It's likely there is no one over-arching secret, but I do believe that there is a pyramid (or order of doing things) that likely improves anyone's chances of being successful in their Social Media efforts, whatever those may be.
The pyramid is designed to show the steps to a peak with the width of each step indicating the frequency or commitment of time and energy at each level. Ideally you will spend at least twice as much time engaged in Step 1 as you do in Step 2 and so on.
Here there are my 4 Steps to Social Media Success:
This is what Social Media is for ... no really. It's the thing that's hardest for newbies to grasp: That just by paying attention to what others are saying, sharing and asking you can learn so much.
Do this well and your future success in Social Media (however you define it) is assured.
How to do it: Follow, fan or connect with a few key people on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn - people important to your industry, your business and/or your interests. Start following a few blogs on topics you care about. And then read, read, read. You might even want to start making note of who seems to have the "best stuff" in the areas you care about and when they are active on their particular Social Media platform.
It's not enough to just be a "spy in the room" - sooner or later you will need to engage with people. Start by saying Hello. No, really. Imagine your time in Social Media were a cocktail party. Would you simply sit in a chair against the wall listening in? Of course you wouldn't.
How to do it: When people accept your offer to connect, become a fan or follow - thank them. When they ask you a question, answer it. I'm serious. You don't think this needs to be said? Just hang around in Social Media long enough and you will see that the "Faux Followers" far outnumber the "Real Followers." If you liked or appreciated something in a blog, leave a comment saying so. By being human at this stage your credibility begins to build.
If you thought Social Media was all about what's in it for you, you've really grabbed the stick at the wrong end: It's all about what your time in it means for everyone else. Your reputation (and therefore your trust and influence) are directly related to how human you are and at this level that means being helpful and giving.
How to do it: Start slowly by answering a few questions that you are able to as they pop up. Share links to really good stuff you've found on the web. Introduce two people who don't know each other but who could help each other. Connect the dots for others. In the karmatic way of Social Media this help will be repaid with much interest.
Yes, you do get to ask for help once in a while and you can ask others if you may offer them a solution to a problem that just happens to be related to your business. BUT, you do this rarely and with great care.
How to do it: First you need to know your audience (your followers, fans or connections) and you need to pay attention to how they react when others make "offers." If you have established a relationship and you believe your audience really wants/needs what you have you can make the offer. BUT (again with emphasis), be sure to make the offer at the right time and only once. Handled incorrectly this last level of the pyramid can easily destroy the other three. You have been warned.
If this all seems like too much work, perhaps Social Media is not for you. The real trick is to keep Social Media "social" and to build relationships.
10 Commandments for Social Media
10 Social Media No-Nos
7 Ways to Tell How You're Doing in Social Media
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