Monday, May 17, 2010

In Social Media You Get What You Give

If you ask anyone who uses a Social Media platform regularly whether it's "worth it," you'll get the same answer - you get back what you put into it.

But what does that actually mean to you? Will you have to waste countless hours chit-chatting with folks on Twitter, or monitor a dozen or more spaces in order to make any kind of splash?

The answer to this is, of course, no...and yes..

Today we're going to look at the "Yes" half of this answer.

Social Media is about relationships. Of course you need to put time and energy into them! That's only common sense. You wouldn't like it if a "friend" only contacted you when they need something, would you? Your contacts/friends/followers also want more from you than requests to Like, Retweet, buy stuff and help you out. If all you're doing is advertising through a Social Media profile, then none of those relationships mean anything to you - and it's obvious to everyone on the other side of those relationships.

Social Media is about networking. The key idea behind being on any Social Media network is the presumption that you *want* to build your network. For the same reason you go to professional conferences, it is assumed that you want to connect with others in your industry. The same is true for any given Network online. You want to know more about your business, about your competitors, vendors and customers. Social Media gives you a chance to become closer with all of these, to follow what they are saying and doing.

Social Media is about location. You can't be everywhere at once, but you can be where you need to be. No, you don't have to have a dozen Social Media profiles. But you should have them where they would best serve you. Are you stubbornly holding onto a distribution mailing list in which you email your release schedule to bouncing email accounts, when the conversation has moved elsewhere? Don't be surprised if the only conversation about you is about how you seem to have disappeared.

Social Media is about reciprocity. There is nothing more maddening than a unfair business relationship. You know the vendor who always calls you when they need a testimonial, but suddenly isn't there where you need help with an upgrade? Or when you need a contact, after the dozens of contacts you've given them?  The same is true in Social Media. When someone is talking you up all over the Internet, it makes sense to know who and where they are. If they ask you for a favor that's in your ability to give, granting it is the best way to really to nail down what a great person you are. No response and you might find that the next time you need them, they aren't there. If someone has done you a good turn, putting a little effort into helping them makes you a hero not only in your own spaces, but in theirs too.  Be generous with thanks. It cost nothing, so the ROI is fantastic.

Social Media is perfect example of you get what you give. Give a little, get a little. Create an open, friendly, authentic network, and you'll find that you'll be reaping the benefits of that open-handedness in your dealings with your peers, vendors and customers.
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