Living and connecting with people on a daily basis for generations, we’ve built rules of engagement: how to approach a stranger, when to interject our thoughts into a group conversation, the point where we can begin to “sell” ourselves and when to merely listen.
Well the online world has a conduct policy and similar rules to engage and build relationships. Understanding that relationships are the key to building businesses and how to cultivate them on the different social media formats; Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, FourSquare, etc… You MUST learn the DO’s and DON’Ts.
The King Kong site for connecting online is Facebook and the search tool is used more than Google. We feel that, for now, Facebook is one of the best places for a product-based business or a creative business to connect and network online as well as have their statuses shared. You can’t find an article or an online site that doesn’t allow sharing to Facebook. It’s the standard. Typically it’s shared through your personal profile but you can always copy and paste the site url (address) or tag your business page in your post or visa versa.
Facebook allows business pages to have more than one administrator which you can add and remove manually so they don’t have to know your personal access login information. THAT is huge… Another strong feature of Facebook is the ability to use images, which is extremely important for a product-based company. Businesses can auto-load new blog articles through using a feed site, like Feed burner, share relevant information from businesses they follow to their wall and be able to customize the account to match their business brand and message. You can create custom pages for promoting events, products, special sales or create just a welcome page.
Tagging others (both people and fan/company pages) is a great sharing feature that Facebook offers. You can put the @ sign in front of a person’s or company’s name and it highlights their name, to alert them of your posting, and the posting or photo they were tagged in will appear on their wall as well as yours. Personally, I am not a fan of being tagged (unless the status can help me or my clients or I’m added to a mass networking tagging) and I don’t like that the image included in the tag automatically adds itself to the header images on my pages. Sometimes the @ symbol doesn’t work when you are writing the person’s name within the post but if you’ve attached a picture, the tag would work on the photo, I’m not sure exactly why this happens, but it does. Also whenever you tag someone or are tagged, the post, photo or video is also right on your wall. So be sure if you get a notification of being tagged you check your own wall and delete or hide that post if you don’t want it as well as hide the image in the top header. You can also set your wall so that no one can write on it but you, and then even if tagged, it would not appear. It still might add a photo to the top header area, so hide any photos you don’t want.
Another great feature on Facebook is private groups. As many of you know we have a private group for our own Broadcast Louder. Private groups allow you to post or share info that only the group members can see. The public does not see anything posted within the walls of the group. It’s wonderful because the group can share learning experiences, ask questions and everyone is supporting each other in a common mission, privately. We hope you will spend more time meeting and sharing as well as learning from the group mates.
Remember that on Facebook you should try to post everyday, quality over quantity. You are trying to engage, so wait for comments so you can continue the discussion. Also another important thing to remember business-wise: Anything you post personally on your profile is private and not indexed by search engines, whereas when you write on your company or fan page it is… so what we do is write on our company walls and then once posted go back and tag ourselves and other company pages in the photo.
Most creatives run from LinkedIn. It has the aura of being conservative, white collar and big business, but it’s really another important tool and business builder for creative businesses. You cannot separate yourself into two pages: personal and business but you can have business listing pages. (search your business name and if not there, it will let you add it.) You will represent your business(es) on LinkedIn. Save your personal messages for other social networking sites because LinkedIn is more of a business social media platform. LinkedIn, like Twitter, isn’t a wonderful site for images but you can offer more descriptive information about your business, your experience, your awards, education and business needs. If you want to add images, link the gallery app, Behance Network.
Recommendations are big on LinkedIn. You can ask for and give professional recommendations and I suggest you do both. It’s a good way to get yourself seen on other’s profiles and it’s a great way to support others. You can link your blog articles and Twitter stream to your profile and there are apps for Slide Share Presentations, events, polls and more. You can update your status manually or it will pull from your Twitter tweets so be sure you have your business account linked and keep your tweets professional because LinkedIn is considered a professional networking site.
If you are on LinkedIn and not in any groups, then go join as many as you wish to, although I believe the limit may be 50. LinkedIn Groups allow you to expand your ability to network and make yourself an expert, give and find resources and information to others. You can link to others through the LinkedIn Homepage Stream but groups allow you to write your thoughts or start a discussion, which is imperative to building your online network. Andrea’s Open Studio art mentoring business has a really great Group with a lot of wonderful discussions, and we’ve started a Broadcast Louder group as well. If you’re on LinkedIn, please join both, we’d love to have you as members.
You can also join a group that is on a topic such as “Creative Dilemmas” or if you are an animal lover, the World Wildlife Fund. LinkedIn is the largest gathering (millions upon millions) of business professionals, and most employees of a company are added or join, from the CEO to the assistant to the assistant.
Now let’s say you’ve joined some creative groups and the discussions draw you in and you’d like to connect with the members posting comments. Unlike Facebook where you can “like” anybody or follow anyone on Twitter, on LinkedIn two people cannot connect unless there is a reason, something that connects the two of you. Either you worked together years back, went to high school or college together or are in the same group, but you can’t just be “friends.” So, the best reason for joining groups is that it becomes a connector and you can grow your network. Another great feature of being in groups, is that when you are using the search for let’s say creative directors in nyc, LinkedIn will answer your search query and also show groups you have in common with the results list.
There are many wonderful functions on LinkedIn and we suggest you set up an account, then be sure to use all their apps and fill out your profile completely. If you’d like a visual step-by-step LinkedIn instruction, mosey over to Susan’s You Tube channel and watch her LinkedIn tutorials. She gives an extensive overview about groups and other ways to use LinkedIn.
This is the newest kid on the block and although Google+ began by only allowing personal accounts, they’ve recently opened up to businesses. Google+ combines a Twitter-like stream with the ability to add images to posts. Google+’s main benefit is probably their circles. When you post on Facebook or Twitter, everyone who follows you can see your status update, but Google+ allows you to CHOOSE who you want to target.
If your business caters to wholesale and retail clients you can send appropriate status updates to both without either seeing the one that wouldn’t relate to them. If I have a question just for my artist friends on Google+, I can send my question/post ONLY to the circle I put them in and no one else will see it. If people use their circles correctly it should cut down on uninteresting or unnecessary posts entering your stream. The con is that someone may not know that you’d be interested in a post and not include the circle they put you in, therefore you miss an update that may interest you. It’s the trade-off. Just like Facebook, you can hide accounts and if someone puts you in a circle, you don’t have to put them in yours and no one will ever know what circle you put them into. Another plus about Google+ is their hangouts. Starting a hangout allows you to connect, via webcam, to people you tag and have conversations. This is good for meeting or just, as the title denotes, hanging out. Just like Facebook and Twitter, you can scour other people’s circles and find others to follow and although you’d THINK that Google+’s search area would be second to none, it’s quite lame. When I use it to search for articles that I can share, the results are less than lackluster.
Social Networking and your Clients
Your business needs to participate in social networking because your clients do and just like when you work out your demographic personality; determining what magazines your client reads and where they vacation, you will need to know what social networks they participate in and use those. By working with social networking, you will open your business up to more sales and growth possibilities than you’d ever thought possible.