Most of us know that social media is about 1:1 connection. At the core of the social ecosystems are people and relationships. Connecting with your audience, partners, influencers and yes, customers with more than just an avatar is essential.
It's easy to get caught up in the science of social media, the Klout scores, number of followers, retweets and other metrics and forget why you're doing social media in the first place. Yes, the metrics and ROI are of great importance. However, it's important to not forget that there are people behind the tools, widgets, gadgets and avatars.
What matters is that you are inspiring your audience, partners and social friends to connect and engage with you. How does your social community respond to you? Do they know you exist? Are you inspiring them to take action? Or are you a silent lurker sitting on the sidelines?
One key aspect for success in understanding the art of social media is advocacy. It's amazing to me how many social media leaders who preach about relationships, authenticity, and connection do very little when it comes to actually “giving”. If you look at their tweet stream there is no love happening except for love of self.
Give to get is the saying you'll hear many preach in the world of social media. I say “give to inspire and connect”. Quit worrying about what you get in return. Instead focus on connecting. Focus on a real conversation that helps nurture a real relationship. Relationships are the key to action which is the social currency of online marketing.
Let's do a double click on how you can be a good friend and advocate for others in social media. If you engage in social media with an objective to inspire and connect with real human beings, then giving becomes more natural. The better you can genuinely and authentically connect with your social community the more profitable your relationships will be both personally and professionally.
25 Tips to be a Good Friend in Social Media:
1. Stop, look and listen before you share the tweets. Remember being told as a child to “stop, look and listen before you cross the street”? Social media is the same way. We should “use our eyes, use our ears and then use our tweets.” Take some time to listen and understand the ecosystem before you blast noise to the masses. Listening, learning and advocating is a great way to learn the ecosystem of social media. Follow thought leaders, business leaders in your niche, friends and colleagues. Watch what they do, how they speak, what they share, and where they hang out online. The more you can listen and learn the better you'll be able to provide value for your audience.
2. Come out from behind your avatar. You can't show any real advocacy if you are hiding behind a logo. Put that bright, shiny smiley face on your social media profiles. Logos are good but leave them for the Twitter backgrounds, Facebook welcome pages and blogs. Let people know there is more than a logo, keyboard and 140 characters behind your tweet machine.
3. Have a social mindset. Do not focus on only giving to get. Focus on inspiring to connect. If you inspire your audience to connect with you, their giving in return will happen organically.
4. Relationships don't happen overnight. Be realistic. Not everyone is going to fall in love with you at first tweet. Give people a chance. Most successful business people have a life and a day job outside of Twitter. Just because they don't respond back to your retweet within 2, 24 or 48 hours doesn't mean you should go crawling back behind the avatar and call it quits. Stay focused on connecting with people who have common interests.
5. Stop lurking. Are you guilty of visiting numerous Facebook pages, blogs, tweet streams and more but never comment, retweet or let the content producer know you exist? If yes, shame on you! No better time to start than now. Sitting on the lurk bench will do nothing for you, your business or your social relationships.
6. ENGAGE! Now that you're off the “lurk bench” focus on engaging. Be yourself. Share yourself. Get to know the person on the other end. Build a relationship. You'll never do such sitting behind your computer monitor reading all day long and wishing you were part of the conversation. Join the conversation and become part of the DNA of the ecosystem.
7. Grab a daily dose of advocacy. Be the best advocate you can possibly be! If you read something you like, tell the person you like it.
8. Will the real you please stand up? Be real. Be authentic. Or don't be! There is only one you, not an online you and a different offline you. Being your real self will help people connect to the real you and enable you to nurture authentic and meaningful relationships.
9. Don't give to get. If you are only advocating to be advocated in return then don't do it! Don't comment on a blog just to have a link back to your site. Most people can spot a fake or spammer with one quick look.
10. Don't be afraid you'll lose your followers or potential clients if you tweet a link to someone else's blog. I am shocked I still see self proclaimed social media consultants recommend that you shouldn't tweet a link to someone else's blog. I disagree with this advice 100%! Hopefully you are inspired by your mentors, thought leaders, and influencers. Your audience wants and needs the same. If you take the time curate good information with your audience, they will value your time in doing such, knowledge of such information and content creators. If you are worth the Twitter follow back or the Facebook “like” then you should be smart enough to know you're not the only person in your niche with a blog or participating in social media.
