How do you use social networking?
So what’s the deal with how people are using the social networking sites? It seems to me that fact that they are called “social networking sites” in the first place would imply that people should use them socially. When I first started using social media I intended to make quality contacts with social networking to begin to grow this blog. However, it seems that most of the time people are using the Twitter, Facebook and Google+ sites to gain attention but not to interact socially with anyone else. Some of the big names on the social networks are very good about responding to mentions or likes but what about everyone else? Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. You follow someone back or like them back or whatever and then ten seconds later you receive a direct message from them that says something like “Thanks for following, buy my widget here”. Why would I want to buy anything from someone who I don’t know anything about? Oh, it’s because I see a profile picture that may or may not be you and you have a catchy slogan or tagline. I am supposed to believe that you have something of value to offer me? Hmm, thanks a ton but I think that I’ll pass. How about the people who aren’t so spammy but send a direct message that says, “follow my me on Facebook” or “follow me on Twitter” or “Let’s get together on my Google+ page”? Okay, so I’ll bite and follow back. Now what? After I follow back and try to catch up to chat with this person, they seem to disappear. These people never respond to requests to chat for a minute or share ideas or anything else. Then what’s the freaking point? If you don’t really want to connect or develop a social networking relationship then don’t ask to. It all seems pretty simple to me.
How social networking should work:
So this is how I believe social networking is supposed to work. I see that I have a new follower on Twitter. Her profile says that her name is Stacy, she’s posted a friendly looking picture of herself and she runs a blog about small business marketing. So I’m thinking, “Cool, I actually have a few questions about my marketing plan so I’ll follow her back and send her direct message to see if we can exchange information”.
- Me: Hi, I’m Brian. I see just checked out your blog and it looks really cool. I run a blog called Entrenewb that covers how to start a new online business. I have a quick marketing question that I could use some advice on if a have a minute to spare.
- Stacy: Hi Brian, I stopped by your blog and it looks interesting. I really liked your post about social networking. Good stuff. What are you looking for advice on?
- Me: I’m glad to hear that Stacy! If you have any quick suggestions about how I might spread the word about my blog please let me know. I don’t get much traffic at the moment so any help would greatly be appreciated.
- Stacy: Hi Brian. I noticed that you don’t have a place on your site for visitors to subscribe to a newsletter. A good email newsletter can really help to get the word out about your site. Just a little tip for you, hope it helps.
- Me: Thanks Stacy I hadn’t thought about that before, I’ll get on that right away. I really appreciate your help. If there’s anything that I can do repay you for your help just say the word and I’ll get right on it.
- Stacy: Brian, hope you’re doing well. This may seem like an odd request but would you be interested in writing a guest post for my site on the similarities and differences of corporations and LLC’s?
- Me: Absolutely! When do you need it? How long or short does it need to be?
- Stacy: I was thinking maybe in the next 2 or 3 weeks if you can and maybe somewhere from 600-1000 words? Length is not as important as the content so make it as long as it needs to be to explain the broad strokes.
- Me: No problem. I’ll have it to you within a week and I just wanted to let you know that I am currently writing a new post about how traffic has increased since I added the email sub form that you suggested and I am linking to your site for anyone who wants to know more.
Social Networking for Mutual Benefit
That sounds like social networking perfection to me. Stacy and I both benefited by sharing with each other. My blog received a bump in traffic from Stacy’s subscribers because the post that I wrote for her links back to my site. Stacy’s site benefited because I wrote an award worthy article for her blog which generated tons of new traffic to her site because she knows how to market it.
Maybe I design web pages and you’re an SEO god, perfect. I’ll redesign your web page if you can help me tweak mine for better search engine rankings. Maybe you’re in the upper level of the blogging world and even though I’m just getting started you agree to give me a five-minute interview or even just answer a few questions for me via email. Who knows, with your reputation boost, maybe I’ll eventually join you at the top and be able to do something for you in return.
A couple of people who I have learned a lot from are very good about this sort of thing, Pat Flynn and John Lee Dumas. They are both at the top of the Podcasting game and yet they both still “lower” themselves to do interviews on brand new podcasts that no one has ever heard of. At the very least they might at least give a shout out for the new kid on the block to get some street cred. Do they need to do those things? Not really, they’re already at the top. But they both realize that there are always new people or blogs joining their ranks and people tend to be extremely appreciative when the top dogs help the pups out. Those pups will constantly tell the tale of when the top dog was super cool and gave them a helping hand out years ago. Maybe one of those pups will become the new top dog and can then pay that kindness forward.
I took the long road to get here but at least keep this in mind the next time that you ask for a follow back or a like. If you don’t really want to interact with people then don’t ask them to follow you. Most people don’t want your spammy comments and “buy my e-book” links filling up their feeds and you probably don’t like getting them from other people either. If we trade info and can’t find any common ground, no big deal. Maybe I know of someone else that you might have some way to help or vice-versa. Everyone is better off that way; you, me and the social networks all at the same time.
Do you have a suggestion? Please leave a comment to let me know about your social networking experiences. Don’t forget to subscribe if you enjoyed this article.