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. LinkedIn is your business suit, Facebook is business casual, and Twitter is the 24/7 ongoing cocktail party. Connect with those who connect with you and anyone else where it makes business sense.
6. Give and you shall receive
I talked about this in my Dale Carnegie post, but it's worth reiterating. Having an attitude of helpfulness goes a long way toward establishing a credible name for yourself in social media circles. "Seek first to understand, then to be understood" is the way St. Francis of Assisi put it (Steven Covey too, for that matter). "People don't care that you know until they know that you care" is how I put it.
"Lose control of your marketing," is how David Meerman Scott put it. Give ideas and information away freely with no strings attached. Be willing to give up control of the marketing message, as if you could hold it close to the vest in the first place, given the current Web 2.0 landscape.
7. The rules of marketing still apply
Don't throw the marketing baby out with the bathwater. Social media is another channel to build your brand and market your message. It's not a panacea nor should it be considered a replacement for every other form of advertising and marketing.
One thing I have learned is that there is room for integration. Email and search are still where most marketers spend top dollar, and for good reason, they both perform very well. It's all inter-related anyway and social media is finding its place.
8. Social media is a mindset, not just toolset
You have to incorporate social media DNA into your thinking. Don't just change your toolset (tactics); change your mindset (strategy).
9. Be yourself, whoever that may be
My good friend Aileen Bennett has a mantra that she lives out in every respect, "Be Yourself." No better advice to be given to anyone, regardless of whether they engage in social media or not. One thing is certainly true; you can't be who you are not. (See tip #4)
That's why I recommend using your photo as your avatar and your name as your handle. That's not to say you shouldn't have an identity tied to your brand (Zappos and Dell are good examples.), it's just that in social media, people would rather relate to and build trust with other people than brands. It's a trust economy after all.
10. That's where you come in
What's your top "secret" for social media superstardom? Feel free to leave a comment. I'm sure the list could be quite extensive.