11. Share your best stuff. One of the best ways you can be advocate and show the social love is to give of yourself. Don't just give your second hand goods. Give your absolute best stuff. Offer helpful tips, resources and best practices. The more you give the more your audience will organically and authentically be attracted to you.
12. Each day set aside time for some social love and advocacy. If you don't make the time it will never happen. When you advocate you are also listening. You are learning. You are engaging. You will then be able to better connect with your audience because you have taken the time to listen to what someone else has to say, engage in a meaningful conversation and hopefully learn a different or new perspective.
13. Read with an objective to UNDERSTAND! Don't just read with an intention to retweet and get retweets for yourself. Read with the intention to listen, learn, understand and engage.
14. Have an opinion. Don't be afraid to disagree. If you don't like or don't agree with what someone has to say, let them know. Many bloggers write content with the assumption and sometimes intention of receiving a flurry of comments disagreeing. Conversation is good. If someone disagrees with something you say or write don't take it personally. Learn from it. If you disagree with their comment on your blog don't be afraid to let them know.
15. Comment on a blog. Let a blogger know you stopped by. If you liked what you saw, tell them so. If you have a question, ask it. If you disagree with their opinion, state yours. Be genuine in your response and have a true interest in connecting and engaging.
17. Add value via commentary. Don't just retweet all day with no comments, remarks or opinions on the content you're sharing. If you are being authentic in sharing then make it a goal to at minimum 50% of the time have something to say vs a blind retweet.
18. Subscribe to the RSS feeds of your favorite blogs. With an RSS Feed you can receive an email each day with any new blog posts or content they have posted. This is a great way to stay up to date on the content that you are hopefully authentically interested in.
19. Subscribe to the newsletters and other email subscriptions of your favorite bloggers and thought leaders. This is one of my favorite ways to connect and learn from my social community. Often times you'll see content in email communications and newsletters that don't appear on blogs and tweets for the masses. It's a great way to get to the heart and soul of the content creator.
20. Subscribe to your favorite YouTube channels. Similar to an RSS Blog feed, you can stay up to date. YouTube is often overlooked but can be filled with great content to help you learn, connect and inspire others while advocating at the same time!
21. Support the objectives of your mentors, influencers and thought leaders. Are they speaking at an upcoming event, launching a new book? Sell or give away seats to a webinar? Build a tribe or community? Support their objectives. You will learn over and over again in watching how people respond, engage and help you build someone else.
22. Visit more than their blog or tweet stream. Check out the other social profiles of your favorite social friends. Check out their LinkedIn profiles and YouTube channel. If they have more than one blog, check out the second one. Many bloggers create amazing content and distribute across the social sphere in multiple formats. Guaranteed the content producer will appreciate the time taken to engage and become part of their community across their multiple social platforms.
23. Don't be afraid of your competition. You might actually learn something from them. Instead figure out how you can cooperate with them to help your common communities. You'll often times find amazing joint venture opportunities by not being so stuck on yourself. If you are so good then why are you worried about them to begin with. Be confident. Your potential client base knows they exist anyway. Focus on building bridges, not burning them.
24. Get a profile on the common commenting platforms and tools. These include Discus, CommentLuv and Gravatar. If you don't already have a profile on these platforms get one. They will enable others to see your smiling, happy face and you only have to upload a photo one time! Then when you comment on a blog people will see the photo as well as a link to your site if you include such in your profile.
25. Inspire. Focus on inspiration. Always be thinking “how can I inspire my audiences…how can I help educate them, share knowledge with them, help them learn a more efficient way of doing business or living life?” If you focus on helping others achieve their goals first, then you will as a default achieve your goals. Focus on inspiration both in your own content as well as when you engage and advocate others.
26. Have fun. The key with all of this is don't take the conversation part of social media too serious. Yes, it's both a personal and business conversation. However, don't over analyze every word you say. Similar to what my hero Dr Seuss would say “Be who you are and say what you feel as those who matter don't mind and those who mind don't matter.” What's the worst that's going to happen? You lose a few followers? No worries, there's 10 million more where those came from.
Do you feel the social love from your influencers, mentors and thought leaders? Is your audience feeling the social love from you? Or are you guilty of advocating only yourself? What do you do to show the social media love? What do you prefer in terms of advocacy from others?