Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Top Five Ways to Succeed in Social Media

There have been so many posts that claim to teach you how to be a social media "star," gaining thousands of Twitter followers, becoming the next Scoble overnight, and so on and so forth. I prefer to think of Twitter followers the way I think of any other aspect of my business. I don't want 10,000 clients. I want a handful that I feel a real connection with, and who I can serve in meaningful ways.

With that, here are the top 5 ways of approaching social media that I believe will lead to success in it. By success, I mean that you are able to enrich your business and personal life, getting a greater sense of meaning and purpose, having interesting new experiences, and meeting folks you might never have been able to before the advent of social media. The icing on the cake--you'll probably end up making more money and expanding your career options.

1. Approach social media as a way of being of service. I've discovered something interesting about how to be a savvy social media user. You need to take yourself out of the equation, and put your focus on others. In an odd way, more of your personality will come through if you stop trying to have one. Thus, I find that I want to read the tweets from those who use it as a way to promote others (not themselves), to provide useful information, and to ask for and/or provide advice.

2. Interact. The joy of platforms like Twitter is that they provide a unique opportunity to have multiple conversations with others. Why have only a small percentage of the people who use these tools (particularly Twitter) learned this? Connecting involves more than just you--that's the whole "social" part of the equation. All of this is obvious, of course, but it's strange how difficult it seems to be for so many. Try this exercise: after typing a tweet, read it out loud, all the while imagining that you're at a cocktail party surrounded by a bunch of people you'd really like to get to know better. Still want to hit the "update" button?

3. Cultivate an attitude of curiosity. You're learning as you go through life, and now you have a whole crowd that's sourcing information on your behalf. Isn't that exciting and amazing? It is to me. I can hardly believe that all I have to do is turn on my iPhone or open my laptop and I'm sure to learn something new about business, technology ... and of course the latest celebrity gossip. This is one of the greatest secrets of success: treat everything in life as a learning experience.

4. Don't be boring. Before hitting the publish button on a blog post (or comment on FriendFeed/Facebook), ask yourself these questions,"Why would anyone care about this?" "What's the point?" "Does this add to (or detract from) the sum of human knowledge?" These are questions I've learned from editors over the years, and they have served me in all kinds of ways. It also doesn't hurt to have a sense of humor.

5. Stick with it. Those who are really successful in the realm of blogging, tagging, Tweeting and the like are the ones who fire up their machines and dive into the conversation all day, every day. I recently got a tweet from one of the people I follow that said "off for 3 days, see you all when I get back." Think about the level of engagement this represents. And I honestly would've noticed he was gone if he hadn't sent that out. While this may be too much of a time commitment for the average person, it's something to aim for. And of course this is someone who lives by all the rules above.


Michelle said...

Hi Sunshine!

Great post, I especially love points #1 and #2 - I think we all can relate to the people who only care about themselves and their services/products on Twitter.

While it's not all about numbers those numbers do reflect how you attract people to you. You will often see people with very low numbers and when you review their stream you will see they are not engaging-rather just pushing their wares.....this is part of the engagement process.

If you engage the numbers will come (and yes, while it's not about numbers the more people you interact with and KNOW, LIKE and TRUST you, the more clients you will attract to your business.

Michelle @mmangen

Felicia Griffin said...

Great! I am going to RT this. Interestingly most of the people who follow me seldom if ever tweet anything. So, in a way I guess I am successful with Twitter because I have a lot of curious people? Thanks for the post.

Sunshine said...

Thanks for the comments Michelle and Felicia! Agree that sometimes people who aren't followed by very many are that way because they're not really engaged. The most suspicious, to me, are those who are following many more than they're being followed by. That screams "spam" to me. I think a really great sign (and one you want to see in your own tweets) is a lot of back and forth @ type of conversation.

Jake McGowan said...

Great post, Sunshine. I'm still wrestling with Twitter. Seems like 140-character-length blasts would be easy to manage, but like any other form of communication it takes time to do it well (i.e., thoughtfully).

Babacita said...

So very true Sunshine. By actually being an active participant in these online conversations, you'll begin to gain a reputation. But the comments and posts must be relevant and offer a degree of importance - why would anyone care what I have to say? Make it valuable, provide other blog/article links for your audience, and be relevant.