Do you network? Do you go out to conferences and mixers and tweetups and unconferences with the express goal of making new connections, listening to new voices, adding people to your “collection”. Do you actively manage your LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter? When Scoble mentions someone’s interesting tweet do you immediately check it out and then Follow that individual. If Chris Brogan blogs about a startup doing something cool, or if Deb Schultz posts an link that she finds inspiring on her Del.icio.us do you check it out, add that person to your RSS feed/facebook/del.icio.us, Digg? Do you spend a little time after every conference or meeting, take the business cards you received, entered them into outlook, send them an email, see if they are on LinkedIn, add their RSS feed, check out their twitter, look at their youtube channel?
Does your Social Media effort do the same?
Networking in your business life is a great parallel to Social Media Outreach. With Networking, you find people with interesting or similar ideas/thoughts/backgrounds/experience and add those people to your personal network. In the process, you become a member of lots of different communities/tribes/circles. You manage, maintain, grow and tend these connections and relationships because its important, because no one can be an island in business and because we are social animals who can always learn something from someone else.
A Social Media Effort, if it wants to succeed, needs to connect with the users in lots of different communities/tribes/circles. Conversations can’t happen without people. SoMe efforts need to build/maintain and tend these relationships in order to get noticed, stay relevant and keep the conversation going. If users/voices/people are the fuel in the social media “engine”, not working at connecting with them is nuts.
Are you identifying the places and spaces users frequent that fit within these themes? Are you connecting with the thought leaders, active participants and old hands in these communities, sites, forums, comment streams? Are you actively listening to these voices and their blog posts, twitter feeds, Flickr pools and Del.icio.us links? Are you managing your
network, er uh, Outreach program to get in touch, stay in touch and contribute to their conversations as well as your own.
Are you paying forward into Social Media’s equivalent of a 401k (relationships) by being an active participant? Or are you waiting and wondering why more users arent joining in?
Build an RSS feed of users who you would WANT to follow you AND LISTEN TO IT
Build an RSS feed of the users who ARE following you AND LISTEN TO IT
You are joining multiple communities, think like a NEIGHBOR NOT A MARKETER
Listen to what they are talking about (twitter, blogs, facebook, flickr), what they are passionate about – NOT JUST THE MENTIONS OF YOUR URL OR BRAND NAME
Say Thankyou for their Follows, Comments, mentions, trackbacks, blogposts
Comment on their ideas, as Bob from INSERT MASSIVE COMPANY HERE, not a pseudonym – bait and switch is not a sustainable strategy
Respond to their Tweets, comments, forum posts, flickr pool additions
Encourage them, give support, add value, say something. Or, as Mark from My Tropical Escape likes to put it, “BE HUMAN”
Point out what they are doing at least 50% of the time
Send the link love (attention is a currency)
Let them see there are real people behind your Social Media effort
Long before the cocktail parties, schwag distribution, mixers or tweet-ups or blogger meetups, you need to connect with real people and not only what Valleywag calls The 250. Influencers are important, but there are more regular Joes out there than all the A-listers in the world. You need to develop relationships. You need to build a network, through Outreach, around your social media efforts.
The same determination and discipline you apply to maintaining your network you need to apply to your company’s outreach program. Because its ALL NETWORKING