The old adage "It's not what you know, it's who you know," is more important than ever in today's business world. And, one of the major measurements Social Ranking sites use now is an objective measurement of the value of your network. This is a questionable measurement since, our networks are always valuable to us, but on the principle that links in from major industry players weigh more heavily than links from friends and family, there some value to the concept.
So, what can a small- or medium size business do to build a strong network? Let's start with Social Media Linkbuilding. Many, if not most, of the "Best Practices" guides online on linkbuilding advocate tactics that are questionable, if not outright ignored now by measuring tools. Just as poor website construction can damage your overall SEO, poor linkbuilding tactics can severely damage your Social Media credibility. Here are five simple tactics that will increase your credibility and your network value.
Converse, Don't Monologue
Like people, companies are self-absorbed. They enter Social Media spaces focused on what it can do for them. They pop up on Facebook, Twitter or whatever platform with the corporate equivalent of "Hey guys, I'm here!" and expect people to care. But, just as no one really likes the guy who comes into the room at the party and says that, no one really cares that your business is on GetGlue...until you become interesting.
Forget the press release that you now have a Twitter account. Take time every day to find people talking about your business and just talk with them. Have a chat about the sandwich, those tickets they bought - were the seats good?, news in that field...and after you're become someone to listen to, THEN tell them about the sale coming up.
Talking with people sends a clear signal that you are not just in this for you - you really get the Social part of Social Media.
Sharing ideas, praise, credit will make you the kind of person whose network people want to be part of. Who is retweeting you, sharing your Facebook posts? Thank them, make them feel special, make it a special thing to be recognized by you. You'll find that the more generous you are, the more generous your network will be to you. It takes so little time or effort to recognize and thank someone, there's really no good reason to not do it at least semi-regularly. Slow news week? That's a perfect time to highlight some great network contributors! Saw a great article? Tell the person - publicly. Yes a nice long email explaining what you liked about it is great, but a short "This was an excellent article" on your Social Media platform helps spread the word. This gives the author a chance to respond back and possibly a new connection for both of you.
Don't Hijack, Give Credit Where Credit is Due
When you quote someone, you're expected to source the quote. On Social Media, source your links and wisdom, too. No one likes the guy who never has his wallet...no one wants to be part of the network of the guy who never says where he saw the link first. Use via to let people know that they've been sourced. This link will come back to them...and there's a good chance that you'll get a link back from them.
People who hijack links without sourcing the original, or who run them through their own jump pages make for lousy network additions. Avoid people who hijack links and hope they avoid you.
Variety is the Spice of Linking
You're good at linking to people in your industry. You know your peers and vendors and maybe even some of your customers. But no company is an island. There are industries peripheral to yours...and many service industries that you can benefit from like research, design, finance...don't be afraid to link out of your vertical. In fact, be afraid to not link out of your vertical! The further out you link and connect, the further out your message will be heard and seen.
Once you've started conversations with people in other industries, there comes a moment when you can just talk with anyone. Don't worry that the person is a President of a powerful company - if they are speaking with you as an equal, just talk back to them as an equal. Social Media is a great equalizer. Be bold in who you address and confident in how you converse with them. The bolder you are, the more confident you'll grow, and the stronger your network will become.
Use solid linkbuilding tactics to build a solid network to raise your credibility and value.