Jonathan Crow of ThinkFree recently conducted what he calls "The Great Social Experiment," where he tested the art of online social networking to evaluate whether or not joining the conversation across popular online communities would benefit his company.Crow created a roundtable featuring Chris Brogan, Aaron Brazell, Cathryn Hrudicka, Doug Haslam, and me to offer feedback, constructive criticism, and advice to help ThinkFree and other companies learn from his experiment.
Before you read below, make sure to first read, "The Art and Science of Social Media and Community Relations."
4a. How much of getting social networking to work is the contacts you bring with you?
4b. How aggressive should one be in reaching out to new contacts?
4c. Should I, for instance, try to befriend Chris Anderson even after I have composed a note meant to appeal to what he is interested in?
The art of relationships is based on the same principles and intentions online as it is in real life. In Social Media these days, we tend to get caught up in the coolest tools and forget that this is all about people.
Getting Social Media "to work" has less to do with what you have and more to do with who you know, who you should know, and how you communicate with them now and in the future - and it's ongoing.
Before you can reach out to new contacts, it's absolutely critical that you monitor where the conversations that matter to you and your business are taking place. Observe. Listen. Read.
Embrace the unique dynamics that are inherent to each community.
Once you get a feel for it, participate as a person and not a marketer. This is such an important and pivotal step and is both easy and natural to overlook. Marketers are good marketers. But in the realm of Social Media, the community benefits from people who are good listeners as well as those who are helpful and provide value.
It's not about how aggressive you engage or whether or not you're worthy of befriending a-listers. This is about finding opportunities to do so. And, it's an investment of time in communities, conversations, and relationships; an investment that is radically underestimated by most businesses who wish to reap the benefits of Social Media without the due diligence or effort.
This perspective shares more with the principles of good customer service and relationship building than marketing, popularity contests, or cursory attempts achieving ROI by hollow engagement.
Each community requires dedication and a unique approach to how to find, listen to, and interact with the people that matter to you and to your business. Relationships are based on mutual benefits, so think about what you bring to the table and why before you jump in.
How can you also serve the best interests of the community while they in turn help you? How do you want to be remembered within the social networks you participate? Answer these and then reinforce that impression in everything you do.
Click here to read the responses from the entire roundtable.
The Art and Science of Social Media and Community Relations
Experiments and Lessons Learned in Social Media Part I
Experiments and Lessons Learned in Social Media Part II
Experiments and Lessons Learned in Social Media Part III
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