Dear Awkward in Atlanta,
Listen carefully. What I am about to tell you can change your online social life. No, seriously. Just as there is no wrong way to eat a Reese's, there is certainly no wrong way to reach out to someone online. Yes. There are just good ways, and not-so-great ways.
(Okay, I take that back. There are a few bad ways, like sending a naked picture of yourself, or trashing a competitor, for instance. But these are all things you know. Right?)
The thing to remember here is authenticity. Because our suspicion levels are heightened online, the best way to reach out is to be yourself and connect with people on a human level. People on social media expect to be talked to. That's why they are there, after all. So, clear your voice, shake out your fingers, take a deep breath and start a conversation.
The first step is to identify who you want to talk to. A little social listening on the different networks goes a long way here. Start following keywords that relate to you and your business (in your particular case, real estate), and soon you will be able to see a trend of what people are talking about and, more importantly, who is talking about it.
LinkedIn and Twitter will be your primary networks. Reaching out cold on Facebook can seem a little creepsville, and there is no real way to reach out on Pinterest, so we can scratch those off our list. But that's okay, because they aren't really your target networks anyway.
Not sure what to say? Here are a few openers for both Twitter and Linkedin that will help you get over your social stage fright.
1. The Praise
Everyone likes to be praised. Open with a compliment and you are sure to be heard.
@soandso Loved your article on the latest Atlanta real estate trends. [Then provide your own insight or question here.]
2. The Common Ground
Because the Internet is so vast, there are people out there talking about literally everything. Bridge that gap with common ground.
@soandso I saw that you're interested in those new developments going up near Peachtree Plaza; so am I. Have you heard any info about when they're going to be finished?
3. The Offer For Help
This opener requires a little social listening but if someone is asking a question, it's probably not rhetorical. That person wants an answer. Here's your opportunity to shine.
@soandso I saw that you're looking for an office space in Buckhead. I can help with that. How much space do you need?
Bam: conversation opened.
As a rule of thumb, you will want to close with a question. Make it an open-ended one that requires an answer back. If someone doesn't have a reason to respond, they probably won't, but don't be discouraged. Remember this is a relationship you are trying to build, and that takes time. The initial outreach is the courting period, the time where you get to know each other. And as you would on a first date, you want to present yourself in the best light.
Follow my advice and keep working at it, and you'll soon become the life of the social media party. Good luck!
Do you have a question for Socially Stephanie?
Please email [email protected] and let Stephanie help you solve your social quandaries, queries, and boondoggles. (Questions may be edited for length and clarity.)
Illustration by Jesse Wells