Social Networking tips

Just a few tips for social networking. Don't just jump on the band wagon without thinking about what you're doing.

Firstly, if you don't use social networking sites in your free time, you're going to struggle. So, find out which one your friends use, and get on it. The people you will be trying to target are the ones who are using it socially, so you need to understand them, their expectations and their desires. If you don't use these sites socially, it will all be down to luck.

If you already use social networking sites in your free time, then start with those. If you use Facebook socially, but not Twitter, there's no point starting your company's social networking efforts on Twitter. Start with what you know.

And use the right format. Don't create a company "group" on facebook, or a company "person". "Pages" are for companies. If you use a group, people won't see your messages unless they specifically look on your group page (they don't receive the messages). If you create a person profile, people will be confused and put off becoming a "friend" because it gives you access to a lot of their personal data. It will be more difficult to attract people to "friend" you, than to "fan" you...if you see what I mean.

The same applies to the other networks, Facebook is just an example. Use the appropriate method for a commercial organisation on those networks.

Make sure you like/fan/follow your own pages, then pester your friends to do the same. The more fans your page has, the more attractive your page will be to new fans. It's "social proof". People want to be part of something popular. If you're page only has a handful of fans, people will assume it's not worth bothering with. But if you have 100 fans already, it will look like it's worth joining. In the early stages, quantity over quality is acceptable just to get it looking popular. Once you've got the ball rolling with a good number, then focus on your target market.

Get publishing. You need to have somthing new on your page at least once a week, preferably more often. Articles, offers, anything. Preferably something useful, not just adverts. Ask questions, get opinions. "Do you like our new logo?" "Would you be interested in this new service?" Offer free tickets to trade and industry events. Get imaginative. But if you just stuff it full of blatant adverts, people will leave. They get enough adverts all over the internet, in the their inbox and on the TV already.

Nothing looks worse than a stagnating networking page. It can do more harm than good. A company with a page with two posts, both of them adverts and only one friend (the MD) is going to look embarrassing to people who find it. You could lose that sale. If you don't have the time to keep it up to date, delete it or pay someone to do it for you. It's better to delete it if you're not using it and it just reflects badly on your company.

And the most important! Start getting involved with other groups, not just your own. Get yourself known in your industry. Start attracting people to your page. But don't just spam, you'll get reported and banned. Take part, be constructive and helpful. Make people want to find out more about you.

OpenGlobal offer social networking management and consultancy packages to help or to run your social networking campaigns. Contact us to find out how we can help.