Exploring Social Media: Do You Know How to Use the Social Web?

Filed as Features on November 24, 2008 11:23 pm

Exploring Social Media article series badgeAs more and more of my clients discover the terms social media and social web, they ask me how to use this new Web 2.0 concept of social. They are surprised when I ask them a few questions and find out they are already a part of the social web.

Here are my questions:

  • Do you have and use email?
  • Do you have a blog or website?
  • Do you allow comments on your blog?
  • Do you have a forum?
  • Are you on MySpace and/or Facebook?
  • Do you Twitter or use a similar interactive, microblog program or service?
  • Do you bookmark sites through Delicious, StumbleUpon, Digg, or other services?

Then you’re a part of the social web. You’re using social media tools to communicate with others. So you know how to use the social web, right?

As discussed in “Exploring Social Media: Start With the Basics,” the basic social media tools are probably things you are already using. Using the social web means understanding how to use the tools to get your message across.

How to get your message across is part of understanding how to use the social web.

Winning at the Social Media Game

In “One Size Does Not Fit All,” I wrote about how one social media tool may or may not serve your audience. If you are putting all your energy into Twitter and it isn’t giving you an good return on your investment (ROI) of time, energy, and money, then either you are using the wrong tool, or you are using the right tool in the wrong way.

Each social media tool has rules. Etiquette, if you will. If you break those rules, if you aren’t playing the game right, you won’t win at the social media game.

Once you make your social media plan, targeting your appropriate demographics with the right social media tool, you have to learn how that tool or service works, and what the rules are that govern behavior in order to maximize the ROI.

There are a lot of articles out there giving you the breakdown of the rules for specific social media tools, like Biggest Mistakes Made by Social Media Gurus, How to Know if You Should Fire Your Social Media Consultant, Nine Essential Tactics For Reputation Management In Social Media, 8 Ways to Get the Most From Listening Tools by Liz Strauss, and The Essential Guide to Social Media, but the basics are this:

  • If you aren’t using social media tools, you don’t know how to use them.
  • Social means taking time to get to know someone.
  • Social means respecting each other.
  • Social means listening.
  • Social means sharing.
  • Social means feedback.
  • Social does not mean “sell.”

In today’s world, we’ve created a global village economy. People want to do business with people they know and trust.

If you want to win at the social media game, you need to know how to build relationships online. It begins by having a virtual business card and resume, proof that you are who you say you are, and know what you know. It begins with a blog and/or Facebook or similar site. It begins after you establish your credentials.

It continues when you start sharing, listening, and creating interactive relationships on the web. As you build relationships on the web, you understand how all this social stuff works. It’s not rocket science. It’s basic relationship stuff.

The problem is that too many are in a hurry to get that relationship right now and be done with it. Unfortunately, as many social media experts will tell you (and you probably won’t listen), the key to making social media work is time.

It takes time to get to know someone, to build a trusting relationship. It takes time to listen, to share, to communicate your thoughts and ideas and get feedback.

In order to play the social media game to win, you have to make the time commitment to develop relationships.

As I continue with my series on Exploring Social Media, I’ll look at some ways you can speed up the process by better understanding how many social media tools work, and give you examples of how they’ve worked for others, but it’s your job right now to start establishing your credentials, which I will cover more tomorrow.

Exploring Social Media Series

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