When George Clooney was recently asked about his take on Facebook at the Toronto Film Festival, his response was short: “I’d rather have a prostate exam than a Facebook page.”
Now, that’s probably understandable when movie studios (his potential clients) have his number on a speed dial, and pesky paparazzi (freebie seekers and unqualified prospects) chase after his every move.
But unless you already have more prospects and high quality clients than you and your business can handle, your approach to Social Networking should be drastically different.
Frankly, a little over a year ago I considered online networking a total waste of time. Fortunately, I was able to recognize how wrong I was. And I wasn’t the only one that had a change of heart on this.
After Dell revealed they generated a cool million dollars in extra sales in 2008, (ahm, make it a cool $3 million by June’09!), many other companies large and small started paying attention to this social networking “fad”!
Just consider a few of these facts:
• Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social networks initially considered online hang-out places for kids and teenagers are now attracting a much more demographically diverse crowd.
• Big brand names, like Ford, WholeFoods, Comcast, IBM, Dell, Southwest Airlines, and many, many more are establishing a strong presence on social networking hubs like Twitter and Facebook.
• Facebook membership has just passed the 300 million mark (that’s nearly the population of USA!) and Twitter is marching towards 18 million users by year’s end! That’s a lot of potential customers!
• Although, started with college kids in mind, over 50% of Facebook’s members now are over 25 years old, over 55% are women (the new buying power), 51% have an annual income of $75K, with 33% claiming to bring home $100K or more.
• Finally, Facebook has become one of the most trusted companies in America, and people spend three times more time there than on Google!
Got your attention now?
Good, let me give you just five basic tips on putting this massive connection power to your advantage.
1. Get Started! Open an account on every social media and social networking platform you come across. Even if you are not actively using all of them, (which you won’t) you should reserve your name, the name of your company, your brand, or your key products, because those are like real estate locations – once the prime spots are gone, they are gone! For example, I have the vanity url facebook.com/adamurbanski – but there are at least six other Adam Urbanskis who won’t ever be able to grab that link! I also have twitter.com/adamurbanski, youtube.com/adamurbanski and many more like this – are you getting the point?
2. Get Involved! Just opening the accounts won’t do anything for you. You must be actively involved. Choose the best three platforms for you – where you can find the largest population of your ideal clients and it’s the easiest to connect with them. Each platform provides search tools that enable you to find people you already know, current customers, as well as hubs where most of your ideal potential clients already hang out, so you can become visible to a lot of them very quickly. And start connecting and talking! But first…
3. Listen, Listen, Listen More The most important thing you must remember is that social networking is NOT ABOUT YOU! It’s ABOUT THEM! So don’t listen twice as much as you talk (I mean “post”), listen 10 times as much! Find out what the current topics are. What people are concerned about, what information and solutions they are looking for. Then make your posts relevant to other people’s needs! Here is a hint – nearly all of the social networking services and tools, at least the basic version of them, is free! So don’t go out there pitching your high-priced wares. Give, give, and give some more first! If your focus is on getting and taking, you will get a big fat NADA from your networking efforts. But if you focus on giving, you’ll be abundantly rewarded in return.
4. Get Attention! Following all the rules is for sissies! So don’t be a social networking pansy – have an opinion (in fact, have lots of opinions on everything!) and voice it loud and often! People admire people with opinions – even if they don’t agree with you, they will stick around to watch what will happen next. Social networking experts are quick to dispense all their “must not break” rules (heck, I’m doing it right now!), but the fact is, this is such a new media that most of the effective approaches are still to be discovered. And the only way to do so is by stepping on some toes and breaking some norms.
If you want a “safe” way to practice this, follow my PET formula: polarize, entertain, teach!
– POLARIZE. Whether you piss people off or make them love you, they will pay attention. If they are indifferent, they will leave!
– ENTERTAIN. People will always choose fun over education. If people laugh w/ you, they like you… Plus, when they laugh – they learn!
– TEACH. Gary Veynerchuk says “give good s#!%.” And he gets how PET works, because that phrase rubs some people the wrong way, it entertains, and it teaches! Peeps love good tips they can use right away – so share some!
5. Automate! The purpose of social networking is to CONNECT WITH PEOPLE on a very personal level. Still there are some tools that can help you impress your fans with your “omnipotent online presence” and get more networking done in less time.
RSS blog feeds, FriendFeed.com, Ping.fm, TwitterFeed.com, SocialOomph.com, TweetBeep.com, and TubeMogul.com are just a few of a plethora of tools and services – most of them free – that will kick your online socializing into high gear!
Here is my final take on it. And I really want you to get it! In April of 2008, from a stage at one of my boot camps, I called people who use Twitter “lazy idiots with no life” (yeah, how is that for polarizing, huh?) But at the same boot camp earlier this year I had my Twitter networking activities to thank for clients from Australia, Singapore, Netherlands, Spain, England, Hungary, and a few other countries. Needless to say, I changed my tune. I’ll leave it to your imagination as to what I now call professionals and entrepreneurs who refuse to recognize the client attracting power of social networking. Better yet – stop wondering, and if you aren’t involved yet – get started now!
By Adam Urbanski (c) 2009