I have said this before:
“Social media is social.”
Despite how often this is said by me and other social media types, people continue to miss the point of networking via social media. In case you missed it, the point is that it’s social.
What does “social media is social” mean exactly?
I know the dance of socializing doesn’t come naturally to everyone. The beauty of online interaction is that if you really kind of hate people you can mask your natural distaste for human interaction. If you are a bit shy, it’s easy to put your best foot forward and make connections that would be harder to make face-to-face. If you’e extroverted and not the best listener, you can work on that in the digital realm as well.
Social media networking basics
- Choose two or three people you want to try to get to know. Maybe they’re in your field. Maybe in a similar field. Maybe you admire them and want to be a little more like them.
Be realistic in your picks. You aren’t going to be BFFs with the most famous people in the world because you tweeted them once or twice. You want to choose people who are active on the social media platform you’re using, who respond to people, and are willing to network.
- Choose two or three people who may be potential customers or readers. These can be anyone expressing interest in the kinds of things you do. You can use searches on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to find people’s public posts about your topic.
- With both cases, you’ll want to set aside time each day (even a few minutes if that’s all you have). With that time, you’ll read what those people have shared. If it’s appropriate, comment. If not, you can still throw a like their way. If you have a question that relates to the topic they are posting about, then ask in the comments/reply section.
Be slow and gentle. See how things go. If you don’t get a response the first time, try again another day.
People have to see your name multiple times before you’ll seem familiar to them, so don’t get discouraged. It can be a long process and given how busy and inundated some people are, it won’t always work.
Don’t internalize this stuff. It is a big world out there and you’ll find success if you keep going. So keep going!
On the other side of this coin, when they do reply, don’t gush or go nuts, either. One or two replies doesn’t mean you have made an intimate friendship.
Beware the false sense of intimacy that can be fostered by social media. Be reserved and polite and give a person plenty of space and time to get to know you. Your interactions all add up to how people perceive you, also known as your “personal brand”.
- As you are comfortable, start the process over with new people. Continue your efforts beyond the first few people you try it with.
Growing an audience can be slow and tedious sometimes, but keep at it. There are more advanced moves for growing audience that I can discuss in another blog post, but this is a great way to get started. It will help you get a feel for networking and connecting online. Indeed, learning about networking and social interactions will help with your face-to-face interactions, too!
- If you feel a need to unfollow someone, please do. You don’t have to stay following the same people forever if the connection isn’t working out for you–for any reason.
That said, don’t follow and unfollow people as a technique to grow your numbers. It’s against my own ethical code, and against the spirit of real networking. Techniques like those may work for short-term gains, but it will not grow you a loyal and lasting fan base/network.
In a related vein, I talk more about why you shouldn’t buy followers here.